Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/91

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77
POOR LAW


An explanatory letter issued by the local government board will be found in the 20th Annual Report, p. 23. The tendency of this and of all recent legislation for an afflicted class has been to increase the care and the safeguards for their proper treatment. A settlement is the right acquired in any one of the modes pointed out by the poor laws to become a recipient of the benefit of those laws in that parish or place where the right has been last acquired. No relief is given from the poor rates of a parish to any person who does not reside within the union, except where such person The Ques- being casually within a parish becomes destitute by tina at sudden distress, or where such person is entitled to “Settle- receive relief from any parish where non-resident men!-" under justice's order (applicable to persons under orders of removal and to non-resident lunatics), and except to widows and legitimate children where the widow was resident with her husband at the time of his death out of the union in which she was not settled, or where a child under sixteen is maintained in a workhouse or establishment for the education of pauper children not situate in the union, and in some other exceptional cases. Immediately before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 settlements were acquired by birth, hiring and service, apprenticeship, renting a tenement, estate, office or payment of rates. In addition to these an acknowledgment (by certificate), by relief or acts of acquiescence) has practically the effect of a settlement, for, if unexplained, such an acknowledgment stops the parish from disputing a settlement in the parish acknowledging. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 abolished settlement by hiring and service (or by residence under it) and by serving an office, and by apprenticeship in the sea service. Moreover the guardians of a union might agree (subject to the approval of the commissioners) that all the parishes forming it should for the purposes of settlement be considered as one parish.

It is to be observed that, for the purposes of relief, settlement and removal and burial. the workhouse of any parish is considered as situated in the parish to which each poor person is chargeable. There may be a settlement by parentage, for legitimate children take the settlement of their father, or if he has no settlement they are entitled to the settlement of their mother; and it is only when both these sources fail discovery that their right of settlement by birth accrues; for until the settlement of the father or mother has been ascertained the settlement of a legitimate child, like that of a bastard, is in the place where the birth took place. A settlement attaches to those persons who have a settlement of some kind. Foreigners born out of the country and not acquiring any in one of the modes pointed out must be provided for, if requiring relief, where they happen to be.

As the burden of maintaining the poor is thrown .on the parish of settlement, when the necessity for immediate relief arises in another parish, the important question arises whether the pauper can be removed; for, although the parish where the pauper happens to be must afford immediate relief without waiting for removal, the parish of settlement cannot in general be charged with the cost unless the pauper is capable of being removed. The question of removability is distinct from settlement. A pauper often acquires a status or irremovability without gaining a settlement. lrremovability is a principle of great public importance quite irrespective of the incident of cost as between one parish or another. Before the introduction of a status of irremovability removal might take place (subject to powers of suspension in case of sickness and otherwise) after any interval during which no legal settlement was obtained; mere length of residence without concurrent circumstances involving the acquisition of a settlement on obtaining relief gave no right to a person to remain in the parish where he resided.

In 1846 it was enacted that no person should be removed nor any warrant granted for the removal of any person from any parish in which such persons had resided for five years (9 & IO Vict. c. 66). In 1861 three years was submitted for five (24 & 25 Vict. c. 55); and only four years later one year was substituted for three (28 & 29 Viet. c. 79). Apart from these reductions of time in giving the status of irremovability, actual removals to the parish of settlement were narrowed by provisions giving to residence ill any part of a union the same effect as a residence in any parish of that union (24 & 25 Vict. c. 55). On the other hand the time during which parish relief is received, or during which the person is in any poorhouse or hospital or in a prison, is excluded from the computation of time (9 & 10 Vict. c. 66).

The removability as well as the settlement of the family, ¢.e. of the wife and unemancipated children, are practically subject to one and the same general rule. Wherever any person has a wife or children having another settlement, they are removable where he is removable, and are not removable from any parish or place from which he is not removable (11 & 12 Vict. c. 211). It is to be borne in mind that no person exempted from liability to be removed acquires, by reason of such exemption, any settlement in any parish; but a residence for three years gives a qualified settlement (39 & 40 Vict. c. 61).

The cost of relief of paupers rendered irremovable is borne by the common fund of the union (1 1 & 12 Vict. c. 1 10, § :3) as union expenses (§ 6), and any question arising in the union with reference to the LAW 77

charging relief may be referred to and decided by the local government board (§ 4).

The poor rate is the fund from which the cost of relief is principally derived. Theistatute of Elizabeth (extended in some respects as to places by 13 & 14 Charles II. c. I2) embraced P t two classes of persons subject to taxation-occupiers °°"R" e of real property and inhabitants in respect of personal property, although the rate ability under the latter head was reluctantly conceded by the courts of law, and was in practice only partially acted upon.

As regards occupiers of land and houses, the correct principles as to the persons liable to be rated were, after many erroneous views and decisions, established by the House of Lords in 1865 in the case of the Mersey docks. The only occupier exempt from the operation of the act of Elizabeth is the Crown, on the general principle that such liabilities are not imposed on the sovereign unless expressly mentioned, and that principle applies to the direct and immediate servants of the Crown, whose occupation is the occupation of the Crown itself. If there is a personal private beneficial occupation, so that the occupation is by the subject, that occupation is rateable. Thus for apartments in a royal palace, gratuitously assigned to a subject, who occupies them by permission of the sovereign but for the subjects benefit, the latter is rateable; on the other hand, where a lease of private property is taken in the name of a subject, but the occupation is by the sovereign or his subjects on his behalf, no rate can be imposed. So far the ground of exemption is perfectly intelligible, but it has been carried a good deal further, and applied to many cases in which it can scarcely be said naturally, but only theoretically, that the sovereign or the servants of the sovereign are in occupation. A long series of cases have established that when property is occupied for the purposes of the government of the countr, including under that head the police, and the administration ofyjustice, no one is rateable in respect of such occupation. And this applies not only to property occupied for such purposes by the servants of the great departments of state and the post office, the Horse Guards, and the Admiralty, in all which cases the occupiers might strictly be called the servants of the Crown, but to county buildings occupied for the assizes and for the judge's lodgings, to stations for the local constabulary, to jails and to county courts where undertakings are carried out by or for the government and the government is in occupation; the same principles of exemption have been applied to property held by the office of works.

When the property is not de facto occupied by the Crown or for the Crown, it is rateable; and, although formerly the uses of property for public purposes, even where the Crown was not constructively treated as a ground

who are in law the

trust for public and

lunatic asylurns, are

interested in the way above pointed out, was

for exemption, it is now settled that trustees tenants and occupiers of valuable property in even charitable purposes, such as hospitals or in principle rateable notwithstanding that the buildings are actually occupied by paupers who are sick or insane, and that the notion that persons in the legal occupation of valuable property are not rateable if they occupy in a merely fiduciary character cannot be sustained.

With respect to the particular person to be rated Where there is a rateable occupation, it is to be observed that the tenant, as distinguished from the landlord, is the person to be rated under the statute of Elizabeth; but occupiers of tenements let for short terms may deduct the poor rate paid by them from their rents, or the vestries may order such owners to be rated instead of the occupiers; such payments or deductions do not affect qualification and franchises depending on rating (Po Rate Assessment and Collection Act 1869 and Amendment Act 1(§ r82).

To be rated the occupation must be such as to he of value, and in this sense the word beneficial occupation has been usedin many cases. But it is not necessary that the occupation should be beneficial to the occupier; for, if that were necessary, trustees occupying for various purposes, having no beneficial occupation, would not be liable, and their general liability has been established as indicated in the examples just given.

As to the mode and amount of rating it is no exaggeration to say that the application of a landlord-and-tenant valuation in the terms already given in the Parochial Assessment Act, with the deductions there mentioned, has given rise to litigation on which millions of pounds have been spent with respect to the rating of railways alone, although the established principle applied to them, after much consideration, is to calculate the value of the land as increased by the line.

The Parochial Assessment Act referred to (6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 96), comprising various provisions as to the mode of assessing the rate so far as it authorized the making of a valuation, was repealed in 1869, in relation to the metropolis, and other provisions made for securing uniformity of the assessment of rateable property there (32 & 33 Viet. c. 67).

The mode in which a rate is made and recovered may be concisely stated thus. The guardians appoint an assessment committee of their body for the investigation and supervision of valuations, which are made out in the first instance by the overseers according to specific regulations and in a form showing among other headings the gross