Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/92

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78
POOR LAW


estimated rental of all property and the names of occupiers and owners, and the rateable value after the deductions specified in the Assessment Act already mentioned, and as prescribed by the central board. This valuation list, made and signed by the overseers, is published, and all persons assessed or liable to be assessed, and other interested parties, may, including the officers of other parishes, inspect and take copies of and extracts from that list. A multitude of provisions exist in relation to the valuation and supplemental valuation lists. Objections on the ground of unfairness or incorrectness are dealt with by the committee, who hold meetings to hear and determine such objections. The valuation list, where approved by the committee, is delivered to the overseers, who proceed to make the rate in accordance with the valuation lists and in a prescribed form of rate book. The parish officers certify to the examination and comparison of the rate book with the assessments, and obtain the consent of justices as required by the statute of Elizabeth. This consent or allowance of the rate is merely a ministerial act, and if the rate is good on the face of it the justices cannot inquire into its validity.

The rate is then published and open to inspection. Appeals may be made to special or quarter sessions against the rate, subject to the restriction that, if the objection were such that it might have been dealt with on the valuation lists, no appeal to sessions is permitted unless the valuation list has been duly objected to and the objector had failed to obtain such relief in the matter as he deemed to be just. In the metropolis a common basis of value for the purposes of government and local taxation is provided, including the promotion of uniformity in the assessment of rateable property. Provision is made for the appointment of an assessment committee by guardians or vestries, and for the preparation of valuation lists, and the deposit and distribution of valuation lists, and for the periodical revision of valuation lists.

Many endeavours have been made to readjust the burden of local expenditure. The system of making grants from the national taxes in aid of local rates has been extended. The principle of the metropolitan common poor fund, a device for giving metropolitan grants assessed on the whole of London in aid of the London local poor law authorities, has been followed, mutatis mutandis, in the relations between the national and the local exchequers. At the time of the repeal of the corn laws, Sir Robert Peel expressed an opinion that this fiscal change necessitated some readjustment of local rates. In that year, 1846, a beginning of grants from the national exchequer in aid of local expenditure was made. The salaries of poor-law teachers, medical officers and auditors were provided from the larger area of taxation, and in 1867 the salaries of public vaccinators were added to the list. In 1874 a grant of 4s. per head per week was made for each pauper lunatic passed by the guardians to the care of a lunatic asylum. By the Local Government Act 1888, supplemented by the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act 1890, this principle was more widely extended. The various grants in aid were abolished, and in substitution the proceeds of certain specified taxes were set aside for local purposes. From this source, the gross amount of which of course varies, there are now distributed to local poor-law authorities some 4s. a week for lunatics in asylums, and allowances based on their average expenditure in previous years in salaries of officials and other specified charges. In London, in order not to conflict with the operation of the common poor fund, which had already spread these charges over a wide area, the grant takes the form of a sum equivalent to about 4d. per diem for each indoor pauper. The number on which this calculation is based is not, however, to be the actual number, but the average of the last five years previous to the passing of the act. By this legislation something like one quarter of the total expenditure oif poor law relief is obtained from national taxes as opposed to local rates. By the Agricultural Rates Act 1896 the occupier of agricultural land was excused one-half of certain rates, including the poor rate. The deficiency is supplied by a contribution from the national exchequer. Meanwhile, the spending authority continue to be elected by the local ratepayers. In this connexion two further anomalies deserve notice. By the Poor Rate Assessment and Collection Act 1869 owners who compound to pay the-rates in respect of tenement property are entitled to certain deductions by way of commission. Such payments by the owner are constructively payments by the occupier, who thereby is to be deemed duly rated for any qualification or franchise. Under these arrangements a large number of electors do not contribute directly to the rate. A converse process is also going on, whereby the ownership of an important and increasing body of property is practically unrepresented. This is due to the great growth of property in the hands of railway companies, docks and limited liability companies generally. The railways alone are said to pay considerably over 13% of the local taxation of the country, and they have no local representation. There is, in fact, in local administration a divorce between representation and taxation to a greater extent than is generally supposed, and it is impossible not to connect the fact with the rapid growth of iocal expenditure and indebtedness.

Royal Commission of 1905–1909.—The main points of the system of English poor relief, as still in force in 1910, are as outlined above. That it has been inadequate in dealing with the various problems of unemployment and pauperism, which the constantly changing conditions of the industrial world necessarily, evolve had however been long acknowledged. Accordingly in 1905 a royal commission was appointed to inquire into the Working of the law relating to the relief of poor persons, and into the various means adopted outside of the poor laws for meeting distress arising from want of employment, particularly during the periods of severe industrial depression. The commission

took voluminous evidence[1] and its report was issued in

  1. The appendix volumes to the Report of the Royal Commission number thirty-four. Their contents are as follows- vol. i. English Official Evidence, minutes of evidence mainly of the officers of the Local Government Board for England and Wales; vol. ii. London Evidence, minutes of evidence mainly of London witnesses; vol. iii. Associations and Critics, minutes of evidence mainly of critics of the Poor Law and of witnesses representing Poor Law and Charitable Associations; vol. iv Urban Centres, minutes of evidence containing the oral and written evidence of the British Medical Association and of witnesses from the following provincial urban centres-Liverpool and Manchester districts, West Yorkshire, Midland Towns; vol. v. Minutes of Evidence containing the -oral and written evidence of witnesses from urban centres in the following districts-South Wales and North Eastern Counties; vol. vi. Minutes of Evidence relating to Scotland; vol. vii. Minutes of Evidence containing the oral and written evidence of witnesses from various rural centres in the South Western, Western and Eastern Counties, from the parish of Poplar Borough and from the National Conference of Friendly Societies; vol. viii. Minutes of Evidence containing the oral and written evidence of witnesses relating chiefly to the subject of “ unemplo ment ”; vol. ix. Evidence of further witnesses on the subject ofy unemployment; vol. x. Minutes of Evidence relating to Ireland; vol. xi. Miscellaneous Papers. Communications from Boards of Guardians and others, &c., vol. xii. Reports, Memoranda and Tables prepared by certain of the Commissioners; vol. xiii. Diocesan Reports on the Methods of administering charitable assistance and .the extent and intensity of poverty in England and Wales; vol. xiv. Report on the Methods and Results of the present system of administering indoor and outdoor poor law medical relief in certain unions in England and Wales, by Dr ]. C. McVail; vol. xv. Report on the Administrative Relation of Charity and the Poor Law, and the extent and the actual and potential utility of Endowed and Voluntary Charities in England and Scotland, by A. C. Kay and H. V. Toynbee; vol. xvi. Reports on the Relation of Industrial and Sanitary Conditions to Pauperism, by Steel Maitland and Miss R. E. Squire; vol. xvii. Reports on the effect of Outdoor Relief on Wages and the Conditions of Employment, by Thomas Jones and Miss Williams; vol. xviii. Report on the Condition of the Children who are in receipt of the various forms of Poor Law Relief in certain Unions in London and in the Provinces, by Dr Ethel Williams and Miss Longman and Miss Phillips; vol. xix. Reports on the Effects of Employment or Assistance given to the Unemployed since 1886 as a means of relieving distress outside the Poor Law in London, and generally throughout England and Wales, and in Scotland and Ireland, by Cyril Jackson and Rev. ]. C. Pringle; vol. xx Report on Boy Labour in London and certain other typical towns, by Cyril Jackson, with a Memorandum from the General Post Office on the Conditions of Employment of Telegraph Messengers; vol. xxi. Reports on the Effect of the Refusal of Out-Relief on the Applicants for such Relief, by Miss G. Harlock; vol. xxii. Report on the Overlap ing of the work of the Voluntary General Hospitals with that of Poor Law Medical Relief in certain districts of London, by Miss M. B. Roberts; vol. xxiii. Report on the Condition of the Children who are in receipt of the various forms of Poor Law Relief in certain parishes in Scotland, by Dr C. T. Parsons and Miss Longman and Miss Phillips; vol. xxiv. Report on a Comparison of the Physical Condition of “ Ordinary ” Paupers in certain Scottish Poorhouses with that of the Able-bodied Paupers in certain English Workhouses and Labour Yards, by Dr C. 'l'. Parsons; vol. xxv. Statistical Memoranda and Tables relating to England and Wales, prepared by the Staff of the Commission and by Government Departments and others, and Actuarial Reports; vol. xxvi. Documents relating more especially to the administration of charities; vol. xxvii. Replies by Distress Committees in England and Wales to Questions circulated on the subject of the Unemployed Workmen Act 1905; vol. xxviii. Reports of Visits to Poor Law and Charitable Institutions and to Meetings of Local Authorities in the United Kingdom; vol. xxix. Report on the Methods of Administering Charitable Assistance and the extent and intensity of Poverty in Scotland, prepared by the Committee on Church Interests appointed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; vol. xxx. Documents relating especially to Scotland; vol. xxxi. Statistical Memoranda and Tables relating to Ireland, &c.; vol. xxxii. Report on Visits paid by the Foreign Labour Colonies Committee of the Commission to certain Institutions in Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland; vol. xxxiii. Foreign and Colonial Systems of Poor Relief, with a memorandum on the Relief of Famines in India; vol. xxxiv. Alphabetical Lists of Oral and Non-oral Witnesses.