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purpose. The Parish Meeting in every parish should therefore appoint a small permanent committee with instructions to obtain the use of the schoolroom for any candidate who desires it. It is desirable as a rule to give a week's notice, and meetings can only be held at times which will not interfere with the ordinary use of the school. The persons making use of the rooms must pay the cost of lighting, etc. This right does not belong to Urban Districts unless they have obtained from the Local Government Board the powers of a Parish Council.
Elections at the Parish Meeting. Parish Councillors are nominated at the Parish Meeting on printed forms supplied by the overseers. Written forms are equally good if correctly made out. Each nomination must be signed by two Parish Electors. The law specially provides that no istake in spelling or other error of that sort shall make a nomination invalid, provided it is quite clear who is the person nominated, and who nominates him. If the chairman decides that a nomination paper is valid, no one can afterwards object to it. If he wrongly decides that a nomination is invalid, it would be possible, though very expensive, to reverse his decision by an election petition. The nominations must be handed to the chairman, who must read them over in alphabetical order. A person nominated may withdraw at the meeting before the voting takes place, but not after it, unless a poll is demanded. Before the voting, any elector can ask questions of the candidates, and all candidates, whether electors or only residents, have a right to be present and to reply to the questions asked, and it is the duty of the chairman to allow time for this to be done. At the meeting the candidates are voted for by show of hands. Candidates, if electors, can vote for themselves, and practically electors can vote for as many candidates as they like; since, although the law says they must not vote for more than the number of Councillors to be elected, it gives the chairman no power to refuse any elector's vote.
Any one* elector, but not a candidate, unless he is an elector, can demand a poll. Candidates can withdraw after a poll is demanded by a formal letter to the Returning Officer, up to six days before the poll. But the nominators of a candidate cannot withdraw him.
Elections by Ballot. All polls for Parish and District Councillors and Guardians are conducted under nearly the same rules. They are by secret ballot ; each elector can give one vote and no more to as many candidates as there are vacancies.
Casual Vacancies. Vacancies may be caused by a Councillor or Guardian dying, becoming disqualified through receipt of poor relief, bankruptcy, crime, &c. (see page 3), or by failing to attend meetings for six months consecutively (unless prevented by illness or some other
* See note, page 7.
reason approved by the Council, or by resignation. A person wh ceases to be qualified by ceasing to be a resident or an elector, remain a Councillor until his term of office expires.
PART II. DESCRIPTION.
The Parish Meeting where there is no Council. In parishes of less than 300 inhabitants the governing body usually the Parish Meeting. It must assemble at least twice a yea It must appoint at the annual meeting in March a chairman and tw or more overseers, who together form the official body. Other meeting may be called at any time by the chairman or by any six elector Documents must be signed by the chairman and two parish electa at the meeting. If the chairman be absent, another may be elected who will, during that meeting, possess all the powers of the chairmar All Parish Meetings in parishes with or without a Council, must b held not earlier than six o'clock in the evening. This rule applie to Parish Meetings only, and not to meetings of any Council.
The Parish Meeting where there is a Council. This must meet at least once a year, within seven days of March 25th, to receive nominations for the Parish Council, and to elect i unless a poll is demanded.
The chairman of the Parish Council has the right to preside unless he be a candidate for the Council. If nominated as Councillo he must, unless he declines to stand, at once ask the meeting to choose another chairman. In that case, or if the chairman of the Council is absent, the meeting may elect as chairman any parish elector.
The Parish Meeting has many other very important duties. It must consider the accounts of every Parish Charity. It can refuse to pass them, and can appeal to the Charity Commissioners if they are not satisfactory. It must be consulted if the Council propose to spend more than a 3d. rate. No right of way can be stopped without its consent. It has to decide whether the village shall have a recreation ground and free library, lights in the street, and a new burial ground. It should appoint a committee to secure the use of the schoolroom for candidates for the Council, or for meetings to discuss allotments. It can appoint committees, and it can pass resolutions on any subject that concerns the parish or any
It is the Parliament of the village, which has the right to assemble at any time and to discuss and demand redress of any grievances which the villagers have. It can instruct the Parish Council (that is its Executive Committee) to take any action which it thinks needful. W atever the Parish Counc can do, the Parish Meeting can discuss.
It can be summoned by demand of any six parish electors, or any iwo Parish Councillors, or by the chairman. The demand must be written, printed, or otherwise manifolded, and must be signed by the persons demanding the meeting. It must specify the time, place,
part of it.
and object of the meeting, and must be posted on the church door, and in other conspicuous places in the parish. Seven clear days' notice must generally be given. Large parishes may be divided into wards, and smalı nes be united into groups ; but each ward or each small parish has its own Parish Meeting and elects its own Councillors to sit on the common Parish Council. A ward has not a separate meeting for any purpose except electing Councillor3.
The Parish Council.
This Council is elected at or after the Annual Parish Meeting in March or April (except in 1895, when there is no new election), and holds office for one year. Its first duty is to elect a chairman, who may be one of the members or any other person qualified to be a Parish Councillor for the parish. The chairman in all cases has a second or casting vote. It must also appoint a clerk. If there is a vestry clerk (appointed by the Act of 1850), he remains clerk. Otherwise, the Council may appoint one of its own members without pay. Failing this, the assistant-overseer, if there is one, must be paid clerk. Failing either of these, any other person may be appointed, with or without pay. But the Council cannot have two paid officers. The same person must be assistant overseer and paid clerk, except in parishes where there was a vestry clerk and an assistant-overseer before 1895. The Council may also appoint as treasurer, without pay, a Councillor or any other person. A Councillor can resign by sending a letter of resignation to the chairman ; and there is no fine for so doing: Vacancies in the Council are filled by the Council itself electing a new member. Meetings of the Council are open to the public unless a special resolution to the contrary is passed by the Council.
Other Regulations for all Rural Parishes. Rooms. If there is a room belonging to the parish which can be had free of charge, the meetings are held there. But if not, then a room in an elementary school which receives public money, or in a police station or workhouse or other building maintained out of the rates, may be used free of charge, provided that the ordinary employment of the room is not interfered with. If none of these be available, a room may be hired. The Parish Meeting or Council may only assemble in a room in a public-house when no other room can be obtained free of charge or at a reasonable cost.
These regulations apply to all Parish Meetings, to meetings of the Parish Councils, and to meetings held to consider about allotments. They do not apply to Urban Districts.
POLLS.- A poll may be demanded on any matter on which a vote has been taken at a Parish Meeting, and the demand may be made at any time before the conclusion of the meeting. Five electors, or one-third of the electors present (whichever number is the lesser), or one elector with the consent of the chairman, can demand a poll. But one elector can demand a poll for (1) the election of Councillors* ;
* Unless altered by the Local Government Board Rules.
connected with a committee ; (3) appointment of overseer, and appointment or otherwise of assistant-overseer ; (4) appointment of trustees, or beneficiaries of a charity ; (5) adoption of free libraries, baths and washhouses, and other Acts ; (6) formation and dissolution of a School Board ; (7) place and time of Parish Meeting ; (8) the incurring of any expense ; (9) applications or complaints to County or District Council ; (10) and several other matters.
The Urban District Council. In small towns and thickly populated districts such as the suburbs of large towns, the local governing authority is the newly created Urban District Council. It has powers and duties very similar to those exercised by the Town Council in large towns, except that it dons not control the police. In an Urban District there are no Parish Meetings or Councils. The Rural District Council has no control over it, and the Guardians are separately elected. Urban Districts are usually divided into wards, each of which elects a certain number of members. The members are elected to sit for three years, one-third retiring each year; but the County Council may make an order that all the Councillors retire together every third year, if the Urban District Council, by a two-thirds majority of the members voting, applies for it. A chairman must be appointed, who may be elected from outside the Council. A vice-chairman, who must be a Councillor, may also be appointed. The chairman has a second or casting vote, and, unless a woman, is a J.P. by virtue of his office.
A Councillor can resign by sending a letter to the clerk, but he must pay the fine determined upon by the bye-law of the Council, or failing such a bye-law, the sum of £25. A casual vacancy is filled by a fresh election, unless it occurs within six months of a new election coming in ordinary course, in which case it is not filled.
The Rural District Council. In all parts of the country_outside London, except boroughs and Urban Districts, there are Rural District Councils. That is to say, wherever there are Parish Councils or Parish Meetings, there are also Rural District Councils. Each of the parishes in any Poor Law Union, except the parishes in towns or urban districts, send one or more members to its Rural District Council. If there is a contest, the election must be by ballot, and with this election the Parish Meeting has nothing to do. The Councillors sit for three years, and one-third of them retire every year. But the County Council can make an order, if the Rural District Council apply for it, that all the Councillors shall retire together once every three years. And further, when the Board of Guardians in any district has previously sat for three years, and all have retired together, the Rural District Council will continue to do the same. The rules as to chairman, vice-chairman, retirement of Councillors, and casual vacancies are exactly the same as for Urban District Councils.
Boards of Guardians are elected all over England and Wales. In Rural Districts the Rural District Councillors are also Guardians, and, in Unions where there is no Borough or Urban District, the Rural District Council and the Guardians consist of the same persons sitting for different purposes and under different rules. In Unions which contain Urban Districts or Boroughs, the Board of Guardians consist of the Rural District Councillors elected in the Rural Districts, together with Guardians specially elected in the parishes which are in the Boroughs or Urban Districts.
The rule as to period of office is exactly the same as for Rural District Councillors. (See page 8).
The Board may elect a chairman or vice-chairman, or both, and not more than two other persons from outside their own body. But every person so co-opted must be qualified to be a Guardian in the Union. The chairman has a second or casting vote. Casual vacancies are filled in the same
as in Urban District Councils.
PART III. POWERS.
Powers of the Parish Meeting where there is no
Parish Council. In parishes where there is no Council, the Parish Meeting possesses very nearly all the powers, duties, and rights of a Parish Council
, and it can obtain all of them by application to the County Council.
If the parish has at least one hundred inhabitants, it may apply to the County Council for a Parish Council, and the application must be granted. A parish with less than one hundred inhabitants may also apply, but in this case the County Council is not obliged to grant the application.
It may also apply to be grouped with other parishes and so obtain a Parish Council.
The following are most of the powers and duties which the Meeting of a Parish without a Council does not possess, but which it may gain by obtaining either a Parish Council or the powers of a Parish Council :(1) Power to acquire land, by purchase or gift, for a recreation
ground, for a parish hall, for allotments, or any other
purpose. (2) The powers and duties of overseers and churchwardens in
respect of rating appeals, and in respect of providing parish
books, chest, &c., and a fire-engine and fire-escape. (3) Power to appoint additional trustees to certain charities,
except where there is at present only one trustee. With these exceptions, the whole of the following paragraphs, dealing with Parish Councils, apply also to parishes which have only a Parish Meeting.