Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Aug/1868) - The Municipal Corporation: Its Working and Machinery
THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION: ITS WORKING AND MACHINERY.
The Charter of Incorporation for the Municipal Borough of Huddersfield having been granted, and the initiatory steps for bringing it into working operation having been taken, we shall, — as the matter is new in this district, and the modes of procedure somewhat novel, and, in many things, totally different to the systems with which the ratepayers have hitherto had to deal, — endeavour to give, in a series of articles, such information and explanation upon the several subjects connected with the Charter and its operation as will, we hope, put the public of the locality in possession of the law and practice on each point in due order, as it arises.
We commence, then, with that which is the foundation of the whole municipal structure — the Burgess List — showing how it is formed, of whom and what composed, and when claims from persons whose names are omitted, or objections to the names of persons being retained who do not possess the necessary qualification, are to be made and delivered.
We must premise, that the first forming of the Burgess List for the Municipal Borough of Huddersfield, the Revision thereof, and the first election of Councillors under it, is an extraordinary proceeding;
That though in what follows, we give the dates set forth in the Municipal Corporations Acts, as the days on which certain things are to be done yearly, when the Corporation has got into full operation, yet, for the present extraordinary proceedings, it must be understood that the date for the publication of the Burgess List is July 27th, ult; for the delivery of "Claims" and Objections, on or before August 6th inst.; and for the publication of the Lists of Claims and Objections, the 8th day of August, inst.;
And that whenever the word "Town Clerk" is used in what follows, it must be understood to mean Mr. Joseph Batley, Clerk to the Improvement Commissioners, who is the officer named in the Charter to perform certain requisite duties until a Town Clerk can be regularly appointed by the Town Council.
Formation of the Burgess List.
In order to form the Burgess Roll, by the 15th section of the Municipal Corporation Act, the Overseers of the poor of any parish, or the persons who execute the duties of Overseers, are directed, on the 5th of September in every year, to make out an alphabetical list of persons entitled to be enrolled on the Burgess Roll in respect of property within the parish (which list is to contain the name at full length of the party, the nature of the property rated, and the street, &c., where the property is situated, for which he is then rated); the Overseers are also to sign such list; to deliver it on the same day to the Town Clerk of the Borough, or to the person executing the duties of Town Clerk; and to keep a true copy of it to be perused by any person without fee, at all reasonable hours between that day and the 15th of September.
By the 48th section of the same Act, if any Overseer neglects or refuses to make out, sign and deliver such list, or to allow any person having right thereto, to peruse the same, he shall for every such offence be liable to a penalty of £50.
The 15th section further requires the Town Clerk to cause copies to be printed of all the Overseers’ lists delivered to him; to deliver a copy of all such lists to any person requiring the same, on payment of a reasonable price for each copy; and to cause a copy of all such lists to be fixed on the door of the Town Hall, or in some conspicuous place in the Borough, on the 8th of September, and every day during the week following.
By the 48th section, the Town Clerk is liable to a penalty of £50 if he shall neglect or refuse to receive, print, and publish the lists as required, or shall refuse to allow any such lists to be perused by any person having a right thereto.
By the 17th section, any person whose name has been omitted from a Burgess List, may, on or before the 15th September, give to the Town Clerk a written notice of claim to have his name inserted therein; which notice must specify the premises occupied by the party, the parish in which he has been rated, and the period for which he has been rated; it must also be signed by the claimant, and state the place of his abode.
By the same section, any person whose name has been inserted in a Burgess List may object to any other person as not entitled to have his name retained therein; and for this purpose he is, on or before the 15th September, to give to the Town Clerk, and also to the person objected to, or leave at the premises for which he shall appear to be rated in the list, a written notice of his objection; which notice is to describe the person objected to as described in the Burgess List, is to be signed by the objector, and to state his place of abode and the property for which he is said to be rated in the list.
It is to be observed that this Act does not give power to any person to oppose the claim of another to have his name inserted in a Burgess List; the right of objection being limited to the retaining of names upon the list.
By the 17th section of the Municipal Corporation Act. the Town Clerk is required to make a list of the claimants, which is to state the name of each claimant, the nature and situation of the property for which he is then rated, and the parish or parishes in which he has been rated, as stated in his claim.
He is also to make out a similar list of persons objected to, which is likewise to state the name of each such person, the nature of the property for which he is then rated, the situation of the property for which he is said to be then rated in the Overseers’ list, and the parish in which is the property for which he is so said to be rated.
He is to cause copies of such last-mentioned lists to be fixed on the door of the Town Hall or in some public situation within the Borough, during the eight days next preceding the 1st of October.
And he is to keep a copy of each list, to be perused by any person without fee, at all reasonable hours during that period (Sundays excepted), and to deliver a copy to any person requiring it upon payment of 1s. for each copy.
We give forms of "Notice of Claim" and "Notice of Objection":—
Notice of Claim.
- To Joseph Batley of the Borough of Huddersfield.
- I hereby give you notice, that I claim to have my name inserted in the Burgess List of the Borough of Huddersfield, that I occupy [here describe the house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop then occupied by the claimant] in the Borough, and that I have been rated in the township of ____
- Dated the 5th day of August, in the year 1868.
- John Allen, of [place of abode.]
Notice of Objection.
- To Joseph Batley, of the Borough of Huddersfield, [or to the person objected to as the case may be.]
- I hereby give you notice, that I object to the name of Thos. Bates, of Brook's Farm, in the parish of _____, [describe the person objected to as described in the Burgess List] being retained on the Burgess List of the Borough of Huddersfield.
- Dated the 5th day of August, in the year of 1868.
- John Ashton of [here state the place of abode and property for which he is said to be rated in the Burgess List.]
Qualification of Burgesses.
In order to entitle a party to the privilege of the qualification as a Burgess, conferred by the 9th section of the Municipal Corporation Act, he is required:—
- To be of full age:
- To have occupied, on the 31st of August in each year, for three years previous, a house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop within the Borough:
- To have been, during that period, an inhabitant householder within the Borough, or within seven miles of it:
- To have been rated in respect of the premises in his occupation to the poor-rates of the township where they are situated:
- To have paid, on or before the 31st of August in each year, all such rates and all Borough rates as shall be payable by him in respect of the premises, and shall have been due for six calendar months before that day; and
- To be duly enrolled under the provisions of the Act.
The same section provides that no person shall be "enrolled" who
- Is an alien; or
- Has within twelve calendar months before the 31st of August, received parochial relief, or other alms; or any pension or charitable allowance from the charity funds of the Borough.
Of the Nature of the Premises Occupied.
The premises mentioned in the Act are a "house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop."
The words "or other building" which are contained in the 27th section of the Parliamentary Reform Act, 1832, are omitted in this Statute, and consequently the occupiers of sheds, stables, rooms or floors in factories, kilns, and the like; or of apartments in a house, where the landlord occupies a portion of the premises but does not reside therein, who would under the Reform Act be entitled to the Parliamentary Franchise, are not entitled to the Municipal Franchise as Burgesses.
It is to be observed, however, that while the Reform Act requires that the premises occupied by the voter should be of the yearly value of £10, there is no such requirements in the Municipal Corporation Act; so that if the occupation of a mere "building," without reference to its value, had conferred the rights of a Burgess, there could have been hardly an assignable limit to the class who might have become entitled to the new qualification.
It has been decided that a party residing in a house, for the whole of which he is rated, is entitled to be on the Burgess Roll as an occupier of a house, notwithstanding he lets a room in the house, at a yearly rent, to a person who does not sleep there.
It seems that it would make no difference if the person to whom the room was let did sleep there, as in such case he would only be considered as an inmate or lodger while the tenant of the house resided there, and the latter would in law be considered as in the occupation of the whole house.
On the other hand, where different tenements are under the same roof, and open into a common passage and staircase, there being no outer door opening to the street, it has been held that the rated occupier of every such tenement was qualified as the occupier of a house. And indeed where a house is let out in separate portions, to different tenants, although there is an outer door, but which is common to all of them, if the landlord does not reside upon the premises, the portion that is in the occupation of such tenant is considered in law as his house.
And it seems that it will make no difference if the landlord occupies a portion of the house for the purposes of business, such as a shop, but does not reside on any part of the premises, even though he kept a servant resident on the premises to look after them, and for the accomodation of himself and the other occupiers.
But where the tenant and occupier of a house underlet a cellar which was beneath, and had an internal communication with the house; and the under-tenant used the cellar as a warehouse, and was separately rated for it: it was held that the tenant could not qualify as a Burgess for the house independently of the cellar.
The meaning of the word "house" is not necessarily restricted to a dwelling-house; and a building therefore constructed as a dwelling-house will still be considered as a house, though it way be used for other purposes.
A building, the lower part of which is used as a cowhouse or stable, and the upper part, consisting of a chamber, as a dwelling place, has also been considered to constitute a "house."
Where A. entered into partnership by deed with B., who was the owner in fee of a house within the Borough, in which house it was agreed that the business of bookselling should be jointly carried on by them; B. to require no rent for the part of the house in which the business was carried on, and the fixtures in those parts to be joint property; and A. and B. carried on business there accordingly, and were jointly rated for the house, A. residing elsewhere; the court thought that A. was an occupier, and entitled to be a Burgess.
The period required by the Act for the occupation of the premises is three years, — "during that year and the whole of two preceding years;" — but there is a provision in the 9th section that the premises need not be the same, or in the same parish.
And by the 12th section it is enacted, that where premises shall come to any person by descent, marriage, marriage settlement, devise, or promotion to any benefice or office, the occupancy of the person from whom the occupancy shall come to him shall reckon as his own occupancy.
And by the 8th section of the 7 Wm. 4 and 1 Vict., c. 78, it is further enacted, that in such cases it shall not be necessary for the claimant to prove that he was an inhabitant householder within the required limits, or that he was an occupant or rated within the Borough before the title of such property shall have devolved upon him.
Of the Payment of Rates.
The 9th section of the Municipal Corporation Act requires that all poor-rates and all Borough rates, directed to be paid by the provisions thereof, that have become payable more than six months before the 31st of August in each year, shall be paid on or before that day.
The payment must be made by the party himself or his agent. An unauthorised payment by another person on his behalf will not be sufficient. Where, therefore, it appeared that certain persons, being in arrear for their rates and unable to pay them, a third party, a volunteer, for political purposes, paid the whole of the arrears in a gross sum, in some cases without the knowledge of the persons from whom they were due, and without any authority from them, it was held that this was not sufficient. "If the practice described were to prevail," observed Lord Denman, C. J., "there would be great danger of the most enormous bribery."
On the other hand, where there exists a bona fide arrangement between a landlord and his tenant, that the former shall pay all rates and taxes in respect of the premises occupied by the latter, the tenant paying an additional rent in consequence thereof, the payment of the landlord will operate in law as a payment of the tenant.
- Aliens. An Alien is one born out of the Queen's dominion or allegiance, who has not been naturalized by Act of Parliament, or made a denizen by letters patent.
- Receipt of Alms. The alms mentioned in the statute, the receipt of which within twelve calendar months before the 31st of August, will disqualify a party from being a Burgess, consist of "parochial relief or other alms, or any pension or charitable allowance from any fund intrusted to the charitable trustees" of the Borough.
It is enacted, however, by the 10th section of the statute that medical or surgical assistance given by the charitable trustees of a Borough, or the instruction of the child of any person in a public or endowed school, shall not be a cause of disqualification.
The Court of Queen’s Bench have decided that the words "other alms" mentioned in conjunction with "parochial relief" in the 9th section, mean some description of alms in the nature of parochial relief.
It seems that, in order to constitute parochial alms a relief, the fund of which it is received must be of a public nature, and must be administered by the officers of the parish.
It seems that parochial relief of any kind, given either to a party himself, or with his knowledge and consent to any member of his family whom he is bound to support, will disqualify him from acting as a Burgess.
Relief, therefore, in any shape, whether by taking the party or his family into the workhouse, or by giving them relief either in money or kind out of doors, or by employing them as parish labourers either at lower wages than other labourers receive, or probably even at the same rate, if the wages were paid out of the parish funds, would act as a disqualification.
It will be observed, however, that medical or surgical assistance given by the charitable trustees of the Borough will not disqualify a party; but medical relief given by the parish, whether by the administration of medicine or by the attendance of the parish apothecary upon the party himself, or upon his wife during her lying-in, will have the effect of disqualifying. The being sent to a lunatic asylum at the parish expense will have the same effect.
We shall follow the subject up next week, by treating of the Revision of the Burgess Lists, and other matters.