THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION: ITS WORKING AND MACHINERY.
In Article I. of this series, inserted in our last number, we showed who are entitled to be placed on the Burgess Roll, and who are disqualified; the mode in which the Lists are to be first formed, and exhibited for inspection ; the way and manner in which claims to have omitted names inserted in such Lists, must be made, and also the same in regard to objections which may be urged against the retention in the Lists of any specified names. We also stated the dates at which these several acts must be performed, both in general practice, yearly, when the Corporation gets into actual and continuous existence, and also now that the first and extraordinary elections and other proceedings under the Charter, in the way of initiating the new form of local government, have to take place. These explanations and statements brought us up to the point of
REVISION OF THE BURGESS LISTS:
which we now, in like manner, proceed to describe and explain.
By the 20th section of the Municipal Corporation Act, barristers were to be appointed by the senior Judge going the summer circuit in 1835 (the year when the Act came into operation), to revise the Burgess List for that year only.
After that year the revision was appointed, by the 18th section, to take place before the Mayor and two Assessors.
The manner in which these officers are elected will be considered hereafter.
The Mayor and the Assessors are required by that section, every year to hold an open court in the borough, between the 1st and 15th of October inclusive, for the purpose of revising the Burgess List, having given three clear days’ notice thereof, to be fixed upon the door of the Town Hall, or in some public place in the Borough.
The Town Clerk, at the opening of the Court, is to produce the Burgess List, and a copy of the lists of claimants and persons objected to.
The overseers, vestry clerks, and collectors of poor's rates of every parish, are to attend the court, and answer upon oath (or affirmation) all such questions as may be put to them touching any matter necessary to the revision of the Burgess List.
The Mayor is to insert in the Burgess Lists the name of every claimant who shall be proved to the satisfaction of the court to be entitled to be inserted therein.
He is to retain the names of all persons to whom no objection has been made, and also the name of every person who has been objected to, when the objector does not appear, either by himself or some one on his behalf, to support his objection.
He is to expunge the name of every person who has been duly objected to, where the objector does so appear, and the person objected to fails to prove his qualification; and also the name of every person proved to be dead, whether objected to or not.
He is also required to correct any mistake or supply any omission in any of the Lists in respect of the name or place of abode of any person, or of the local description of his property.
By the 19th section the Mayor is empowered to adjourn the court from time to time, so as no adjournment takes place beyond the lath of October, to require any overseer or other person having the custody of any poor rate book to produce the same, and allow it to be inspected, and to administer on oath, or an affirmation, (where by law allowed), to all necessary parties.
The Mayor and Assessors are to determine upon the validity of all claims and objections.
The Mayor is to write his initials against each name inserted or expunged from the lists, and against every correction made therein, and also to sign his name to every page of the lists.
The Mayor and Assessors, in revising the lists, will have to consider and decide upon the validity of the various notices of claims and objections that are brought before them.
The form of these notices may be "to the like effect" with those given in the schedule to the Act [we gave the forms in our last], but any material variation from that form will render the notice nugatory.
Thus the omission of any of the required particulars, such as the premises occupied by the party, the township in which he has been rated, or the place of his abode, will invalidate a notice of claim.
So a similar omission in a notice of objection will destroy its effect, and the party will not be heard in support of his objection.
Thus, as the notice is required to contain a statement of "the place of abode," and also of the property for which the objector is said to be rated in the Burgess List, a notice signed "A. B., King's Quay, Harwich," is insufficient, as it contains no description of the situation of the objector's property.
It seems that both a notice of claim and a notice of objection should be signed by the party himself and not by his agent, and that a date of the day and month, without the year, would be insufficient.
OF THE BURGESS ROLL AND WARD LISTS.
When the Burgess Lists have been thus revised and signed, the Mayor is directed by the 22nd section of the Municipal Corporation Act to deliver them to the Town Clerk, who is to keep them, and cause a general alphabetical list to be made from them in a book, with every name numbered. This book is to be completed by the 22nd of October, and forms the Burgess Roll;— or the roll of the Burgesses entitled to vote in the choice of the Councillors, Assessors, and Auditors, under the Act, at any election which may take place between the 1st of November in the year when the Roll is made and the 1st of November following.
By section 45, however, it is provided that where a Borough is divided into Wards, the Burgess Roll shall be made out in Alphabetical Lists of the Burgesses in each Ward, to be called "Ward Lists."
The 23rd section requires the Town Clerk to have written or printed copies of the Burgess Roll (which would include the "Ward Lists" above-mentioned) made every year; to be delivered to any person applying for them upon payment of a reasonable price for each copy; and the monies arising from such sale, and also of the Overseers'’ Lists and Lists of Claims and Objections before-mentioned, are to be paid over to the Treasurer, and to be applied by him in aid of the Borough Fund, under section 92.
It is provided by the 22nd section that no stamp duty shall be payable for the admission, registry, or enrolment of any Burgess under the Act.
The 5th section of the 7 Wm. 4 and 1 Vict. c. 78 enacts that no Burgess Roll shall be questioned for the want of title of the Mayor or Assessors, provided they were in actual possession of office at the time of the revision.
The 6th section of the same Act provides that if from any neglect or informality a new Burgess Roll shall not have been made within the time directed by the Municipal Corporation Act, the Burgess Roll previously in force shall continue to be so until a new Burgess Roll shall have been made.
The 7th section enacts, that Corporations in which no new Burgess Roll was made in the previous month of October, shall not therefore be taken to be dissolved.
Under the Municipal Corporation Act the decision of the Mayor and Assessors, either as to the rejection of a claim or the expunging of a name from the Burgess List, was conclusive; but by the 7 Wm. 4 and 1 Vic. c. 78, s. 24, it is enacted that any person whose claim may have been so rejected or whose name so expunged may apply before the end of the next terra to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a mandamus to the Mayor to insert his name, and for the Court to enquire into his title to be enrolled; and if the Court award the mandamus the Mayor is to insert the name upon the Burgess Roll, and to add the words "By order of the Court of Queen’s Bench," and to subscribe his name thereto.
This appears to be a very cumbrous, expensive, and dilatory machinery for effecting the object in view; and a direct appeal to the Court from the decision of the Mayor, in the nature of the appeal from Revising Barristers to the Court of Common Pleas, given by the Parliamentary Registration Act, would be preferable.
The Court will exercise their powers under this clause if they are satisfied that a party is entitled to be on the Burgess Roll, even though there was no Burgess List before the Mayor, upon which his name could have been inserted.
In a Borough comprising several districts, an inhabitant of one district qualified to be a Burgess had sent in to the Town Clerk, before the annual revision, his notice of claim to be placed on the Burgess List for his district. The Overseers neglected to send any Burgess List for that district to the Revision Court; the Mayor, consequently, decided (against the opinion of the Assessor) that the applicant’s name could not be placed on any list, though he proved his qualification, and the Burgess Roll was made up, omitting his name. The Court granted a mandamus to the Mayor under this statue, to insert the name of the claimant in the Burgess Roll.
A question was raised in the case, but not decided, whether under such circumstances the Revision Court might make an original list for the district.
Upon an application for a mandamus under this Act, the court will enquire into the whole title of the applicant.
It is not, therefore, sufficient for him to show that his name was inserted by the Overseers, and was expunged by the Mayor on an objection, which, for want of legal notice, the party alleges ought not to have been heard.
The Court will not limit their enquiry to the points raised before the Mayor on the Revision.
A person whoso name had been omitted from the Burgess List in consequence of his refusal to pay a Borough Rate, claimed to have his name inserted, but his claim was rejected by the Mayor and Assessors. Upon a motion for a mandamus to the Mayor to insert the name on the Burgess Roll, the Court, having enquired into all the circumstances of the case, decided that the applicant was not bound to pay the rate in question, and awarded a mandamus.
The mandamus is not peremptory in the first instance; and it will be directed to the Mayor of the Borough generally, though the Mayor who presided at the Revision Court had gone out of office before the rule nisi was obtained.
If the rule is discharged it will be with costs, upon the general principle that where a party, required by law to pronounce a decision on certain points, is brought before the Court by a motion impunging such decision, he is entitled to costs if the application fails.
The several proceedings herein pointed out having been taken and gone through, the Burgess Roll and the Ward Lists are complete, and all ready for the Election of the specified number of Councillors in each Ward of the Borough. We shall, in our next article, show how and by whom these elections are to be taken — what are the qualifications, necessary to be possessed by a Burgess seeking or permitting himself to be elected Councillor, and what the disqualifications — with other matters relating to that branch of the subject.