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An important amendment was made last session in the Rating Act, 1876, and it is an alteration which particularly affects all local rating bodies at the present season of the year, when all of them have their collectors in the field gathering in the rates. Under the 1876 Act, public bodies had power to sell holdings, or parts of them, when all other means of collecting the rates had been tried and failed. Now, although it is no doubt very aggravating for Road Boards and Municipal Councils to have on their rolls names of owners of property who cannot be found, or served with any legal process, and meanwhile the land they are rated for becomes year after year more valuable through improvements effected by their neighbors and the public boards : yet, we very much question the legality of the arbitary power conferred by the 1876 Act on local bodies, since it upset all our preconceived ideas of the virtue of a Crown Grant, an instrument we always understood to be infallible and not to be upset or questioned in any court of law. It was probably for this reason that the Amendment Act of 1879 was passed. By this Act the power to sell is now repealed, and a clause is inserted giving the Municipal Councils and Road Boards authority to lease the land in arrear for rates for any period, not more than fourteen years. Any property upon which rates are due for more than six months is liable to bo thus dealt with. The new Act is, we think, far more suitable and quite as effectual for the object sought to he attained, and we have no doubt but it will be utilised in this district, in which every Road Board which has struck a rate has a long list of defaulters.

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The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 1880. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 52, 24 January 1880

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