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LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM., Issue 10461, 3 November 1897
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM.
*~ . THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION BILL. AN IMPORTANT MEASURE. [From Our Parliamentary Reporter.] WELLINGTON, November 3. The Municipal Corporation Bill, introduced to the House to-day by Message from the Governor, ia a comprehensive measure, eontaining 468 clauses and fifteen sohedules. Theoljiotofxhe Bill, as explained in the document prefixed to it, is to consolidate and amend the laws relating to boroughs and borough councils. The qualification for a borough is defined to he *.\an area of not more than nine square miles! having no pdats distant more than six miles from one another, and having a population not less than 1,000." Existing boroughs that do not possess the necessary qualification are given an opportunity of obtaining it by an extension of boundaries, or otherwise before the Act comes into operation, otherwise they will become subdivisions of the county in which they are situated. The franchise for the election of mayors and councillors is proposed to be enlarged so as to extend to "any householder under any tenancy whatever who for twelve months has continuously been a householder in any part of the .borough." Elections are to be conducted in accordance generally with the provisions applicable to the election ol members of the House of Representatives. There is to be a general election of councillors every two years. In cases of voting on Bpecial loans, a ratepayers' roll iB to be provided, giving one vote in respect to ratable property of the annual ratable value of £5 or of the capital value of £IOO, and two votes above that value.. With a view to embodying, as far as possible, all legislation affecting boroughs in one Bill, the present measure includes the various provisions ot the Pub'ic Works, Public Health, and other Acta affecting boroughs, thirtyone Acts being wholly or in part repealed by this Bill. As regards river and diairiage districts, provision is made for boroughs becoming parts of special districts under the Local Government Bill, should that measure pass. This -Bill, further provides casting upon boroughs the upkeep of hospitals and the administration of charitable aid, with the help of Government subsidies; bub these provisions are contingent upon the passing of the Local Authorities Bill or some other measure dealing with the whole question of charitable aid. In addition to the powers already possessed by borough councils, the Bill materially enlarges the- power of councils in relation, to drainage and aanitat:on, and giveß power to them to provide workers' dwellings and to prevent the overcrowding of laud with houses and the overerowdiug of houses with inhabitants." Very wide ani comprehensive powers are given as to the validity, testing, and enforcing of bylaws, and many matters of detail are left to be provided by regulations to be mide by the Governor-in-Council. Section 98 provides that each borough shall receive annually out of the Consolidated Fund a grant equal to 43 per head of the population. Special rates may be levied for hospitals aud charitable aid, payable by the occupiers of the premises, w ho shall deduct one-half of the same from the rent payable to the landlord. Section 204 authorises the borough council to get workß done oa the co-operative sjstem, to any value or amount, without calling for public tenders, or to carry out any works itself without the intervention of a contractor. The council, in such cases, must keep a list showing the rates of wages and hours of labor to be paid and observed on such works- such lists to be based on the rates and hours prevailing generally in the particular trade or clbes of labor. By section 333 boroagh councils are empowered to provide electric lighting for' streets and dwellings. The sections dealing with overcrowding are very long and comprehensive. Councils are empowered to purchase any portions of a borough which have become overcrowded or fallen into an insanitary condition; to pull down 1 or alter buildings ;-to abolish private streets, and to lay out new streets or open spaces. Persons erecting houses have to leave an open'space of not lesa than 150 square feet exclusively belonging to such house and having no erection whatever on it. The councils are to examine and classify all houses in boroughs, and to prepare a list showing the. situation of each dwelling-house, the cubic space in each room, and the maximum number of persons who. may ■ , sleep or live therein. This is to apply to hotels and lodging-houses as well as to private residences, and any breach of the Act in this respect is punishable by a fine of 40s for each day that the breach continues. The provisions with respect to charitable aid provide fori the' distribution; of'outdoor relief and also for the reception of applicants in homes for the aged and needy, in homes for
the ihea'ra-bles, in hotties'f of deserted children, and other provisions regarding Vworkefa' dwellings empower the Counrilvto purchase land inside or outside of boroughs >"tp-erect hbuses and furnish the same; either as separate dwellings or lodging-houses; and to rent the same to tenants or boarders. These dwellings or lojging-houses are to be managed and controlled by the corporation. The Bill is carefully prepared and well arranged, and, generally speaking, it revises, extends, and makes clearer the existing law as to munioi'pal.corporations. • -.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM., Issue 10461, 3 November 1897
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