Imperial subventions towards services administered by local authorities in England and Wales

Holden, Charles Garrett (1925). Imperial subventions towards services administered by local authorities in England and Wales. University of Birmingham. Other

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In the realm of Local Government there is probably no question of such importance or of so controversial a nature as that of the relationship which should exist between the central Government and the Local Authorities whose actions it at present so largely controls.
On this subject opinions range, with infinite variations, from the attitude of almost complete independence which is new maintained only by the City of London to the subservience exhibited by certain minor Authorities which appeal to some Government Department on every point that arises and which receive with undisguised welcome each new method of supervision and control. Between these extremes there exists a great body of local administrators, which, without denying the ideal of independence, is concerned for the Government to assist in bearing what it considers to be national burdens, and which therefore presses for State aid of various services administered by Local Authorities throughout the Country.
Pressure exerted from this source would however probably meet with little success were it not that the system of grants in aid possesses considerable advantages from the point of view of the central Government· Indeed, the advantages may be so pronounced as to cause the Government to take the initiative and offer a grant towards expenditure on a certain service administered by Local Authorities» in order to secure some measure of supervision or control. Though the standard of some services may well be left to local enterprise or indifference, certain others, partaking of a national character, require co-ordination by a central Department in order to secure a general measure of uniformity and adherence at least to a minimum standard of efficiency and utility. Grants have also been proposed by Parliament when introducing legislation which places further duties or responsibilities on Local Authorities as some softening of the burden which is being added to their shoulders, or possibly as some earnest of the Government’s interest in, and responsibility for, the subject of the legislation.
Imperial subventions thus possess the useful characteristic of appealing, from different motives, to both giver and recipient, so that it is not surprising that they should figure prominently in the multifarious legislation affecting Local Authorities which has found its way to the statute book since the great reforms which were effected by the newly-constituted Parliaments brought into being by the Reform Act of 1838. From the date of the first subventions till the present time however, there has burned with varying fierceness a flame of controversy about the whole subject, as to the services which should be aided by the State, but more particularly as to the manner in which the amounts of the grants are to be determined, and the bases on which the allocations are to be made.
The problem thus presented is capable of no immediate and final solution, but demands careful consideration from many points of view, and, as is the case with most constitutional questions, must be approached first from the historical side in order to view the question in its correct perspective. This is all the more necessary in the present case, as the enactments of subsequent Parliaments have created a situation of extreme complication, the actual details of which can only be retained mentally by those whose duty it is to execute the requirements of the statutes; an historical survey is therefore the surest method of obtaining a reliable understanding of the present position, without which any suggestions of reform must necessarily be valueless.

Type of Work: Thesis (Other)
Award Type: Other
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Commerce and Social Sciences
School or Department: Faculty of Commerce
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government


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