University of Leicester
2015MorrisRJBPHD.pdf (1.83 MB)

Local government, local legislation: municipal initiative in parliament from 1858 to 1872

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posted on 2015-03-10, 16:38 authored by Roger John Bowring Morris
The years between the first Local Government Act 1858 and the establishment of the Local Government Board in 1872 saw great changes in England and Wales: growing populations brought growing problems in crowded living conditions, but there were also increasing wealth, manufacturing and intellectual resources in a context of major international influence and self-confidence, and rapidly expanding countrywide infrastructure. Against this backdrop, the municipal authorities of this period had few general law powers to regulate local conditions, or to provide services. While Parliament was still – at least at the outset – broadly antagonistic to centralisation and the enactment of common standards, it was willing to grant private Acts – special local Act powers – to those places that sought, and could justify and pay for, the means to improve and invest in their localities. This thesis identifies and analyses for the first time the 335 local Parliamentary Bills, and from them the 278 resulting Acts, that municipalities promoted in the years 1858 to 1872 inclusive. Three things stand out from the huge mass of local statute-book material which these 278 Acts comprise – themselves only a small fraction of the total of private Acts passed in the era of railway mania, and of much else besides. The first is that, far from being an unco-ordinated mass of inconsistent, quixotic provisions as private Acts are sometimes thought or assumed to be, these Acts have a substantial degree of cohesion as a body of material. Secondly, the towns and cities of northern England secured more than half of them. Thirdly, the costs of promotions (and the vested interests involved in them) represented a huge and often wasteful outlay that a more pragmatic and forwardlooking Parliamentary attitude could have greatly reduced. These and other matters are examined in detail across the whole spectrum of local legislation for the first time. There are no acknowledgements requiring to be listed.



King, Steven; Snell, Keith

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Author affiliation

School of Management

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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