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Family Notices






THE RIGHT OF THOSE WHO PAY THE PIPER, TO CALL THE TUNE. WE have never expressed or felt much ad- miration for that hybrid creation of the Local Government Act of 1888—the Standing Joint Committee. Its constitution is such that it is hopeless to expect real good ad ministration from it, however well-meaning and well-intentioned evary one of its mem- bers may be. It is composed as to one half of it, of members representing the Quarter Sessions, or, in other words, the magistrates, and the other half represents the County Council. The Denbighshire Standing Joint Committee, to the proceedings of which we wish to refer, is composed of twenty-four members, twelve representing the great unpaid,' and twelve representing the elected councillors of the county. In Wales, es- pecially, the majority of the magistrates, and the majority of the people, hold such divergent views, that the two sections of this committee are bound to be, to a more or less degree, antagonistic. As the law provides that the magistrates and the councillors should have an equal representa- tion on the committee, the majority of any side must be obtained either from the absence of a member from the one side or the other, when the chairman is elected, or upon luck, as demonstrated in the process of 'going to the hat.' For some time, the fortunes of war have favoured the magisterial element in the Denbighshire committee, a magistrate having been elected into the chair, and he, therefore, by his casting vote, can pretty well • rule the roast' provided all the mem- bers are faithful in their attendances. During the last twelve months, this com- mittee has been exercised over the question of providing better accommodation for justice at Llanrwst. That such accommo- dation is required there does not seem to be any doubt, but the question has arisen, as to the right of the Standing Joint Commit tee to invite tenders for the work, and open them, without first of all consulting the County Council, which is the body that must ultimately find the money. At a meeting of the Joint Committee, held in Denbigh on the 8th of July last, the question cropped up, and it was report- ed that a sub-committee had invited tenders for the work, and bad received three, and they recommended that the lowest, amount- ing to Y,709 be accepted. Mr. Lumley then raised the objection that the commit- tee had no right to ask for tenders. The committee, no doubt, could compel the county to carry out the work, but it was for the County Council to ask for tenders, and to accept a tender. He proposed that the plans, &c should be submitted to the County Council for their consideration, and also for their authority to obtain tenders. Mr. Lumley's motion was carried by a majority of one, and the plans were or. dered to be sent to the County Council. The resolution thus carried, was submit ted to a meeting of the County Council, held at Wrexham on July 29th. Mr. Lum- ley then proposed that the consideration of the plans, &c., be referred to a commit- tee, the members of which he named, and which included the chairman of the Stand- ing Joint Committee. The chairman re- fused to act, because-and for certain reasons to be disclosed hereafter, we quote his words fully-' in his opinion this was a matter that the Standing Joint Committee should have dealt with, and not refer it to the Council.' Mr. Lumley's motion was, however, carried, but the chairman of the Standing Joint Committee was not included in the elected committee. What became of this committee, we do not know. We are not sure if it ever met. What we are sure of is, that the Standing Joint Committee, at its meeting, held in Wrexham on the 14th of October, decided to have a case stated for the opinion of the High Court. The county councillors bad resolved that plans and specifications should be submitted for their approval, before tenders were advertised for. The Standing Joint Committee, on the-other band, or a certain section of it, was of opinion that no such interference by the paymaster-the County Council—should be tolerated. A case was drawn up and agreed to, after some alterations, by the members of the Joint Committee. In the framing of the case, the County Council was not consulted it was completely ig- nored. We now come to the history of the latter phases of the case. The late Clerk of the Peace, acting on the instructions of the Standing Joint Committee sent the prepared case up to his London agents for presenta- tion to the High Court. But the committee had not yet done with Mr. Lumley. He wrote a letter to the cierk, calling his at- tention to the fact that a special case must be agreed upon by the parties,' and that the'preserit lease. had not even been con- Ridered- much less agreed to—by the County Council. The clerk at once sent the letter to his London agents, and they, after perusing Mr. Lumley's letter, agreed that he was right, and that the case could not be presented, until the County Council agreed to it, or to the statement of facts it contained. The case was therefore sent back from London. ) This was the position of affairs when the Standing Joint Committee met at Denbigh on Friday, the 13th inst. The chairman of the comrni, tee-apparently much against bis will-wbla obliged to suggest that the case should now be presented to the County I Council. But he announced that he still j held to his original view that this dispute was a dispute between the two halves of the Standing Joint Committee, and not I between that committee and the County Council. How cau he possibly hold such a view, is to us inexplicable. We have already pointed out that the matter was I discussed at a meeting of the Coonty Coun- cil, that the chairman of the Joint Com- mittee took part in that discussion, and I that the Council assumed that they had a jj right to consider the plans and specifica- tions, by electing a committee to go through them. The chairman of the Standing Joint refused to act on the committee, be. cause he did not believe that the Council had a right to interfere in the matter. And yet he persists in believing that the dis- pute is not one with the Council! Into the merit of the dispute we do not wish to enter. We think it is high time an au thoritative pronouncement on the subject should be given. Of course, we do not believe that any committee should have the right to spend the ratepayers' money with- out the consent of the representatives of the ratepayers, but if such is the law, we must abide by it until it is changed. But there are very grave doubts as to the powers of the Standing Joint Committee, and the sooner the better these are set at rest. The magisterial members of the commit-, tee will not admit that there are any doubts at all in the matter, but even in the face of the statement of such an authority as Capt Cole, who said that he hoped they should never give up, but fight to the end, and that he was sure they were right,' we can- not rest satisfied, until even a greater than Captain Cole has spoken.


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