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THE principal Acts contained in this volume, and which form the basis of the present work, are the 18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, for the better Local Management of the Metropolis, and the three Amending Acts, the 19 & 20 Vict. c. 112, the 21 & 22 Vict. c. 104, and the 25 & 26 Vict. c. 102; and other statutes either expressly incorporated with the first-named Act, or having special reference to the powers and duties of the boards and vestries constituted by it, are added by way of Appendix. The object of this publication is to elucidate the construction of those Acts, for which purpose the reported decisions of the courts upon such of their provisions as have received judicial interpretation, and upon analogous enactments in other statutes, are collected in the notes. Attention is also directed to those provisions of the original Act which. experience had shown to be defective, and to the amendments embodied in the Acts which were subsequently passed. It may well be supposed that an Act of Parliament which gave a municipal organization to the extensive districts described in its schedules, with a rental at the time of its passing (exclusive of the city) amounting to 9,011,2207., and a population of 2,233,108 souls, did not remain exempt from the ordinary litigation attending extensive legislative changes. But to understand the causes which led to the passing of that important measure, and to appreciate its results, it will be desirable, in the first instance, to make some reference to the laws under which the management of the metropolitan districts as regards
their sewerage and paving, their improvements, and other subjects of local administration, had previously been conducted.
The limits of the metropolis, as defined by that Act, include the City of London, and the several parishes and places enumerated in the first three schedules appended to it; and the definition of the City of London is that given by the City Sewers Act, the 11 & 12 Vict. c. 163. The city and liberties of London consist of the city within the walls and without the walls, containing together an area of about 723 acres. Commissions of sewers were issued to the civic authorities from an early period. It is recorded that a commission was, on the complaint of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, directed to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London in the thirty-fifth year of Edward I., requiring them to scour and clear the River Fleet (a). The 19 Car. 2, c. 3, for rebuilding the City of London after the Great Fire, vested in the Common Council certain duties relating to sewerage, and empowered that body to appoint persons under the common seal of the Corporation to design and set out sewers, drains, and vaults within the city and liberties. Other Acts were subsequently passed relating to the sewers of the city, viz., the 11 Geo. 3, c. 29, the 33 Geo. 3, c. 75, and the 4 Geo. 4, c. 114. Those Acts, which contained provisions for paving, lighting, and cleansing, and for preventing and removing obstructions and annoyances, were repealed by the above-mentioned Act, the 11 & 12 Vict. c. 163, which has since been amended and extended by the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 91. It is under those Acts that the City Commissioners of Sewers now
(a) See "Law of Sewers," by Serj. Woolrych, 2nd ed. p. 2.
exercise their powers. By the 7th section, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons are empowered from time to time to appoint by deed under their common seal such persons as they shall think fit for carrying the Act into execution. Under it the sole power of making, repairing, and altering sewers, drains, and vaults, and of paving, lighting, cleansing, and improving the streets within the city, as defined by the Act, is vested in the Mayor and Commonalty, and Citizens of London, to be executed by Commissioners to be nominated and appointed by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons, in Common Council assembled, under the common seal. This Act came into operation on the 1st January, 1849, and the clause limiting its continuance to two years, and thence to the end of the then next Session of Parliament, was repealed by the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 91. The sole power conferred by it, of making and maintaining sewers within the city to the Corporation, to be exercised in the manner described, must now be regarded as subject to the alteration introduced by the 18 & 19 Vict. c. 120, by which main sewers have become vested in the Metropolitan Board of Works. Various powers for the regulation of streets and prevention of nuisances are contained in the City Police Act, 2 & 3 Vict. c. 94. The Corporation also, from an early period, made ordinances embodying regulations with respect to building, and legislative provision was made on the same subject in the Act 19 Car. 2, c. 3, and in subsequent statutes. The present Metropolitan Building Act is the 18 & 19 Vict. c. 122, but certain provisions of the former statutes, 14 Geo. 3, c. 78, and 7 & 8 Vict. c. 84, are still unrepealed (b).
(b) See the Act 18 & 19 Vict. c. 122, post, in the Appendix. b
Important administrative functions affecting riverside property were also exercised by the Corporation of London, in connection with the Conservancy of the River Thames. The Lord Mayor was by an ancient grant from the Crown Conservator of the Thames, within the Port of London (a), and the Corporation claimed to be entitled to exercise rights of ownership over the bed and soil of the river. This claim, which was contested by the Crown, became the subject of a suit in Chancery, instituted by the Attorney-General against the Corporation for the purpose of determining the rights of that body and of the Crown in relation to the bed and soil of the river, and its shores within the flux and reflux of the tide. The suit was brought to a close by an agreement made in the year 1856, by virtue of which, and of another agreement of the 24th February, 1857, a grant of the estate and interest of the Crown was made to the Corporation, in consideration of their paying annually to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests one-third of the monies, rents, and proceeds which they might receive in respect of sales, leases, grants, or licences for docks, piers, &c., in or upon the bed of the river, or of encroachments, embankments, or inclosures, on or near to it, and of their applying the residue to the improvement of the navigation. That portion of the bed of the river situate in front of lands, &c. belonging to the Crown, or which were the property or in the possession of any Government department, was excepted from the grant. The Thames Conservancy Act, the 20 & 21 Vict. c. 147, gave effect to this arrangement, and vested in the Conservators appointed by virtue of its provisions all the estate of
(a) Between Staines in Middlesex, and Yuntleet in Kent.
the Corporation and of the Crown in the bed and soil of the river, except the portion referred to above reserved to the Crown, and transferred to the same body all such powers and authorities as were theretofore vested in the Crown or Corporation in relation to the conservancy of the river. The Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers, acting under the 11 & 12 Vict. c. 112, considered that that Act empowered them to execute works on the bed and foreshore of the Thames, without obtaining the permission of the Thames Navigation Committee, the body charged with the exercise of the chief powers of the Corporation, relating to the conservancy of the river, and when they required to execute such works they did not apply for leave, but merely gave notice to the Committee of their intention to commence them. The Committee, however, claimed the right of giving or withholding permission, and required that the works should be executed under the supervision of the water bailiff, one of their officers; and there is little doubt that their permission was necessary before any such works could be executed. At present the previous approval of the conservators is clearly requisite before any works on the bed or foreshore, which may affect the navigation, can be carried out, and in a recent case (b) the want of such approval was held to render the proceeding a wrongful one. The Thames Embankment Act, 25 & 26 Vict. c. 93, contains special provisions respecting works on the foreshore, which, however, only apply to that undertaking. As regards its internal government, the administration of local matters within the city of London has for a con
(b) Brownlow v. Metropolitan Board of Works, vol. 31, L. J. (N. S.) Q. B. p. 140.