The Info List - Local Government Act 1888

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The Local Government Act 1888
Local Government Act 1888
(51 & 52 Vict. c.41) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which established county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales. It came into effect on 1 April 1889, except for the County of London, which came into existence on 21 March at the request of the London County Council.[1]


1 The Bill 2 Passage through Parliament 3 County councils

3.1 Powers

4 Standing joint committees 5 Counties for other purposes 6 Other provisions 7 List of administrative counties and county boroughs created in 1889

7.1 England 7.2 Wales

8 Towns on county boundaries 9 See also 10 References 11 Sources 12 External links

The Bill[edit] Following the 1886 general election, a Conservative administration headed by Lord Salisbury was formed. However the Conservatives did not have a majority of seats and had to rely on the support of the Liberal Unionist Party. As part of the price for this support the Liberal Unionists demanded that a bill be introduced placing county government under the control of elected councils, modelled on the borough councils introduced by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.[2] Accordingly, the Local Government (England and Wales) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 19 March 1888, by the President of the Local Government Board, Charles Ritchie. The Bill proposed the creation of elected county councils to take over the administrative functions of the magistrates of the Quarter Sessions courts, that ten large cities should be "counties of themselves" for the purposes of local government and that each county was to be divided into urban and rural districts, based on existing sanitary districts, governed by a district council. The county and district councils were to consist partly of directly elected "elective councillors" and partly of "selected councillors", chosen by the elective councillors in a similar manner to aldermen in municipal boroughs. The counties to be used for local government were to be the historic counties of England and Wales. A county council was to be formed for each of the ridings of Yorkshire
and the three divisions of Lincolnshire
(Holland, Kesteven and Lindsey). In addition a new County of London was to be formed from the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works. This would have led to the creation of fifty-seven county councils. The boundaries of the counties were to be those used for parliamentary purposes, adjusted to include urban sanitary districts on county borders within a single county. The ten cities to be "dealt with as separate counties" were Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Bradford, Nottingham, Kingston-on-Hull, and Newcastle upon Tyne. Existing urban and rural sanitary districts, created in 1872, were to be redesignated as urban and rural districts. Urban districts that lay across county boundaries were to be included in the county with the greater part of the population in the 1881 census. Existing rural sanitary districts were to split on county lines to form rural districts. Passage through Parliament[edit] There were a large number of changes to the Bill as it passed through parliament. The terms administrative county and county borough were introduced to designate the new areas of local government, while the "selected councillors" became "county aldermen". The government withdrew the sections relating to the creation of district councils, which were eventually brought into existence by the Local Government Act 1894. Members of both houses made representations on behalf of counties and boroughs, and this led to an increase in the number of local authorities.

The eastern and western divisions of Sussex
became administrative counties[3] The Isle of Ely
Isle of Ely
was separated from Cambridgeshire[4] The eastern and western divisions of Suffolk
were divided for local government purposes.[5] The Soke of Peterborough
Soke of Peterborough
was separated from the remainder of Northamptonshire.[6]

Attempts to create administrative counties for the Cinque Ports
Cinque Ports
and Staffordshire Potteries
Staffordshire Potteries
were not successful. The population limit for county boroughs was lowered twice, firstly to 100,000, then to 50,000. A number of smaller counties corporate were also given county borough status. Mr Ritchie conceded on 8 June:

"Now that they had gone down so far in population as 50,000 there arose a question as to the admission of boroughs which had not so large a population as 50,000, but which had very peculiar claims. He referred to the counties of cities. [...] Two or three of these cities had so small a population that he did not propose to deal with them in this way. The best course was to give the names of the cities which he proposed to include. They were Exeter, Lincoln, Chester, Gloucester, Worcester, and Canterbury."

The effect of these changes was to increase the number of county boroughs from ten to fifty-nine. With a population of around 50,000 at the 1881 census, the City of London
City of London
was initially proposed for county borough status.[7] County councils[edit] The councils were subject to triennial elections, the first taking place in January 1889. The county councils elected in 1889 were known as "provisional" councils until coming into their powers on 1 April. Every administrative county was divided into electoral divisions, each returning a single councillor. Following the election, the county councillors then elected county aldermen, there being one alderman for every three councillors. The London County Council
London County Council
had a different constitution, with two councillors elected for each parliamentary constituency in the county, and a ratio of one alderman to six councillors. The councillors appointed a chairman and vice chairman, who had a one-year term of office, although they could be reappointed. Powers[edit] The powers and responsibilities transferred from the quarter sessions to the councils were enumerated in the Act. These included:

Making and levying of rates Borrowing of money Passing of county accounts Maintenance and construction of county buildings such as shire halls, county halls, court houses and police stations Licensing of places of entertainment and of race courses Provisions of asylums for pauper lunatics Establishment and maintenance of reformatory and industrial schools Repair of county roads and bridges† Appointment, dismissal and setting of salaries for county officers Division of the county into polling places for parliamentary elections, and the provision of polling stations Control of contagious diseases in animals, and of destructive insects Fish conservancy and control of wild birds Weights and measures

† The council could also declare a road a "main road" and take over its maintenance, and purchase existing bridges or build new ones. County borough
County borough
corporations also exercised these powers, in addition to those of a municipal borough. Standing joint committees[edit] Control of the county police was to be exercised jointly by the quarter sessions and the county council through a standing joint committee. The committees were replaced by police authorities by the Police Act 1964. Counties for other purposes[edit] The Act also ensured that the boundaries used for what it terms "non-administrative purposes" would be synchronised with the borders between the administrative counties. The non-administrative purposes were stated to be "sheriff, lieutenant, custos rotulorum, justices, militia, coroner, or other",[8] thus approximating to the functions of modern ceremonial counties. The counties of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Sussex
and Yorkshire
were undivided so far as they were one county at the passing of the Act.[9] The three ridings of Yorkshire and the three parts of Lincolnshire
therefore retained their status. County boroughs were to be administrative counties of themselves.[10] The Act provided that each county borough that had previously been part of a county (i.e., was not a county corporate) should continue to be part of that county for non-administrative purposes.[10] If a county borough did not have a separate commission of assize, oyer and terminer and jury service, or gaol delivery, it was deemed to be part of one or more adjoining counties for those purposes.[10] The Act also provided for certain financial adjustments between county boroughs and adjoining counties.[11] The Act did not in terms affect the status of cities and towns which were counties corporate. Most of the counties corporate became county boroughs and therefore administrative counties of themselves, but while other county boroughs continued to be part of their existing counties for all other purposes, that did not apply to existing counties corporate.[10] Those that did not become county boroughs became part of adjacent administrative counties but retained their existing lieutenancies and shrievalties.[12] Other provisions[edit] Under section 48 of the Act all liberties and franchises, with the exception of those that became separate administrative counties, merged with the county they formed part of for parliamentary elections. The Cinque Ports, together with "the two ancient towns and their members" (which for some purposes, such as lieutenancy, were considered a distinct county), were to become part of the county where they were situated. Section 49 allowed for the creation by provisional order of a council for the "Scilly Islands" to be established as a unitary authority outside the administrative county of Cornwall. This was duly formed in 1890 as the Isles of Scilly Rural District. List of administrative counties and county boroughs created in 1889[edit] England[edit]

Geographical county Administrative county County boroughs

Bedfordshire Bedfordshire

Berkshire Berkshire Reading

Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire

Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire

Isle of Ely

Cheshire Cheshire Birkenhead, Chester, Stockport

Cornwall Cornwall

Cumberland Cumberland Carlisle

Derbyshire Derbyshire Derby

Devon Devon Devonport, Exeter, Plymouth

Dorset Dorset

Durham Durham Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland

Essex Essex West Ham

Gloucestershire Gloucestershire Bristol
(part), Gloucester

Hampshire Hampshire
† Portsmouth, Southampton

Herefordshire Herefordshire

Hertfordshire Hertfordshire

Huntingdonshire Huntingdonshire

Kent Kent Canterbury

Lancashire Lancashire Barrow, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle
cum Linacre, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, St Helens, Salford, Stockport
(part), Wigan

Leicestershire Leicestershire Leicester

Lincolnshire Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland

Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven

Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Lincoln

London London City of London: remained a separate county, but returned members to the London County Council, which exercised some powers within the City.

Middlesex Middlesex

Monmouthshire Monmouthshire Newport‡

Norfolk Norfolk Norwich, Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth

Northamptonshire Northamptonshire Northampton

Soke of Peterborough

Northumberland Northumberland Newcastle upon Tyne

Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire Nottingham

Oxfordshire Oxfordshire Oxford

Rutland Rutland

Shropshire Shropshire

Somerset Somerset Bath, Bristol

Staffordshire Staffordshire Hanley, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton

Suffolk East Suffolk Ipswich, Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth

West Suffolk

Surrey Surrey Croydon

Sussex East Sussex Brighton, Hastings

West Sussex

Warwickshire Warwickshire Birmingham, Coventry

Westmorland Westmorland

Wiltshire Wiltshire

Worcestershire Worcestershire Dudley, Worcester

Yorkshire Yorkshire, East Riding Kingston-upon-Hull, York

Yorkshire, North Riding Middlesbrough, York

Yorkshire, West Riding Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Sheffield, York

† From 1 April 1890 the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
was separated from the County of Hampshire
to form an administrative county.[13] †† From 1890 the Scilly Isles
Scilly Isles
were separated from the County of Cornwall
for administrative purposes ‡ Newport became a county borough in 1891 Wales[edit]

Geographic county Administrative county County boroughs

Anglesey Anglesey

Brecknockshire Brecknockshire

Carnarvonshire Carnarvonshire

Cardiganshire Cardiganshire

Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire

Denbighshire Denbighshire

Flintshire Flintshire

Glamorgan Glamorgan Cardiff, Swansea

Merioneth Merioneth

Montgomeryshire Montgomeryshire

Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire

Radnorshire Radnorshire

Towns on county boundaries[edit] A number of urban sanitary districts lay in more than one county. In each case, county boundaries were altered so that each town lay entirely within the administrative county that contained the largest part of the district's population in the 1881 census.[14][15][16]

Counties until 1889 Urban Sanitary District Administrative county
Administrative county
or county borough from 1889

and Oxfordshire Oxford County Borough of Oxford

Breconshire and Glamorgan Merthyr Tydfil Glamorgan

Breconshire and Monmouthshire Ebbw Vale Monmouthshire

Tredegar Monmouthshire

Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire Cardigan Cardiganshire

and Suffolk Newmarket West Suffolk

and Derbyshire New Mills Derbyshire

and Lancashire Hyde Cheshire

Stalybridge Cheshire

Stockport County Borough of Stockport

Warrington Lancashire

Cheshire, Lancashire
and Yorkshire, West Riding Mossley Lancashire

and Staffordshire Burton upon Trent Staffordshire

Durham and Yorkshire, North Riding Barnard Castle Durham

South Stockton Yorkshire, North Riding

Stockton-on-Tees Durham

and Suffolk Sudbury West Suffolk

and Somerset Bristol County Borough of Bristol

and Middlesex East Barnet Valley Hertfordshire

Barnet Hertfordshire

and Sussex Tunbridge Wells Kent

and Yorkshire, West Riding Todmorden Yorkshire, West Riding

and Northamptonshire Market Harborough Leicestershire

and Warwickshire Hinckley Leicestershire

and Northamptonshire Stamford Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven

and Yorkshire, West Riding Crowle Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey

Goole Yorkshire, West Riding

and Suffolk Great Yarmouth County Borough of Great Yarmouth

Thetford Norfolk

and Oxfordshire Banbury Oxfordshire

and Huntingdonshire Peterborough Soke of Peterborough

and Warwickshire Tamworth Staffordshire

and Worcestershire Redditch Worcestershire

Yorkshire, East Riding and Yorkshire, North Riding Filey Yorkshire, East Riding

Malton Split in 1890 into two urban sanitary districts: Norton in Yorkshire, East Riding and Malton in Yorkshire, North Riding

See also[edit]

History of local government in England History of local government in Wales


^ Order of the President of the Local Government Board, 19 March 1889 (Printed in The Times, 21 March 1889) ^ B. Keith-Lucas, Government of the County in England, The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 1. (March 1956), pp. 44-55. ^ Amendment by Walter Barttelot, MP for Horsham, 13 July 1888 (The Times, 14 July 1888) ^ Amendment by Captain Selwyn, 13 July 1888 (The Times, 14 July 1888) ^ Amendment by Lord Bristol, 6 August 1888 (The Times, 7 August 1888) ^ Amendment by Lord Exeter, 6 August 1888 (The Times, 7 August 1888) ^ Davis, J., Reforming London, (1988) ^ Section 59 ^ Section 59(a) ^ a b c d Section 31 ^ Section 32 ^ Section 59(b) ^ Local Government Board's Provisional Order Confirmation (No.2) Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. C.clxxvii) ^ "Urban Sanitary Authorities". The County Companion Diary, Statistical Chronicle and Magisterial and Official Directory. London: Waterlow & Sons Ltd. 1882. p. vii.  ^ Youngs, Frederic A, Jr. (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. pp. 556–707. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.  ^ Youngs, Frederic A, Jr. (1991). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.2: Northern England. London: Royal Historical Society. pp. 635–794. ISBN 0-86193-127-0. 


The Local Government Act 1888, 51 & 52 Vict. c. 41

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