Local Government in Scotland

Publication Date01 January 1939
Date01 January 1939
AuthorGavin Bell
DOI10.1177/0032258X3901200104
SubjectArticle
Local Government in Scotland
By
GAVIN
BELL
Depute
County
Clerk of Midlothian
WHEREVER there is a community of individuals they
usually adopt some form of government for their security
and comfort. Such government is not peculiar to man alone
but
is apparent even in lower forms of life. Particularly in
some insect colonies their scheme of local government seems
to be exceedingly efficient, whereas
the
schemes evolved by
man are often
the
subject of adverse criticism.
But
man's
order of life is always changing in his constant endeavour to
advance civilisation. Consequently his scheme of government
is ever being altered to comply with those changes.
Local Government is frequently accused of being slow
and cumbrous.
It
is certainly complex, because it is framed to
deal with detail.
The
course which Local Government has taken through
the centuries is not like that of a speed boat driving straight
to an ultimate objective,
but
rather like
that
of the old sailing
ship which has to
turn
and tack as the vagaries of the wind
compel her.
The
long
but
progressive course of Scottish Local Govern-
ment is marked by over 350 Acts of Parliament which affect
Local Authorities in Scotland. Many of those Acts, especially
the
more modern, empower Government Departments and
Local Authorities to make Regulations and Bye-Laws. Those
in
turn
are numerous. Yet anyone who contravenes an Act,
Regulation or Bye-Law is not entitled to plead in defence
that
he was unaware of the law.
The
majority of people take little interest in Local
Government work and when they require information on any
particular point they immediately consult someone who, they
think, should be conversant with
the
point on which they
36

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