Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929

Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929

Long title An Act to transfer to county councils and to the town councils of certain burghs in Scotland functions of existing local authorities relating to poor relief, lunacy and mental deficiency, education, public health, and other matters; to amend the law relating to local government in Scotland; to extend the application of the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Act, 1928, to lands and heritages in which no persons are employed, to net and cruive salmon fishings and to minerals let but unworked; to grant relief from rates in the case of the lands and heritages in Scotland to which that Act applies; to discontinue grants from the Exchequer for certain purposes in Scotland and to provide other grants in lieu thereof; and for purposes consequential on the matters aforesaid.
Citation 19 & 20 Geo. 5 c. 25
Territorial extent Scotland
Royal assent 10 May 1929
Commencement 16 May 1930
Other legislation
Repealed by Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947
Status: Repealed

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo 5 c. 25) reorganised local government in Scotland from 1930, introducing joint county councils, large and small burghs and district councils. The Act also abolished the Scottish poor law system with institutions passing to the local authorities.

The Act was drafted by Walter Elliot, the Unionist (Conservative) politician who became later (1936) Secretary of State for Scotland.[1]

Abolition of parish councils

The parish councils that had been introduced by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894 were dissolved. Their responsibilities regarding poor law passed to the county council, other powers passing to the new district councils.[2][3]

Abolition of Commissioners of Supply and Education Authorities

Commissioners of Supply had been established for each county in 1662, but had lost most of their powers to the county councils formed in 1890. Their remaining powers were to form part of a standing joint committee which acted as the police authority for the county. The 1929 Act dissolved the standing committees and the commissioners ceased to exist.[4]

The county and city education authorities that had been formed in 1919 were also abolished, with their functions and powers passing to the counties and counties of cities.[5]

Large burghs and small burghs

A number of burghs (generally those with a population of 20,000 or more) became "large burghs". Most of the powers previously exercised by the county council in their area were transferred to the town council of the burgh.[6]

The remaining burghs were to be known as "small burghs". In their case many of their powers now passed to the county council.[7]

The Act did not contain a list of large and small burghs. They were eventually listed in the schedule to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947.

United burghs

The Act united a number of adjacent burghs under a single town council (listed in Schedule 2):[8]

Where any of the merging towns was a royal burgh this status was to be continued in the united burgh.

Combined counties and joint county councils

For most local government purposes the counties of Kinross and Perth, and of Nairn and Moray were to be combined.[9] The counties were to continue to exist, with individual county councils being elected, but they were to form a joint county council. The joint council was, however, permitted to delegate functions to either of the individual county councils.[10]

Reconstituted county councils

With the redistribution of powers between counties, large burghs and small burghs the method of electing the county council was changed.[11]

The council was to be partly directly elected and partly chosen by the town councils of large burghs. Each large burgh was to nominate one (or more depending on population) members of the town council to the county council. The rest of the county was divided into electoral divisions (consisting of landward parishes) and small burghs, each returning single members.

The reconstituted county councils were elected in November and December 1929.

District councils

The reconstituted county councils were obliged to submit a district council scheme to the Secretary of State for Scotland by 1 February 1930, dividing the lanndward part of the county into districts.[12] The original bill had not included district councils, with the county council assuming all powers outside burghs. The intermediate level of administration was introduced following backbench pressure.[1]

Each district was to consist of one or more electoral divisions used for electing county councillors. The scheme specified the number of elected councillors.[12] The county councillors elected for the division were to be ex officio members of the district council. The first elections of district councillors took place on 8 April 1930.

It was not required for districts to be formed in Kinross-shire and Nairnshire unless the joint county council so directed.[13] In the event, a district council was formed for the landward part of Nairnshire, but Kinross-shire county council performed the functions of a district council.

Poor law

Another major effect of the Act was the ending of the Poor Law system, which had largely been administered by the parish councils. Their responsibilities in this area – now known as "Public Assistance" – passed to the county councils, large burghs and counties of cities.[14]

Counties of cities

The four royal burghs that were counties of cities were largely unaffected by the Act, except that they assumed responsibility for public assistance and education.

Services provided by the councils

Following the reorganisations of 1929 and 1930 the different tiers of Scottish local government were responsible for the following major services:

Type of Local Authority Services
County of City Police, Education, Public Health, Public Assistance, Housing, Lighting, Drainage
County Council Police, Education, Public Health ‡, Public Assistance ‡
Large Burgh Police †, Public Health, Public Assistance, Housing, Lighting, Drainage
Small Burgh Housing, Lighting, Drainage
District Council Housing, Lighting, Drainage

‡ Outside large burghs † Where the burgh had a population of 50,000 or more, or had a separate police force in existence.[15]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Scottish Local Government". The Times. London. 4 February 1929. p. 12.
  2. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, s. 1
  3. "Amending The Bill". The Times. London. 19 January 1929. p. 13.
  4. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.2
  5. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.3(1)
  6. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.4
  7. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.2(b)
  8. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, Sch.2
  9. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.10(7)
  10. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.10(7)(f)
  11. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.8
  12. 1 2 Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.25(1)
  13. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.25(5)
  14. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.12
  15. Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, S.3(3)
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