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Government of Western Samoa Report of the Commission to Inquire into and Report upon the Organization of District and Village Government in Western Samoa

(ii) The Work of the Board

(ii) The Work of the Board

41. During its first few years the Board would have much of its time taken up in consideration of proposals brought forward by districts and villages for the recognition of various types of local authorities. Such proposals would be drawn up by the district or village concerned, in consultation with the Secretary to the Board. Representatives of the district or village would present the proposals to the Board. They would be carefully examined, in the light of certain general principles which will be set forth in the succeeding sections of this report, and to ensure that they were in conformity with the law. After the making of any agreed amendments, the proposals would become the subject of a recommendation to the High Commissioner. The Board would advise the High Commissioner whether, in its opinion, the stage had been reached when a legally recognized district or village authority should be brought into being by Proclamation, in accordance with the proposals, or whether further study of the situation was necessary.

42. When legally recognized institutions of district and village government had come into existence in most parts of Samoa, consideration of constitutional matters would occupy much less of the Board's time. Such matters would, however, remain important. It is to be expected that experience and changing conditions will make it desirable for amendments to be made in the structure and powers of many authorities. Such proposals for amendment should come before the Board in the same manner as proposals for the original establishment of a local authority.

43. A second function of the Board would be in relation to district and village regulations. In the interests both of the ali‘i and faipule and of the Government, it would be necessary to ensure that regulations which were to possess legal standing were in accordance with the law and with the conception of justice which rules in the Courts. Otherwise, the Courts would not be able, in practice, to enforce them. The simplest method of ensuring this would be to require that each authority which had been given the legal power to make regulations should submit them to the Board in writing. The Board would examine them and, unless they conflicted with the law or with justice, would then formally confirm them. To assist in this work, the Board would probably find it advantageous to draft a set of rules defining the general character which regulations on specific subjects should possess. Such rules would not be intended to impose a rigid uniformity on the regulations made by different page 18 district and village authorities, but they would serve as a general guide to the Board in considering draft regulations submitted. They would, for example, at once make it apparent when a grossly excessive penalty was being suggested for a minor offence. With the assistance of some such rules, the Board should be able to handle the examination of regulations with speed and efficiency. Except when very unusual problems arose, it should not be necessary for the High Commissioner or the Hon. Fautua to be present at meetings at which these matters were being considered.

44. A third function of the Board would be that of advising the Government on requests for financial and other assistance from district and village authorities. In such matters the Board would have to be careful not to offer advice on purely technical aspects of any project under discussion. Such advice would continue to be supplied by the Government Department most closely concerned. For example, a request for financial aid in connection with the construction or extension of a water-supply would be examined from the technical point of view by the Public Works Department. The Board would offer advice on such a proposal, or any similar one, from the administrative angle. From its intimate and continuous contact with the ali‘i and faipule of every district, it would be able to suggest the way in which Government assistance might most usefully be given.

45. In complementary fashion, the Board should be prepared to give advice, through its Secretary, to district and village authorities on the best methods of controlling their finances, keeping their records, and so on. It should also consider the preparation and distribution of standard types of account books, books for the recording of regulations, and registers for the recording of judicial decisions. The development of a standardized system of records should considerably simplify the work of district and village officials, auditors and other Government officers concerned, and the Board itself.

46. A further function which the Board should exercise would be that of arranging instruction for various district and village officials. The Commission is recommending, in a later section of this report, that clerks be appointed to assist pulenu‘u and, in some cases, other officials. These clerks should receive proper instruction before taking up their appointments. It would be the responsibility of the Board to plan suitable courses of instruction and to ensure that the necessary arrangements were made with the Education Department and others concerned. In addition to organizing such formal courses, the Board should take the steps necessary to encourage the spread of information of use to the ali‘i and faipule, and to the people generally, in the management of local affairs. Work of-this kind would extend from the direct preparation and distribution of pamphlets on administrative methods to the making page 19 of requests to individuals or Government Departments that they should prepare broadcast talks on important matters or visit a particular district to give advice on some difficult problem.

47. By carrying out these duties, and others which would inevitably be added in the light of experience, the District and Village Government Board would be providing an effective link between the Central Government and the ali‘i and faipule and thus ensuring the orderly development of district and village government in Samoa.