The central authorities, which as early as the 18th century worked together in a common mother cell of the State chancery, became differentiated so soon as the growing tasks of administration called for specialization; in 1869 there were seven departments, and in the concluding decade of the Austrian Empire there were set up Ministries of Labour, Food, Public Health and Social Care.
There is a concurrent power in the Local Government Board under the Public Health Act 1875, but that power is now rarely exercised, and new urban districts are in practice created only by orders of county councils made under the Local Government Act 1888, section 57.
When it is shown, therefore, that a highway has been dedicated after 1836, it is not repairable by the inhabitants at large unless it can be shown that these provisions have been complied with, or that it has been declared to be repairable under provisions of the Public Health Acts presently to be mentioned.
It is impossible to overestimate the value of Sir John Simon's work, or the importance of his influence in the furtherance of the public health and the prevention of disease, and in inculcating right methods of medical government.
The public health is good, and fevers and plague are unknown.
The provisions of the Public Health Acts relating to infectious disease are for the most part extended to ships by an act of the year 1885.
The Commissioners of Supply, originally appointed to apportion and collect the national revenue and afterwards entrusted with the regulation of the land tax, the control of the county police, the raising of the militia, and the levying of rates for county expenditure, were practically superseded by the county councils, which are also the local authority under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) and the Public Health Acts in all parishes (burghs and police burghs excepted), perform the administrative duties formerly entrusted to the justices of the peace, and may also enforce the Rivers Pollution Act each within its own jurisdiction.
By the Public Health Act of that year the whole country was mapped out into urban and rural sanitary districts, and that system has been maintained until the present time, with some important changes introduced by the Public Health Acts 1875 to 1907, and the Local Government Act 1894.
A department of public health was formed within the precincts of the Local Government Board; government laboratories were established, and machinery was devised for the notification of infectious diseases.
The ghastly roll of infantile mortality was quickly purged of its darkest features (Ballard and others); aided by bacteriology, sanitary measures attained some considerable degree of exactness; public medicine gained such an ascendancy that special training and diplomas were offered at universities; and in 1875 a consolidated act was passed for the United Kingdom establishing medical officers of health, and responsible lay sanitary authorities, with no inconsiderable powers of enforcing the means of public health in rural, urban, port and other jurisdictions, with summary methods of procedure.