A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts, however all of them have been granted or regranted royal charters to give them borough status (as well as some with city status). Metropolitan boroughs are effectively unitary authority areas, since the abolition of metropolitan county councils by the Local Government Act 1985.
The term metropolitan borough was also used for administrative subdivisions of London between 1900 and 1965. The present boroughs in London are known as London Boroughs rather than metropolitan boroughs.
The current metropolitan boroughs were created in 1974 as subdivisions of the new metropolitan counties which were created to cover the six largest urban areas in England outside Greater London. The new districts replaced the previous system of county boroughs, municipal boroughs, urban and rural districts. The districts typically have populations of 174,000 to 1.1 million.
Metropolitan districts were originally part of a two-tier structure of local government, and shared power with the metropolitan county councils (MCCs). They differed from non-metropolitan districts, in the division of powers between district and county councils. Metropolitan districts were Local Education Authorities and were responsible for social services and libraries; in non-metropolitan counties these services were the responsibility of county councils.
In 1986 the metropolitan county councils were abolished by the Local Government Act 1985 and most of their functions were devolved to the boroughs, making them to a large extent unitary authorities. Some of the functions of the abolished county councils were taken over by joint bodies such as passenger transport authorities, and joint fire, police and waste disposal authorities.
The 36 metropolitan boroughs are: