From 1834 the destitute of England and Wales had a new environment of rights, responsibilities and hazards to navigate, in the form of the Poor Law Amendment Act. The relative independence of guardians in their contracting practices means that the local geography of supply, and hence the spatial dimension of poor law activity, must be a vital consideration for economic and social historians, just as it was for union boards. The local administration of relief was brought under unprecedented central government scrutiny with the formation of the Poor Law Commission and its successors, the Poor Law Board and the Local Government Board. Historians have tended to aggregate poor law data by county or region, partly as a result of the necessity of making the data manageable. North Wales's poor law unions in 1850 had among the highest percentage of the population defined as paupers in all of England and Wales.