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Volume 203: debated on Friday 22 July 1870

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, in rising to call attention to the state of Public Business, and, especially, the serious inconvenience resulting from the late period of the Session at which the Turnpike Acts Continuance Bill was brought forward, contrary to promises made in the early part of the Session, and the great inconvenience arising from its repeated insertion in the Notice Paper, and its postponement without cause assigned, said, that many contracts had expired, and the public were entitled to pass freely along roads upon which tolls were, nevertheless, exacted, which, under the circumstances, was quite unconstitutional. This Bill had been placed on the Paper no fewer than 15 times, and he had travelled more than 1,000 miles to meet the convenience of the Government. It was clear that no independent Member could efficiently perform his duty if such perfunctory and supercilious conduct on the part of the Government was not to be considered a fair subject for discussion in the House.

said, that there was in connection with all these Turnpike Act Continuance Bills a grievance never felt until this year, because the Committee which used, to consider measures of this description was practically abolished. No one could be more competent to sit on that Committee than the noble Lord the Member for North Derbyshire (Lord George Cavendish), and he regretted they had been deprived of his assistance in considering Bills of this kind. There was a question of great importance connected with the Bill referred to by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley). In regard to trusts about to expire, if the rates were to be saddled with the expense of keeping in repair the original turnpike roads, the burden would be very heavy on the townships through which the roads passed, because in many cases a great length of road passed through a particular township which practically derived no benefit from it. The Bill introduced this year contained a clause which would cast on the Highway Board the burden of repairing the turnpike road; but it should be borne in mind that the Highway Act had not been put in force over anything like the whole of the country. Consequently, in places where turnpike trusts had been abolished, and where the Highway Act was not in force, the burden would be very heavy indeed. He recommended that matters should be left for one year more; and then, at the beginning of another Session, the whole subject should be considered, and the area upon which the cost of maintaining the roads by rates should be once for all determined.

said, he must decline to enter, on the hon. Member's Motion, into the details of the measure that would, in its order, come on for general discussion on Monday next. The clause which the hon. Member proposed to move contained much good; but he could not accept it in the present Bill, for the reason that the turnpike trusts of the country must be dealt with in a great and general measure. It was impossible to postpone his Bill without inflicting great injustice in many cases, because trusts would, but for this Bill, terminate abruptly and without that notice which those concerned had a right to expect, after the course which Parliament had so long pursued.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.