HC Deb 25 March 1824 vol 10 cc1397-9
Mr. Cripps

rose, in pursuance of the notice he had given, to move for leave to bring in a bill to amend and consolidate the Turnpike Acts. The House would recollect, that a highway and turnpike act of enormous length, the latter containing 150 clauses, were enacted in the year 1822. So complicated were the clauses, that it was essentially necessary they should be explained, to enable magistrates properly to comprehend the meaning of the law. There was at present the greatest difficulty upon the executive part of the subject, and he was particularly anxious to have the clause altered, which, for one offence, affixed a maximum penalty of 5l., but no minimum sum. This, he thought, ought not to be left to the discretion of magistrates. There was an appeal to the sessions, if the penalty exceeded 40s.: but, to evade that appeal, there prevailed a practice of fining only 39s. One evil of these acts was, their inordinate length; and the consolidation which he proposed would, by shortening, obviate that serious inconvenience. If the hon. member below him (Mr. E. Lewis) meant to pursue the subject, he would not himself press the matter any further. If not, he would move, "That leave be given to bring in a bill to consolidate and amend the several acts relating to the Turnpike Roads; passed in the 3rd and 4th years of Geo. 4th."

Mr. F. Lewis

said, he had no wish to take the subject out of the hands of the hon. member, but he should be extremely happy to give him any information which he might be able to communicate. The acts which he (Mr. F. L.) had undertaken to carry through the House, at the express desire of the committee which sat on this subject, contained no less than one hundred and fifty clauses. If they were imperfect, it was not from any want of attention which had been given to the subject; they had occupied his (Mr. F. Lewis's) time and attention during three sessions. He thought the hon. member would fail in his object, if he attempted to combine the Highway acts with the Turnpike road acts. He agreed with the hon. member that it was desirable to consolidate acts for the purpose of shortening them; but the highway acts were themselves extremely long and complicated, and the hon. member would find the difficulty of legislating on this subject greatly increased; by attempting to combine them with the turnpike road acts; Under all the circumstances, he advised the hon. member to withraw his motion.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, that considerable improvements had been already made in the turnpike laws. One very material alteration was that of consolidating all the laws on the subject into two acts; and it would have been a still further improvement if they had been all comprised in the act of last session. A considerable portion of practical information had been already obtained, in consequence of the inquiries which had been set on foot; and he would therefore recommend his hon. friend to adopt the advice which had been given him, and to withdraw his motion for the present session. Great improvements were still necessary, but none so decidedly as to require immediate alteration.

Mr. Secretary Peel

entirely approved of the advice given by his hon. friend behind him. He should not now enter into any details, but he would recommend his hon. friend to withdraw his motion for the present, on the ground that we should only have, in another year, to be re-enacting a new measure, and that it would be much preferable to wait until we were in possession of additional information on the subject.

Mr. Cripps

said, that as a magistrate and a commissioner, before whom repeated complaints had been made of the inconveniences arising from the present laws, he had felt it his duty to come forward, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the hon. member meant to renew the measure he had some time back introduced to the House. However, as it seemed to be the general opinion that it would be preferable to postpone the subject to some future period, he had no objection to withdraw his motion.

The motion was accordingly withdrawn.