HC Deb 23 March 1837 vol 37 cc708-9
Mr. Maxwell

, on moving for a return of the debts on the Scotch Turnpike Trusts, for which the trustees are personally liable, observed, that many of the roads in Scotland were of very recent formation, and made at great expense by reason of the hills, morasses, and ravines, which intersected that country. The tolls upon them were consequently very high, and the only means by which The pressure of these tolls was alleviated were to be found in the low rate of interest which was paid to the creditors upon them, owing to the collateral security of trustees, some of the most public spirited of whom were personally bound for the debts. The railway projected through the counties for which his notice for returns was given, had caused great apprehension that the creditors might call up the monies they had lent; or at all events demand five per cent. instead of three and a half, for interest upon their bonds. The trustees would be obliged in such cases to cease from paying off' debt, and might be compelled to diminish the expense necessary for keeping the roads in the highest possible perfection, and to exact the highest possible rate of toll. The returns would show debt annually diminishing; money bonds chargeable with the lowest rate of interest; conveyances of the greatest weight carried through hilly districts with a very small horse power, by the smooth surface and level line of road formed by this system of personal liability, so creditable to the public-spirited persons who had come forward to establish these eligible lines of road for the public benefit. These trustees could not borrow at a higher rate of interest than five per cent., and could reap no profit whatever by such tolls on the traveller; whereas railway companies might gain twenty or thirty per cent. on travelling by their mode of conveyance; and might subject travellers on all public highways through which they passed to higher tolls or worse roads, and whose most valuable traffic, viz., passengers, they would carry away, to a decadence which would never be compensated to any but thoroughgoing travellers on one solitary line of communication. The hardship upon trustees whose lands were taken, and assignees whose securities were de- predated, appeared to him deserving of such consideration as they sought, not only on private, but public grounds; and he had accordingly brought their peculiar case under the notice of English Members who were not exposed to their peculiar difficulties by the English system of roads.

Returns ordered.

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