HC Deb 14 March 1850 vol 109 cc933-7

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


objected to the measure, as putting the management of the highways under the direction of a body by no means the best qualified to conduct such matters economically and well, namely, the guardians of the union. Why not enact that the ratepayers, when electing a board of guardians, should also elect a separate board of waywardens? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Home Department would perhaps consent to refer this question to a Select Committee. With all his anxiety for the amelioration of the existing system, he (Sir W. Jolliffe) would rather see legislation upon it postponed to another Session, than agree to such a measure as this, likely to work expensively and ill, and to have a demoralising tendency in regard to the employment of the poor.


supported the Bill, and hoped the second reading would not be opposed, and that objections to the details would be reserved until the Bill was in Committee.


did not believe the machinery proposed would work well, and thought it would be very hard that a new and expensive system should be forced upon the whole country, because in certain parts of the kingdom the roads were badly managed. He hoped the Bill would be put off to another Session, by which time it would be better understood throughout the country, and the opinions of competent judges of the proposed change could be had.


hoped, at all events, the Bill would be postponed till after Easter. Two years ago, the principle which it embodied had been objected to by that House—namely, that of a central controlling power in London; and a more inconvenient arrangement could not be easily conceived. The unions were formed for a different purpose, and would be found to vary most inconveniently in regard to size and otherwise. The guardians found their proper occupation heavy enough; and, in some parts of the country, the Bill would cast upon them work which would very much interfere with the due administration of the poor-law.


could not join in the proposal to postpone this Bill either until next Session, or until after Easter, For fifteen years the subject had been before the House. Every one acknowledged that something ought to be done, and yet, the moment a Bill was introduced, the Government were asked to postpone it until next year. He owned he regarded with some jealousy the proposal to make the boards of guardians discharge the duties of way wardens, which were in many respects extraneous to their proper functions, and to some degree inconsistent with them. As a friend to the new poor-law, he was anxious not to see any addition made to the duties of the guardians which might interfere with the efficient working of that measure. Could not the Government avail themselves of the existing machinery, and have a double election every year for guardians and way wardens? The same body of ratepayers might vote, and the same persons might be elected, if they pleased to serve both offices, but let them be a distinct body. This, however, was a matter that might be discussed in Committee, and meanwhile he would support the second reading.


thought there were grave objections to placing the control of the expenditure at the discretion of boards of guardians, who would often be tempted to repair the highways on a profligate system for the purpose of finding employment for their surplus labour. He trusted the Government would postpone the Bill so as to allow hon. Members the opportunity of discussing the details with their country constituents at the Easter quarter sessions.


recommended the Government to press the second reading, after the ample opportunities which the House and the country had already enjoyed of discussing this subject.


said, considering the objections that had been made to the principle of the Bill by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, and other hon. Members, on a former occasion, he thought it might be postponed without injury to the country. It was obviously unjust to press it on the House at that moment, as none of the country Members were present; indeed, none of them believed it would come on until after Easter. He doubted whether boards of guardians would be able to find a committee; while, if they could not, the highways would be neglected.


would have been willing to entertain the proposal to postpone the Bill if the subject were now brought before Parliament for the first time; but, as the subject had been repeatedly considered in that House, had been referred to Select Committees, and brought under the notice of Gentlemen at quarter-sessions, he thought that no advantage could arise from any further postponement of the Bill. He had reason to believe that the general principle of this Bill, namely, the formation of districts of parishes for the maintenance of highways, and the appointment of a paid surveyor, had met with general concurrence. He also believed it was generally felt that the appointment of a paid surveyor would conduce to real economy instead of leading to a larger expenditure. Whether the board of guardians were the fittest body to have the management of the highways, was a question which might be fairly discussed in Committee. For himself, he had doubts whether a separate body of elected way wardens would be very different from the board of guardians. Substantially the two systems would be found in their results to be the same. If the House would agree to the second reading now, he would fix the Committee for some day after Easter, in order that hon. Members might have the opportunity of discussing the details of the Bill with their constituents during the Easter recess.


said, the magistrates upon the grand jury in Cumberland were unanimously opposed to this Bill. He moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the word "upon this day six months."


seconded the Motion.


wished to know whether districts where the highways were now administered under special Acts of Parliament, would be interfered with by the present measure?


replied, that it was not intended that this Bill should extend to any districts which at present appointed a surveyor under local Acts.


hoped the hon. Member would not proceed to a division. He was sure it would produce a very bad effect, as there seemed a general feeling in favour of the Bill.


thought it unfair that a sweeping and offensive Bill should be introduced, because the roads in some districts were bad, putting counties to very great expense for an object not wanted.


said, the existing officers of the board of guardians would be the officers to discharge the duties imposed under this Bill, with the exception of one district surveyor, who, it was admitted on all sides, ought to be appointed. Much had been said about the roads of Cumberland. There were many bad roads, and some good ones too, in that county, but he knew it to be a fact, that not only in the north of England, but throughout every part of the country, a very strong feeling prevailed that a general system of management ought to be introduced. He trusted the House would consent to the second reading of the Bill on the understanding that a day after Easter should be fixed for the Committee.


objected to the creation of 650 new officers throughout the country, as the salaries would fall principally on the distressed agriculturists. He should therefore support the Amendment.


said, that his objection to the Bill was, that a sweeping measure was to be introduced, entirely levelling the existing system in parts of the country where the roads were admitted to be good. He also objected to putting the roads under the boards of guardians. In one case a representation had been made to him, that out of a board of thirty-two guardians, only two had any property at all, and he believed it was not uncommon to see tavern keepers elected guardians who did not occupy more than some twenty acres of land. He objected to the Bill, in the third place. because he thought it would lead to considerable jobbing.


said, that as he believed the Bill might be rendered much less objectionable in Committee, he should vote for the second reading. He would feel strongly opposed to any Bill that referred merely to a part of the country. He intended in Committee objecting to giving the power to the board of guardians collectively, but he thought that if it were made compulsory on the guardians to elect a committee of their body for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill, much of the difficulty which he saw to the Bill would be removed.


said, the principle of the Bill, as described, was the dividing of the country into districts, and appointing skilled officers over each. To that principle he would give his cordial assent, but on looking into the Bill he found the principle of it to be the mixing up of the highways with the poor-law—one of the greatest disadvantages that could possibly take place. He should therefore feel bound to vote against the second reading.


said, he had served on the Committee on this Bill two years ago; and he recollected that the great difficulty felt by the Committee when they tried to form separate boards of way-wardens was, that such boards would become in most, if not in all, instances identical with the boards of guardians. As the principle of the Bill was the extension of the districts, and the appointment of adequate surveyors—a principle that the House had concurred in for the last fifteen years—he thought it would be a very strange proceeding to oppose the second reading of the Bill on points of detail, which should more properly be considered in Committee.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 144, Noes 55: Majority 89.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Bernal, R.
Aglionby, H. A. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Anstey, T. C. Bowles, Adm.
Arkwright, G. Boyle, hon. Col.
Armstrong, R. B. Bramston, T. W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Brocklehurst, J.
Brockman, E. D.
Bagshaw, J. Brotherton, J.
Bailey, J. Brown, W.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Buxton, Sir E. N.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T. Cardwell, E.
Bass, M. T. Carew, W. H. P.
Carter, J. B. Moffatt, G.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Monsell, W.
Christy, S. Morris, D.
Clay, J. Mulgrave, Earl of
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Mundy, W.
Clive, H. B. Muntz, G. F.
Cobden, R. Mure, Col.
Cocks, T. S. Norreys, Lord
Compton, H. C. Ogle, S. C. H.
Cowan, C. Pakington, Sir J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Palmer, R.
Deedes, W. Parker, J.
Denison, E. Patten, J. W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Peel, F.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Pelham, hon. D. A.
Duncombe, hon. O. Perfect, R.
Duncuft, J. Plowden, W. H. C.
Dundas, Adm. Power, Dr.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Power, N.
Ebrington, Visct. Pusey, P.
Ellis, J. Rawdon, Col.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Reynolds, J.
Emlyn, Visct. Ricardo, J. L.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Ricardo, O.
Foley, J. H. H. Rice, E. R.
Forster, M. Rich, H.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Romilly, Col.
Glyn, G. C. Romilly, Sir J.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Rushout, Capt.
Greenall, G. Sandars, G.
Greene, J. Scholefield, W.
Grenfell, C. W. Seymer, H. K.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Seymour, Lord
Grosvenor, Lord R. Sheridan, R. B.
Hardcastle, J. A. Simeon, J.
Harris, R. Smith, J. A.
Hatohell, J. Smith, J. B.
Hawes, B. Smollett, A.
Heneage, G. H. W. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Henry, A. Spearman, H. J.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Heywood, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Heyworth, L. Tenison, E. K.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Tennent, R. J.
Hobhouse, T. B. Thesiger, Sir F.
Hollond, R. Thicknesse, R. A.
Howard, P. H. Thompson, Col.
Howard, Sir R. Thornely, T.
Jackson, W. Walmsley, Sir J.
Jermyn, Earl Walpole, S. H.
Jervis, Sir J. Westhead, J. P. B.
Keating, R. Willcox, B. M.
Kershaw, J. Williams, J.
Legh, G. C. Williamson, Sir H.
Lennard, T. B. Wilson, J.
Locke, J. Wilson, M.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Wood, W. P.
Martin, C. W. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Masterman, J. Wyvill, M.
Mathesonp Col. TELLERS.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Lewis, G. C.
Mitchell, T. A. Hayter.W. G.
List of the NOES.
Bennet, P. Dodd, G.
Blackall, S. W. Edwards, H.
Bremridge, R. Farnham, E. B.
Broadley, H. Farrer, J.
Chaplin W. J. Fellowes, E.
Chatterton. Col. Filmer, Sir E.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Floyer, J.
Coles, H. B. Forbes W.
Frewen, C. H. Lockhart, W.
Gaskell, J. M. Long, W.
Goddard, A. L. Mackenzie, W. F.
Grogan, E. Manners, Lord G.
Guernsey, Lord Miles, P. W. S.
Gwyn, H. Mullings, J. R.
Halsey, T. P. Naas, Lord
Hamilton, G. A. Newdegate, C. N.
Harris, hon. Capt. Portal, M.
Heathcoat, J. Sibthorp, Col.
Henley, J. W. Smyth, J. G.
Hildyard, R. C. Spooner, R.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Stanford, J. F.
Hood, Sir A. Stanley, E.
Hornby, J. Sullivan, M.
Hudson, G. Vesey, hon. T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Waddington, H. S.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Lennox, Lord A. G. TELLERS.
Lewisham, Visct. Strickland, Sir G.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Hodgson, W. N.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Thursday, 11th April.