§ Order for Second Reading read.
, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, that at present there was no provision for the construction of new bridges in England and Wales out of any public fund. The only means by which a bridge could be obtained was by an Act of Parliament, which cost nearly as much as the structure itself, by the munificence of some private individual, or by a public subscription. The growing traffic in different parts of the country, however, rendered it necessary that further facilities should be provided. He, therefore, proposed in his Bill to give a permissive power to the magistrates to erect bridges over watercourses. Before anything was done there was to be a memorial from the inhabitants, a report by the surveyor, and an inquiry by four justices, two representing the district and two the county at large. If the majority of the latter were in favour of the project, it was to go to the Quarter Sessions for their decision.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time"—(Mr. Heygate.)
said, that the Bill related to an important matter. The principle upon which bridges had hitherto been secured in this country was, that though when built the county was under the obligation of repairing them, the building of them was left to those who wanted them. Now, there was no greater security that bridges should be erected only where they were wanted than that those who asked for them should pay the cost out of their own pocket. He had a great respect for the magistrates, but he 352 did not think they should be intrusted with a roving commission to build bridges. The landowners had burdens enough, and as some thought more than enough, to bear already; and this Bill would impose a new evil without any limit. There was no surer way of making a body of men unpopular than to give them powers of taxation; and that would be the result of this measure in regard to the magistrates. If the Bill passed, there would be an universal bridging over of all watercourses, down to dirty little brooks in every county, at the expense of the rates. He moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Henley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR BALDWIN LEIGHTON
agreed with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking it most undesirable that such powers should be placed in the hands of magistrates. He hoped the Bill would be withdrawn.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
thought the powers proposed to be given by this Bill very objectionable; and, after the observations which had been made, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press the Bill. Without anticipating any question that might be raised as to the amended Highway Act, he believed it would be better to leave the erection of bridges to be dealt with by the Highway Boards.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, that an evil existed for which he thought it was the duty of the House to see a remedy supplied. He thought the whole local taxation had arrived at a pitch which was extremely dangerous to the public interests; but he considered that where a grievance was proved it was the duty of the Government to see that some alteration was made in the Highway Act, giving power to the Highway Boards to provide the necessary bridges.
§ SIR MATTHEW RIDLEY
hoped the Bill would be withdrawn, believing it would place the justices in a most invidious position. The existing machinery for making bridges over small streams was not so defective as some appeared to suppose.
§ Amendment, and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill withdrawn.