HC Deb 26 June 1865 vol 180 cc844-7

Order for Committee read.


said, that he did not rise for the purpose of opposing the House going into Committee, but he did not think that the passing of Continuance Acts was the way to get rid of these turnpike trusts. The Committee which sat upon this subject thought it quite feasible to abolish turnpikes altogether. They were an unfair and inconvenient mode of collecting money, pressed unequally upon different places, and were very uneconomical in working. The whole of the toll income collected under turnpike trusts was £1,043,185, and to collect this amount 4,400 toll-gates were maintained. The annual expense of each bar must be something like £25, so that the total expense was £110,000, or more than 10 per cent upon the whole toll income collected. In the present Act only eleven trusts were mentioned which were actually intended to expire, and, as there were nearly 1,100 trusts altogether, a very considerable time would elapse in getting rid of these if they were only abolished at the slow rate of eleven a year. He wanted to know why 160 trusts which were out of debt were not abolished and the roads thrown on the parishes. He hoped that during the recess this subject would be considered by the Home Office, and that in another year either the Government or some influential Member would bring in a Bill which would put an end to the obnoxious system of turnpikes.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Continuance of Acts, except 7 G. 4. c. lxxxv., 7 G. 4.c. cxxv., 7 &c 8 G. 4. c. vii., 9 G. 4. c. cviii., 1 W. 4. c. viii., 3 W. 4. c. liii., 3 W. 4. c. lxi., 3 &, 4 W. 4. c. c, 2 Vict. c. xiv., 5 Vict, c. xlv., 6 &c 7 Vict. c. cviii., 13 & 14 Vict, c. lxxxv).


said, he should again move, as an Amendment, the addition of the words "also an Act 5 Geo. IV. c. 56, for repairing the Lower Road from Greenwich to Woolwich," with a view to put an end to that trust by exempting it from the operation of the Bill, He had brought on the subject one night last week, and on a division carried his Amendment by eighteen to fourteen, but as there were not sufficient Members present to form a House be was bound to bring on the question again. This trust had been continued for nineteen years, and the debt was £2,400, but if the trust was continued from year to year he doubted whether the debt would ever be liquidated. On the north side of the Thames the trusts were abolished without any regard to the question whether they were in debt or not.


said, that the trusts on the north of the Thames were not abolished before their debt was paid off. He maintained that the Bill was in accordance with the legislation affecting the trusts on the north side of the river, and equitable as between the public and private individuals. He regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman was not satisfied with what had been done by the Home Office in regard to this trust. The trust was indebted to the extent of £2,000, the debt originally being £12,000. An arrangement was made by which the existing debt was to be paid off at the rate of £500 a year, and if the trustees were advised to come to Parliament for a Bill, the effect would be to increase the debt. He was prepared to insert that trust in the schedule, but he insisted on the understanding that the matter might be considered and dealt with by a Committee of Parliament next year according to its merits.


said, that the aggregate debt had been diminished from £9,000,000 to £4,000,000. There was no instance of a debt on a turnpike trust being swept away by a Select Committee of that House.


said, that through the mismanagement of individuals having control of the matter, the money which had been borrowed on the security of the tolls, instead of having been gradually repaid, still remained as a charge upon the tolls, and it was now seriously proposed that Parliament should pay off the claim. He should not divide the Committee upon the question, but he trusted that the Government would take good security for the fulfilment of the engagement. He could not understand why the country should be called on to make good the losses caused by errors of judgment on the part of turnpike trustees. Everybody advancing money on turnpike trusts knew that the security was limited to twenty or thirty years. The trusts had been abused, and the House of Commons had in many cases renewed the Acts. Last year the Government undertook that this trust should be inquired into by a Committee, and if that pledge had been redeemed there would have been no need for them to come forward and now say that they would do it next year.


said, he advised the acceptance of the Government offer. He objected to a different system of legislation taking place with regard to turnpike trusts on the south side of the Thames to what had taken place on the north side of the Thames.


said, that he also advised the acceptance. As far as his constituents were concerned they were divided. The toll-payers liked the Bill; those who would have to pay in future disapproved of it.


said, what he understood the hon. Gentleman to propose was, that the turnpike trust, of the Woolwich and Greenwich lower road should be put into the schedule, and that next year he would not take it out, and that when a Bill should be brought in by the trustees of the road, as was done this year, he would not recommend them to withdraw it, and then put it into the exception clause. The effect of the arrangement, as he understood it, was, that for one year, and for one year only, the trust was to remain, and that the Government would have nothing to do with it next year, but would leave the trustees to bring in a Bill to be decided upon by Parliament. That would carry out what was proposed by the Home Office last year. On that understanding he was willing to accede to the proposal, but he should have preferred an Amendment declaring that the trust should, unless revised by special Act of Parliament, be abolished on the 1st of August in next year.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


MR. DARBY GRIFFITH moved to omit "1 Geo. IV. c. 69, an Act for repairing and improving several roads leading into and from Devizes, in the county of Wilts." He said that the trust did not come within the recommendations of the Committee of last year, and the person who had advanced money to the amount of £850 had threatened to seize the tolls if the trust were not omitted from the schedule.


said, the circum- stances of the trust warranted some delay, and he was therefore willing to accede to the request of the hon. Member for Devizes, hoping that before next year some arrangement might be come to between the parties.

House resumed.

Bill Reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Twelve of the clock.