§ MR. PELL
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been directed to a doubt whether the Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878, gives county authorities power to pay out of the county rate half the expenses incurred in the maintenance of any main roads other than disturnpiked roads; 1075 and, whether he will cause the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown to be taken on the point?
Sir, my attention has been drawn to the doubt referred to by my hon. Friend, and which has in some few instances been expressed, and my answer has been that I am quite unable to concur in the doubt. The question has arisen, I think, from looking exclusively to Section 13 of the Act; but, if the contention were tenable, not only would Section 15—one of the most important provisions of the Act—be altogether inoperative, but effect could not be given to Section 18, which requires highway authorities to keep an account of the cost of maintaining main roads without any exception, and enables the county authority to withhold their contributions, not in the case of disturnpiked roads only, but of main roads generally. As regards the opinion of the Law Officers, it is the practice to resort to them for advice only in cases where the Department entertain doubt, or the matter concerns their own administration, both of which conditions are absent in the present case; and as the matter concerns the powers and duties of the magistrates, it would rather seem to be for my hon. Friend, or for Justices, if they entertain any doubts, than for me, to submit a case to the Law Officers.