§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ EARL FORTESCUE
expressed his gratification at the progress which the measure had made. It was a Bill of great importance, as establishing the county and the union as the bases of rural local administration. He hoped that the Local Government Board would take into their consideration the desirability of making the boundaries of the counties and the unions coterminous wherever it was practicable so to do. He quite admitted that it was hardly possible in all cases; but in most they might make arrangements that they should be so, without any great difficulty. Now that the County Government Bill was given up, he 1286 looked upon this as the first instalment of measures for the more efficient local administration throughout the rural parts of the Kingdom; and he would only express a hope that the highway laws generally throughout the country might undergo a consolidating process, which would prevent the necessity of their being obliged to refer to so many Statutes. He also hoped that some opportunity would be taken of insuring a more efficient discharge of the duties of surveyors of highways than at present. He thought there ought to be the power—in addition to that of dismissal of the surveyor, which the authorities hesitated to adopt, because it was, of course, very difficult for a surveyor who was dismissed to obtain another appointment—of fining him to some appreciable extent where he neglected to repair the roads. Formerly, under the old Turnpike Acts, surveyors, on conviction before the justices, were liable to a slight penalty, not exceeding 40s., for neglect of duty, which they cheerfully paid rather than give up their appointment; and that, he thought, would, in the case of highway surveyors, now be found sufficient to keep them up to the efficient discharge of their duties. At present, as they could not punish the whole of the Highway Boards, who alone were legally responsible for the acts and neglects of their servants, he thought that it would be very convenient if some such provision as that which he had suggested were hereafter enacted. At all events, it would be desirable to make the provision under the old law which related to the surveyors applicable, rather than that under the new one.
§ A further Amendment made: and Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next.