HL Deb 25 April 1882 vol 268 cc1377-9

said, that, in putting the Question to Her Majesty's Government of which he had given Notice, he might, perhaps, be allowed to refer for one moment to a statement made by the Prime Minister in "another place," from which it might be gathered that the only advantage which ratepayers were likely to gain from the long-expected amendment of the Highway Acts would be the appropriation of a certain sum, amounting to about£247,000, to the purposes of highways, to be raised by increasing the tax upon private carriages. The boon would be not a very considerable one, especially as a large proportion of the increased tax would be paid by the owners of property who were already the overburdened class; while hired carriages, which, as had been admitted by the Prime Minister, used the roads, were exempted. In like manner, also, brewers' drays and other heavy vehicles engaged in trade would escape contribution in any shape towards the maintenance of highways. He might, therefore, be allowed to ask whether the proposed subvention was to be applied to all highways, or only to what were designated as main roads; whether highway districts were to be left in their present unsatisfactory state, many of which had been dissolved, or were in process of dissolution, in consequence of the prevailing dissatisfaction with regard to them; or whether the Act of 1878 was to remain in force without any Amendment? If Her Majesty's Government proposed to do no more than grant the subvention of a portion of the Carriage Tax, he believed it would be more satisfactory to the country if the Highway Act of 1878 were repealed, and the management of highways were to return to what it was before the passing of that Act, until the Government were able to deal more effectually with the question. He would conclude by asking the Question of which he had given Notice—namely, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce any measure this Session on the subject of highways?


, in reply, said, he would call attention to the fact that the noble Earl (Earl De La Warr) had put down his Question before the Financial Statement of Government had been made; and, therefore, before he could possibly have known what would be said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in "another place." He believed it would be necessary for a measure to be introduced in "another place" to give effect to the intentions of his right hon. Friend, and then the noble Earl would be enabled to see what those intentions were.