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ing an act, until after a select committee had been appointed to examine minutely into the state of the road, and into the accounts of it; and time should be allowed for petitions to be presented to the House against the Bill, and for having the allegations contained in them fully examined.
But in addition to the measures now proposed, however well adapted they may be for putting the trustees of turnpike roads under more control than they now are, another should be taken further to secure an upright and efficient discharge of their duties, namely that of placing them under the immediate superintendence of a public Board of commissioners.
The Commissioners of Land Revenue are well suited to act as a Board for this purpose. They have recently been appointed to do the business heretofore done by the Board of Works, and also to execute the powers vested in the Commissioners of the Holyhead Roads.
If this plan were adopted, the commissioners should have power given to them to cause annual inspections to be made by competent civil engineers, of all the principal roads in England, Scotland, and Wales, so as to obtain accurate information concerning the proceedings of every turnpike trust. Every trust should be obliged to furnish them with an annual account of its income, expenditure, and debt, and they should also have authority to enquire into the details of the income and expenditure of every trust. An annual report should be made by the commissioners to parliament, containing a summary of the information derived by them from their inspections and enquiries.
This Board, in addition to what is here required of it as a Board of Control, should be enabled to act as a Board to assist the trustees in making alterations and improvements. It should be authorised to have surveys made of all the mail-coach roads of Great Britain. These surveys should show the ground plan of each road, its vertical longitudinal section, and the alterations and improvements that may be made in it. The Board should furnish each trust with a copy of the survey of the road under its management, and be enabled to make an arrangement with it for carrying the necessary alterations and improvements into execution.
In order that the Board may be placed in a situation to be competent to make such an arrangement, similar powers should be given to it to issue Exchequer bills to those possessed by the Commissioners (under 57 Geo. 3. c. 54.) for issuing Exchequer bills for public works. Loans should be made to the trustees, and they should be permitted to lay on additional tolls to pay interest at the rate of three per cent., and to provide a sinking fund for repayment of at least three per cent. more.
But the money raised by these loans should not be paid over to the trustees; it should be held by the Board, and expended by it in making the intended alterations and improvements
The Board should have power to purchase land, procure materials, and to do whatever is necessary for making new roads.
This plan is the same as that which has been acted upon by the Parliamentary Commissioners in making the improvements on that part of the Holyhead Road which lies between London and Shrewsbury.
When the Parliamentary Commissioners undertook the improvement of this road in 1820, the portion of it between London and Birmingham was one of the worst roads in England. The consequence was, that nearly all the travelling from London to Birmingham was by Oxford, though the longest road by eight miles ; but now the travelling has been transferred from the Oxford line to the Coventry line; so that the plan now proposed, with respect to the prospect of its success, has the sanction of experience.
It may further be mentioned in support of it, that the trustees on the Coventry line acknowledge the great advantages they have derived from the interference of the Parliamentary Commissioners, and have always acted cordially with them.*
If this plan for assisting trustees in improving the roads, were applied in the first instance only to the principal mail-coach roads, the expense to be incurred by the Board of Control in making surveys and inspections would be of moderate amount. These might be made by resident civil engineers, acting under a chief engineer. The salary of each resident engineer need not exceed 300l. a year. Four assistant engineers in England, and one in Scotland, would be able to do all the business necessary for making surveys and reports, until the Board of Control should have to execute new works. The resident civil engineer, under Mr. Telford, who conducted for several years all the works on the road between London and Shrewsbury, received but 2001. a year.
He made a survey of the whole line; prepared all the plans, estimates, specifications, and drawings for the
* Mr. Huskisson, as Chairman of the Commissioners of Land Revenue, was, ex officio, Chairman of the Commissioners of the Holyhead Road. When the author proposed to him the plan of placing the trustees of this road under their control, he fully approved of it, saying that, if the plan succeeded, all the roads of the kingdom ought to be placed under a similar control.
improvements; inspected the contractors; and instructed the surveyors of the local trusts in carrying on the repairs of the road.
The following extract from the report of the Committee of the House of Commons in 1819, on the public highways, contains remarks which concur fully in principle with the recommendations now given for the improvement of the turnpike roads.
“ The importance of land-carriage to the prosperity of a country need not be dwelt upon. Next to the general influence of the seasons, upon which the regular supply of our wants, and a great proportion of our comforts, so much depend, there is, perhaps, no circumstance more interesting to men in a civilised state, than the perfection of the means of interior communication. It is a matter, therefore, to be wondered at, that so great a source of national improvement has hitherto been so much neglected. Instead of the roads of the kingdom being made a great national concern, a number of local trusts are created, under the authority of which large sums of money are collected from the public, and expended without adequate responsibility or control. Hence arises a number of abuses, for which noremedy is provided; and the resources of