Page images
PDF
EPUB

will allow a waggon to be drawn upon it without much difficulty, will answer the purpose of those who compose the vestry. But such a road need not have any other qualities, than two ruts for the waggon wheels, and a track-way for the horses. The second reason is, that the limited extent and funds of a parish will not admit of giving such a salary to a surveyor as will secure the services of a person educated in the principles of road management, and otherwise qualified for the office of surveyor.

The next great error in principle, as to legislation on the common highways, is the means by which the funds for maintaining them are provided, namely, statute labour ; and it may be said with respect to this point, as it has been already said with respect to the former, that so long as this radical error in principle shall be recognised by parliament, it will be labour in vain to pass new acts to remedy existing evils.

A third great error in the system of parish management consists in the regulation by which a surveyor is appointed to act only for one year. This practice is founded on the vulgar notion, that the management of roads is something that requires no education; that it is not an art which requires skill and science. This practice may be set down as one which had its origin in

very rude times, and which long usage has made familiar ; but it certainly is one which ought to be abolished in the present enlightened state of society.

To legislate, therefore, on sound principles, the old custom of seeking to mend what is wrong, by laws containing a multitude of new regulations, must be abandoned: the country gentlemen who, as members of parliament, undertake the task of legislating on the subject, must look more to general principles ; and, to succeed, they should no longer act upon the principle of making parish vestries the governing authority; the principle of acquiring funds for the maintaining of the highways from statute labour ; and the principle of appointing annual surveyors.

The course which ought to be followed for introducing a more perfect system of management in England will be mentioned in the description now about to be given of the management of roads in the Scotch counties, under modern acts of parliament.

SCOTCH ROADS.

The principal roads in Scotland are turnpike roads, and the acts are similar to those of England, and partake of similar defects; but in

consequence of the excellent materials which abound in all parts of Scotland, and of the greater skill and science of Scotch trustees and surveyors, they are superior to the turnpike roads of England.

The highways which are not turnpike roads, or under the modern county acts, are managed under the regulations of the old laws of Scotland.

Two general meetings of the justices of each county, and of the Commissioners of Supply, must be held yearly, to order matters concerning the highways; and the conveners of the counties are to give the same previous notice for these two general meetings, as is given for ordinary general meetings of the Commissioners of Supply.*

Any five, and in the small shires of Kinross, Clackmannan, and Cromarty, any three, whether commissioners or justices, or consisting of both, are a quorum. This meeting may adjourn from time to time. It may choose clerks, surveyors, and other officers for putting the laws in execution. This meeting is empowered “to set down a particular list of highways, bridges, and ferries, within their bounds, and to divide the paroches

• Hucheson's Treatise, &c. vol. ii. p. 485.

of the said bounds, as they lie nearest to the several highways to be repaired, and as they may have the most equal burdens; and to appoint such of their number, or others, overseers of such parts and portions of the said highways as are most convenient and nearest to their ordinary residence; and to nominate such of their number as they

see fit, to survey and give an account of the • highways, bridges, and ferries, unto the rest ;

with powers to them to appoint meetings from time to time, till the survey, list, and division of the said highways be closed.*

For repairing the roads, the justices and Commissioners of Supply are intrusted with the charge of the statute labour.t

This system of managing the highways having been found very defective, most of the counties of Scotland have obtained acts of parliament for placing the roads under the government of trustees. The following are the principal provisions of these acts.

The governing authority for a county is vested in trustees. Every person in the county is appointed a trustee, who is possessed of a certain

* Act 1669, c. 10.

t Act 1617, c. 8. # See in Appendix, No. V. the principal clauses of the Act for the county of Forfar.

property; also the eldest sons of such persons; one guardian or trustee of minors possessing such property ; every person in the commission of the peace; the provost and two eldest baillies in each royal burgh in the county; the sheriff depute, and sheriff substitute.

The county is divided into districts.

The trustees residing in each district manage the roads contained in it.

The district meeting prepares annually a state and estimate for the general meeting.

The general meeting has power to order an assessment to be made on the occupiers of lands, not exceeding a prescribed amount.

The proceedings of the trustees of the districts at their meetings, are subject to the direction and control of the general meetings.

The trustees of the district meetings appoint surveyors of the roads in their districts, with salaries.

Sufficient powers are given to the trustees for obtaining land and materials for making, widening, and repairing roads, and building bridges.

This system of managing the highways of Scotland has the following advantages over the English system of parish management:

1st. A more efficient governing authority is provided.

« PreviousContinue »