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In some departments the old Routes Départementales' have been left in the hands of the engineers of the State (Ponts et Chaussées), whereas the other roads are confided to a local staff, called service vicinal.' In other cases, the whole of the roads are managed by the engineers of the Ponts et Chaussées, who receive on that account a special indemnity or extra pay from the department. But in most cases, as far as I am aware, the conseils généraux' have entrusted the whole network of county roads, great and small, to their own officials of the service vicinal,' paid entirely out of the county budget, and under the direct control of the county representatives, who could stop their pay if they had any serious cause of complaint.

At the head of the service vicinal' is the agent voyer en chef, who is sometimes an engineer who has left the service of the State for that of the department, sometimes a man who has distinguished himself in the service vicinal. Under him there are several agents voyers d'arrondissement, and in each canton one or two agents voyers cantonaux,' according to the size and importance of the canton. These latter agents have under their orders a large number of 'cantonniers,' who are attached permanently to the different roads and execute all the current minor repairs ; when these are not sufficient, other workmen are engaged temporarily. In the rural districts these cantonniers' are generally allowed a month's holiday at harvesttime, and are able thereby to eke out considerably their rather scanty pay. The agents voyers' now form a considerable body of skilled men all over France; they are regularly trained in the art of constructing and repairing roads, of making the best use of the very variable materials at their disposal ; their methods are embodied in regular handbooks, and all questions connected with their profession are discussed in a monthly review; many of them have become excellent practical engineers.

The next point to be considered is the nature and origin of the financial resources, by means of which the network of roads is so admirably kept up. This portion of my subject ought to be particularly interesting to English readers, as it illustrates one of the new principles contained in Mr. Ritchie's Local Government Bill, viz. that those who use the roads should pay for them.

The following are the principal items which make up the budget des routes et chemins :'1, The Prestations en nature,' which I will describe in detail presently ; 2, "Subventions Industrielles,' paid by manufacturers and others who subject the roads to special wear and tear ; 3, A large contribution from the general county rates, or centimes additionnels,' of which I shall speak hereafter.

I will first explain the system of the ‘Prestations. Every ratepayer, except such as are exempted by the conseil municipal,' is bound to furnish, for the repairing and maintenance of the roads in his parish or in the immediate vicinity, three days' labour, whic VOL. XXIII.-No. 136.

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are called “journées de prestation ;' and, further, three days' work of all horses, donkeys, mules, draught oxen, and carts in his possession, and of the servants or permanent labourers in his employment. The poorer ratepayers often perform their three days' work in person ; the farmers and some landowners send their horses and carts with men to quarry, load, or unload the earth or stones which have to be carted; this is the real 'prestation en nature,' that is, a contribution in kind as distinguished from contributions in money. But in practice a large proportion of the prestations' are redeemed, according to a moderate tariff which is voted every year by the conseil général, and are converted into money payments. The tariff varies of course in different parts of France. In my own department, the Aisne, which is a rich one with large manufacturing and agricultural interests, the day's labour of a man can be commuted for two francs, or 18. 8d., the day of a horse or draught ox for three francs and a quarter, or 28. 8d., and the rest in proportion. In prosperous years there is always an increase in the money payments, whereas in years of depression there is invariably more labour in kind and less commutation; therefore the results of the prestations afford in a certain measure a test of the local prosperity. Generally speaking, it is the interest of the county that a large proportion of the manual labour should be commuted for money, because the regular paid labourers do more and better work than the casual workmen who come to acquit themselves of their prestations.' On the other hand, the more carting is done by the prestataires' the better for the county finances, for it is cheaper than hired carting, and in some districts the latter is difficult to obtain in sufficient quantity. The prestations, besides being redeemable in money, may be converted into piecework. For instance, a farmer, or an association of several farmers, may engage to cart away a certain quantity of earth when a road is being widened, or they may undertake to furnish a given quantity of stones along a certain stretch of road; and this is often done, because the operation is advantageous both for the agents voyers' and for the farmers, the former having merely to verify the quantity of road stuff delivered instead of superintending the daily work, while the latter can choose their own time and do their carting when their cattle and wagons are not required for the work of the farm.

The prestations' are executed under the direction of the agents voyers cantonaux,' who assign to each parish the task it has to perform, and the particular roads and sections of roads on which the work must be done. This is sometimes a delicate duty, for the ‘prestataires’ naturally object to going any distance from their villages, whereas materials in many cases must be fetched from quarries situated some miles off, or repairs must be carried out on roads which run through a neighbouring parish. In these cases it is

for the agent voyer' to decide what work will be best performed by hired labour, and what can be fairly assigned to the 'prestataires.' When a parish thinks that it has been unfairly treated, it can appeal for redress to the conseil général, whose decision is final. In all contracts entered into by the service vicinal' for the regular keeping up of the roads, the portion to be paid in money and the portion to be executed by the prestataires' are always clearly specified. In order to mark the importance of the prestations' I may state that in my department they represent rather more than half of the total expenditure on the roads maintained by the conseil général,' and this is not all, for some of the prestations' are employed on the chemins vicinaux ordinaires,' or purely parochial roads.

The subventions industrielles' are an important element in the road-budget, at least in the manufacturing districts. They are levied on the principle that certain industries and manufactures which make use of large wagons and cart very heavy loads cause an abnormal wear and tear of the roads, the repairing of which cannot be fairly charged on the general body of ratepayers. This is particularly the case with sugar factories, distilleries, and other industries, whose chief period of activity is in the autumn and winter, when the roads are wet and peculiarly liable to be cut up by heavy traffic. The amount of the 'subvention' is debated between the 'agents-voyers' and the parties interested, and a fair arrangement is generally agreed upon under the sanction of the conseil général ;' but if the parties cannot agree the matter is referred to the conseil de préfecture,' or administrative tribunal, with whom the final decision lies. The subvention industrielle' must always be spent on certain specified roads or sections of roads, and cannot be applied indiscriminately to the general purposes of the service vicinal.' Some manufacturers prefer contracting for the keeping up the roads they use, and these arrangements must also be sanctioned by the conseil général' or its permanent committee.

Besides the prestations' and the subventions industrielles' there are some other minor sources of revenue which belong to the road-budget; for instance, the sale of the trees planted along the roads and the tolls paid at ferries; but these are of small importance.

A special budget for the roads is prepared every year by the * agent voyer en chef,' and laid before the conseil général.' It is divided into two sections, the first comprising all the ordinary annual repairs, the second relating to the reconstruction of old and ill-constructed sections, the straightening of sharp curves, the lowering of steep gradients, or the construction of entirely new roads; the last mentioned case is not, however, now of frequent occurrence, at any rate in the wealthier departments.

The budget is presented in the following simple shape : First comes the estimate of the cost of all the ordinary repairs for the

ensuing year; from this total is deducted the estimated value of the prestations en nature' and of the 'subventions industrielles,' which do not vary much from year to year, and the balance of the expenditure is covered by a large contribution from the general county rates. This contribution is voted separately, and then becomes one of the items of the general budget of the department. The second portion of the budget, relating to new work or exceptional repairs and alterations, is established on a rather different basis; in this case the prestations' and the subventions industrielles' are not applicable, for they are reserved by law for the ordinary repairs and maintenance ( entretien ') of the roads. Instead of this resource we find the voluntary contributions of the communes and of individuals, without which the department nowadays seldom undertakes to carry out any new work or expensive alteration. The balance of the expenditure is provided for out of ordinary or special county rates and out of the proceeds of loans which have been duly authorised for that purpose. In all cases where alterations of old roads or the construction of new ones are demanded by communes' or parishes, they are obliged to indemnify the owners for the new land that must be taken up; where the land is cut up into small holdings this is a very serious charge on the parish rates; but where it belongs to middle-class or large proprietors it is almost always given up gratuitously.

The chemins vicinaux ordinaires,' or strictly parochial roads, do not properly come within the sphere of action of the conseils généraux,' because they are entirely maintained out of the parochial rates and out of that portion of the prestations' which is reserved for parochial uses. It is only in the case of new parochial roads that the conseil général and the State give grants in aid, in proportion to the poverty of the parish on the one hand, and to the sacrifices made by the parish and the gifts of individuals on the other. For instance, if a landowner makes a free gift of all the land required for a new road, and if the parish votes even a small rate, both the State and the department, or at any rate the latter, will come to their assistance.

The last section of the road-budget comprises the salaries and indemnities of the agents, office expenses, and pensions. Such is the organisation of the service vicinal'in a French department; it is a very simple and effective one, and has produced admirable results. (To be continued.)


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The titles of articles are printed in italics.



BDUL AZIZ, the Death of, and of | Anglo-Saxon system of local govern-
Turkish Reform, 276–296

ment, 424 425
Ackermann (Mme.), quoted, 678 Animals, whether capable of thinking,
Acland (Mrs. W. A. D.), A Lady's 573-574
' American Notes,' 403–413

– language an impassable barrier be-
Actors and actresses, position of, in tween men and, 743–745
France in the eighteenth century,

,601 Arcady, snowed up in, 517-535
Adams (John), the American revolu- Argyll (Duke of), A Great Confession,
tionist, 111-112

Adams (John Quincy), the American reply to, 207-215
statesman, 884-885

Aristotle on government, 63
Adams (Samuel), the American revolu- Army, the, what its strength should be,

Adler (Dr.), on the Jewish immigration actual strength of, 803–805
question, quoted, 415

Army officers, length of life of, 391
Admirals, instances of longevity in, 391 Arnold (Matthew), Shelley, 23–39
Admiralty Confusion, the, and its Cure, Civilisation in the United States, 481-

Admiralty, a Workable, 809–816

Art, the Decline of, 71-92
Agriculture, future of, in England, 717– Japanese, is it extinct ? 354–369

Artisans, education of, 172-180
capabilities of, in Western Europe, Artists, instances of longevity among

Air, more, for London, 181–188 Assas (Chevalier d'), 599
Alcohol in relation to longevity, 380, Athens described, 895–896

Australia, the Chinese in, 617-619
Allotments question, history of the, 394- Austria-Hungary, manufacturing indus-

try of, 508
- Earl Fortescue's personal experience Auxiliary Cavalry, our, 555-568
as to, 398–401

Avocado pear, the, 687
Almsgiving, 327-328

Aye-aye, the, 149
American competition, 834-836
American Notes,' a Lady's, 403-413 RACILLUS anthracis, 841-842
American Statesmen, 93–114, 881-892 Bahamas, in the, 682–692
Amurath the Fifth, 289

Bankipur, an extinct settlement on the
— insanity of, 291-292

Hugli, 47
Anderson (William), on Japanese art, Beale (Miss Dorothea), Girls' Schools,
quoted, 355

Past and Present, 541-554


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