§ MR. SHEEHAN (Kerry, E.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway Company, with a capital of £150,000, consists of nine members, while there are 10 Directors, only two of whom hold shares in the company, and that the 10 Directors will be able to draw £20 a year each from the receipts; whether he is aware that the Directors, over seven months before the opening of the line, appointed a secretary at £200 a year, and a manager at £150, which they have lately increased to £200 a year; while, on several other railway lines, the duties of the two offices are performed by one official; whether the secretary was appointed at a meeting of the Board without any previous public announcement, that he is the son of the Vice Chairman of the company, both of whom are engaged in local commercial business, and that the appointment has given rise to a great deal of dissatisfaction among the other local traders, since their business over the line will be open to the inspection of a rival trader, thus placing them at a very serious disadvantage; and whether, since this line was built under the Tramways (Ireland) Act of 1883, the Treasury will contribute half the required guarantee, when such expenses have been incurred?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have no official information upon the points raised in the question, and I would 1203 suggest that the hon. Gentleman should address his inquiry to the Treasury.
§ MR. SHEEHAN
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the recent Repot of General Hutchinson, the Board of Trade Inspector, on the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway and Tramway in the County Kerry; if the steepest railway gradient in the Kingdom (1 in 30) is on this line, a distance of three miles, on which gradient the train has been stopped twice while ascending, first, to get up steam, second, to examine the brake; and if these stoppages are, as alleged, in accordance with General Hutchinson's orders; whether, shortly after the opening of the line, the couplings of the waggons and the rolling stock generally were in such bad condition that the company has had to apply to the Lord Lieutenant for a free grant, to replace and repair the carriages and engines; whether the scale of speed laid down by General Hutchinson is being adhered to; whether trains are permitted to be run after sunset, and if it is legal to lock both doors of carriages while the train is in motion; and whether he is aware that, of the six regular Directors, four, including the Chairman, have no shares in the company, and if this state of things is in accordance with the Companies' Acts?
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
Yes, Sir. The Reports of General Hutchinson to the Board of Trade have been before me. The steepest gradient on the line is, as stated, 1 in 30. This is unusually steep, but I am aware of certainly two other gradients as steep. I know nothing of the stoppages referred to in the second part of the question. The company, having undertaken to comply with the recommendations contained in General Hutchinson's Reports of the 24th December, 1890, and of the 16th of March last, including the scale of speed, were, on the 17th March, permitted to open the line. There is nothing in the Regulations to prevent the running of trains after sunset, or in the law to prevent the locking of both doors; which latter, however, is an extremely undesirable proceeding. I have no knowledge of the number of shares held by the Directors, and I am not aware of any general provision in the Acts relating to companies 1204 which prescribes the number of shares to be held by a Director.