§ MR. D. SULLIVAN (Westmeath, S.)
On behalf of the hon. Member for North Westmeath, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Royal Canal between Dublin and Tarmonbarry has not for several years been kept in a satisfactory navigable condition, even when the head 1022 of water at Lough Owel was more than ample to supply the canal; whether the present owners of the canal, the Midland Great Western Railway Company, are bound by Section 36 of the local Act, 8 & 9 Vict., c 119, to maintain and preserve the waterway for the purposes of navigation; whether he is aware that in many places the canal is choked with weeds, and that for a very long period no dredging has been carried out by the Railway Company; and can he state when was the canal last inspected, and what steps he proposes to take to compel the company to clear the canal?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD or TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA, Sheffield, Brightside)
I have communicated with the Midland Great Western Railway Company of Ireland, who state that the Royal Canal has been kept in a satisfactory and navigable condition until last September, when the prolonged and unprecedented drought and the consequent fall of the water level in Lough Owel, which supplies the summit level of the canal, reduced the depth of the water in the canal for a distance of 15 miles between Killucen and Coolnahay to such an extent that this portion of the canal has since been only navigable by barges of light draught and modern design. That the company are now seeking Parliamentary powers to raise the level of Lough Owel for the purpose of impounding more water therein, to be drawn upon in time of drought. That the company have maintained, upheld, and preserved the canal navigation as required by Section 36 of the Act 8 & 9 Vict., c 119. That the canal is not, nor has it at any time, been choked with weeds. That five working barges with crews and appliances are constantly employed in dredging and cutting weeds along the line of the canal; and that the canal is constantly and regularly inspected from end to end by the company's officers.