§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Donegal, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury (1) whether his attention has been called to the resolution of the Derry Grand Jury and the Dunfanaghy Board of Guardians with respect to the necessity of arrangements by the Treasury to relieve the ratepayers of the tax now paid for the Letterkenny Railway; (2) do the Treasury propose to hand over any sum 384 to this company; (3) is it the fact that the company is paying a dividend of 7 per cent. on its entire system, while exacting 4d. in the pound off a congested district in Donegal; (4) can he say what security the guaranteeing baronies have as to the method of calculating earnings and charging expenses on the guaranteed part of the system under which the ratepayers are called upon to make good a deficit while other parts of the line are earning 7 per cent; (5) have the Board of Works power under the Act of 1896 to order an inquiry into these matters; (6) can he state the average earnings per mile per week of the guaranteed portion and the non-guaranteed portion of the line, with the outlay charged against each section; and (7) whether the Treasury have statutory authority to examine into the accounts of every Irish railway whether State-aided or otherwise?
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. R. W. HANBURY,) Preston
(1) I am aware of the resolution of the Dunfanaghy guardians, but not of that of the grand jury. (2) If the company referred to is the Lough Swilly Railway Company—which I believe pays a dividend of 7 per cent.—it is in contemplation to pay certain moneys to that company for the construction of the proposed new Donegal lines; but such payments have no reference to the Letterkenny line. (3) The railway company do not exact the rate of 4d. in the pound. That rate is levied under the provisions of an Act of Parliament for the purpose of paying principal and interest of a loan of £35,000 advanced by the Board of Works for the construction of the Letterkenny railway. (4) The Board of Works have power to examine—and do examine—the accounts of the Lough Swilly Railway Company, so far as regards their working of the Letterkenny line. By the agreement under which the company work that line, 34 per cent. of the gross receipts are taken by the Board of Works to pay their charges in respect of a loan of £50,000, the first of two loans which they advanced for construction of the railway. The local rates are chargeable only in respect of the second loan of £35,000. As the Board's receipts from the undertaking do not suffice to cover their charges in respect of the first loan, 385 the rates have to bear the full charge for the second loan. (5) The Act of 1896 does not apply to this railway, which was constructed under earlier private Acts. (6) The average earnings per mile per week of the guaranteed line are nearly £8. (7) No. The Board of Works has power of examination into any railway on which it has a mortgage, and the Treasury has also special powers under agreements for the construction and working of certain railways under the Acts of 1889 and 1896.