§ MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, notwithstanding the reports of General Hutchinson and Major Marindin as to the condition of the towing paths of the Royal Canal, Ireland, the Midland Railway Company, who are the owners of the canal, have not taken any steps to put them in proper repair; is he aware that the waterway has again lapsed into a very bad condition, being in many places choked with weeds, and the levels not maintained, thereby causing great loss to the bye-traders by delay of boats, the journey of a boat, carrying an ordinary load and fully horsed, taking fifty-six hours to travel from Dublin to Mullingar, a distance of fifty-two English miles, and from Dublin to Kilcock, a distance of fifteen miles, twenty-three hours; and whether, owing to the persistent neglect of the railway company to keep this canal in a proper navigable condition, he will call on the Irish Board of Works to carry out the necessary repairs and appropriate from the fund held by them as security for the proper maintenance of the canal by the railway company a sum sufficient to cover the cost of same.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HANBURY,) (for Mr. RITCHIE) Preston
No, Sir. When the canal was inspected by the Assistant Engineer of the Board of Works 378 in June, and again in September last, it was found that the towing-paths were generally in good order, that the canal was comparatively free from weeds, and that the depth of water also was generally good (varying from 5½ft. to 6½ft. in the centre, and from 5ft. to 4½ft. at the sides). Dredging was, however, required in certain parts of the canal. Since General Hutchinson's report in 1894 the company have renewed thirty-two pairs of lock gates and dredged thirteen miles of the seventeenth level of the canal. They have undertaken that all the requirements of the Board will receive attention; and there is no likelihood that it will be necessary to use the statutory powers possessed by the Board. At the same time, the progress of the operations will be carefully watched by the Commissioners, to whom a quarterly report is made by the company.