HC Deb 19 March 1906 vol 154 cc89-91

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can say in what position the proposed motor car service in the rural districts of Ireland now is; and whether he will say if this scheme can be carried out, in view of the use which might be made of it to bring fish and other products to market.


I presume the hon. Member refers to a scheme for motor-car services in Ireland which was proposed some three years ago by Lord Iveagh and Mr. Pirrie. His Majesty's present Government have had no part in the matter, but it may be desirable that I should state briefly, for the information of the House, what appears to have taken place while the late Government were in office. I gather that the late Government gave their cordial support to the scheme, and did everything in their power to bring about co-operation between the promoters and the county councils in giving effect to the scheme. The promoters provisionally selected seventeen routes for motor car services, and these were surveyed at the instance of the Government. It was a condition of the original scheme that the roads should be put into a state to bear the heavy motor traffic, the combined weight of motor and trailer being 5½ tons. The county councils generally, while approving of the experimental service, declined to incur the expenditure necessary for putting the roads into proper condition, though the Local Government Board expressed its willingness to make loans for the purpose. I am informed that Lord Iveagh and Mr. Pirrie eventually announced that they would give the county councils a year to consider what could be done, but intimated that the scheme must be dealt with as a whole, and that they were not prepared to set it on foot in those localities only in which its prospects of success were least favourable. It is a matter of regret to find that the year allowed for consideration has passed, and that nothing further appears to have been done by the county councils. His Majesty's present Government would gladly do everything that might be possible to further the philanthropic scheme proposed by these gentlemen if its revival should in any way be brought about; but the question of reopening negotiations with Lord Iveagh and Mr. Pirrie is obviously one for the county councils to consider.


When this scheme was first started, was any condition as to improving the roads attached to it?


I take it that as soon as the scheme took a tangible form, it was found necessary to ask county councils to put the roads in a proper condition.