HC Deb 12 October 1915 vol 74 cc1172-3
11. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that when soldiers are crossing to Ireland by the mail boats from Holyhead or returning from Kingstown they are not allowed on board unless they pay an excess fare of 1s. 9d., and that those who are not able to do this are left behind; and whether, having regard to the restricted service that is now given between Holyhead and Dublin, the Government can arrange that the passage of soldiers shall become available by the mail boat without extra charge?


I assume that my right hon. Friend is referring to men travelling on ordinary, and not on sick furlough. Soldiers making use of the mail boats from Holyhead to Kingstown, as distinct from the ordinary boats from Holyhead to North Wall, are charged only half the extra rate which is normally in force, and are, to this extent, in a privileged position, as compared with the ordinary public. On the general question of the charges to be exacted in the case of alternative routes, I can only say that there are many alternative railway routes in Great Britain, and that I am not prepared to press for the equalisation of the fare which is normally greater with the fare which is normally less. I would add that for soldiers travelling on sick furlough with Government warrants, the higher rate has been authorised in order to avoid possible hardship, but it is, in this case, paid by the Government.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that on the North Wall, service one boat a day has been taken off, so that the men are not able to go by that route? In the circumstances, and having regard to the heavy charge which some of these men are not in a position to pay, cannot the right hon. Gentleman make representations to the company to forego the claim in the case of the mail boats?


I do not wish to meet my right hon. Friend with a negative, but I would point out to him the difficulties of the situation. He stated in his supplementary question that some of these boats had been taken off, and, therefore, if the relaxation were made in toto, as the right hon. Gentleman desires, there would undoubtedly be a great influx of passengers on the mail steamers, involving great congestion and delay in the traffic.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these boats were taken off two years before the War commenced?


I was not aware of that.

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