HC Deb 15 November 1917 vol 99 cc554-5

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that in the Report of the Commissioners for the Crinan Canal for the year ending 30th April, 1917, and which was confirmed at the last meeting of the Commissioners, attention is called to the fact that numerous representations have reached the Commissioners as to the inadequacy of the existing canal and the need for the construction of an improved and modernised canal in substitution for it, and that attention is also called to the fact that the Commissioners have in previous Reports repeatedly called attention to the present condition of the canal, and that extensive repairs will have to be effected in the near future if the canal is to be maintained, even in its present condition, and that there is a constant and increasing risk of a breakdown which will involve the closing of the canal; and whether he will now take steps and consult with the Reconstruction Committee as to what action shall be taken to avoid this. danger and to put the canal in such a condition as to enable it to deal with modern requirements?


My right hon. Friend has requested me to reply to this question. His attention has been called to the Report in question. As my hon. Friend is aware, the Secretary for Scotland's Department is not in any direct sense responsible for the canal, and he is not one of the statutory Canal Commissioners. He has already, however, drawn the attention of the Treasury to the terms of the Report, and in any further dealings with the matter he will bear my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind.

Perhaps, as I am myself officially one of the Canal Commissioners, I ought to add, and may be permitted to add, that, with the contingencies—which, I fancy, have moved the hon. Gentleman to put this question—in mind, the Commissioners have arranged to obtain for the duration of the War a loan of some £7,500 for both the Caledonian and Crinan Canals, in order to provide against the possibility of such breakdown as the hon. Member has in mind.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the danger of the total collapse of the canal is imminent, and, under the circumstances, will not the Secretary for Scotland, and other parties interested, take an opportunity of seeing what can be done to remedy the condition of things at the earliest moment?


I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the condition of the canal has been fully under the review of the Commissioners, and that the matters to which he refers are being paid careful attention to.