9. Mr. DOYLE
asked the President of the Board of Trade what action has been taken to stimulate the building of railway locomotives and wagons with a view to reducing the congestion of the various railway systems; and how many locomotives and wagons are turned out per week?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr. A. Neal)
I have been asked to answer this question. The position in regard to the construction of locomotives does not call for any special stimulus. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport dealt fully with the wagon position in his statement on Wednesday last, and I would refer the hon. Member to the Report, which is now available.
§ Sir A. YEO
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the challenge in the papers addressed to Government Departments with regard to locomotives and trucks cannot be taken up?
§ 24. Major -General Sir NEWTON MOORE
asked the Minister of Transport if, in view of the fact that the shortage of railway wagons is having a detrimental effect on the industry of the country, and that the railways are continually pressing for the delivery of wagon scantlings, some of which have been produced during the last two or three years in Australia in execution of orders already in hand for the English railways, he will impress upon the Ministry of Shipping the necessity for allocating tonnage for this purpose; whether the Australian Government have already brought before this Government the necessity that exists for securing freight for timber from Western Australia; and if he is aware that, as a result of the congested state of the saw mills and wharves, many ex-soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force previously employed in the timber industry have been unable to be put back on to their old jobs?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of SHIPPING (Colonel L. Wilson)
I have been asked to reply. Representations have been made to the Shipping Controller as to the desirability of providing tonnage for the shipment of this timber, but it is contrary to the policy 6 of the Ministry of Shipping to provide space for other than Government cargo. It is open to the shippers of this timber to charter for their requirements on the world's market.
§ Sir N. MOORE
As the Government are now controlling the railways is not the question of the shortage of wagons a matter affecting the Government Department?
§ Colonel WILSON
If representations are made to my right hon. Friend for any essential commodity every consideration will be given to them. With regard to the shipping of timber, I would suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend that he might approach the Australian authorities in order that they might consider the possibility of utilising the Commonwealth Line of steamers for this purpose.
§ 31 and 32. Mr. G. TERRELL
asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether he will agree to the appointment of an independent chartered accountant to investigate the cost of the manufacture in railway workshops of wagons referred to in his recent statement;
(2) if he will furnish particulars of his recent statement of the cost of manufacture of railway wagons in railway workshops showing against each item the total expended on materials, on labour, and the amount allowed for establishment or overhead charges, for profit, and for national taxation?
§ Mr. A. NEAL
In reply to these questions my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is prepared to appoint an independent chartered accountant to investigate the cost of manufacture of wagons, both of selected representative railway workshops and of outside wagon builders, provided the latter agree.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Will the hon. Member also have an independent accountant to examine the cost of these railway wagons which are being made in Government Departments?
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
Is it proposed to delay the transport trade of this country while these investigations are going on?
§ Brigadier-General CROFT
Will he give an undertaking that if private wagons are ordered and built they will not be pooled?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I wish to know whether an independent accountant will be appointed to examine the cost?