70. Captain TERRELL
asked the Minister of Transport what steps, if any, he has taken to provide for agriculture an improved system of transport since he has taken office, with special reference to the feasibility of employing ex-army motor lorries and ex-army light railways as promised by the Prime Minister during the last General Election?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr. A. Neal)
It must be remembered that the Ministry of Transport has no funds at present from which to assist in the provision of improved transport facilities. A sum is provided for this purpose in the Estimates for 1920–1921, which will shortly come before this House. The limited amount which will be available for grants or loans for development purposes make it essential that only those schemes should be supported at the present time which the Ministry of Agriculture endorse as 570 being urgently required, and which show a reasonable prospect of proving remunerative ultimately. To arrive at a priority classification and an estimated balance-sheet in connection with such a large number of proposals is necessarily a matter which requires minute investigation. This work is proceeding in close consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture. As regards ex-service lorries and light railway material—these are in the hands of the Disposal Board and are available for purchase by promoters of transport undertakings.
§ Mr. BILLING
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the reason they are not being purchased is to be found in the new taxation? Does he consider he is assisting agricultural transport by recommending heavy taxation on motor transport?