HC Deb 04 March 1920 vol 126 cc777-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10,565, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for payments under The Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, &c, The Railways (Ireland) Act, 1896, The Marine Works (Ireland) Act, 1902, and for other purposes connected with Irish railways.

Colonel NEWMAN

Is the Arigna Railway now completed?


I see this Arigna Railway is put down as a special railway undertaking, and I should like to know whether it is carried out by the Minister of Transport under the special duties conferred upon him?


This undertaking has been authorised by Parliament, and the only question here is the amount required to complete the work.


With great respect, there was £9,000 granted by Parliament for boring for coal at Lough Neagh. I should like to know whether the borings are successful, and whether this money is necessary for these new coal mines?


This is a matter of completing a work already authorised.


On a point of Order. Is my hon. Friend not entitled to be told where Arigna is? The Secretary of the Treasury apparently does not know and has been asking the Home Secretary.


The hon. Member should have learned that piece of geography last year.


What I want to know is where is the coal mine. We ought to have some information.


The hon. Gentleman who rose first has not been sufficiently long in this House to realise that this is an old friend, and that the original Estimate has been exceeded, which is the cause of this Vote. The reason for that excess I shall have great pleasure in laying before the Committee. It is partly owing to the abnormally wet weather in the winter of 1918–19 which delayed the work very much, and made it much more difficult to lay the permanent way, and to get materials to the spot. The work has met with a good many unforeseen difficulties in procuring the ballast, and the amount that is required to complete will also help to make additional sidings and loading banks. There is a small item of £2,000 put in for this reason, that when the railway is finished it is going to be inspected by the Inspector of the Ministry of Transport, and the £2,000 is required in the event of the Ministry of Transport making fresh demands on the contractors for supplying additional signals or anything that they may think necessary for the safety of the line. During the War it was considered essential to get on with this work.


The hon. Gentleman himself is now going beyond the question.


I would like to ask, with reference to this £2,000, whether a proper standard gauge will be utilised not only for the convenience of the coal mine but for proper development of the railway system? Will this money be utilised for that purpose? Secondly, will the money be utilised for signals and necessary things essential to a railway system?


It is a mineral railway pure and simple.