§ LORD MONKSWELL rose to inquire whether the technical and administrative development of British railways is included in His Majesty's Government's planning for the post-war period; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, His Majesty's Government have lately issued a White Paper giving particulars of a financial agreement which they have made with the railways of this country. Under this agreement the Government have taken over a large amount of responsibility for railway finance. At the same time we are told that the Government are planning for increased national efficiency in all directions during the post-war period, and I hope your Lordships will allow me to take the opportunity of saying a few words on the dependence of railway finance upon railway efficiency and the importance of including railways within the scope of the planning arrangements. I have on previous occasions put before you matters bearing on railway efficiency and railway finance when the Government were not directly interested. Now that the Government have taken over responsibility for railway finance—a responsibility that they will obviously have to continue for some time after the war, if not permanently—they automatically become directly interested in railway efficiency.
§ When I raised this matter a year or two ago in another connexion, I was told that the Government proposed to do nothing about it. They then appeared to take the rather strange view that they were not interested. I can hardly suppose that they are still of that opinion. I do not wish to criticize the proposals of the Government for tiding over the war period which, in view of the chaotic conditions into which railway finance has been allowed to drift, appear to me to be as good a practical arrangement as could be expected, but I 216 wish to call attention to what seems to me the need for the Government at once to take in hand the question of what should be done after the war. The difficulties which we are now experiencing in regard to railway finance are the climax of the series of muddles that had their origin in very early days, and in order that present day conditions may be properly understood it is necessary to say a few words about the past.
§ The invention of railways produced such a completely new set of conditions that this country in particular, being as it was the country where railways were first introduced, and being therefore unable to profit from the experience of other countries, failed to make proper arrangements for the future. The first bad mistake was made when failure to appreciate the scale of future requirements led to the adoption of a too narrow gauge of the rails, with—far more important—insufficient breadth and head room. The consequence is that British railways have never been so economical to work as they would have been if they had been built to enlarged dimensions. An even more serious trouble was the absence of competition. From the beginning railways showed themselves so far superior to any other form of inland transport that no competition was possible. In these circumstances there quickly grew up a race of railway officials whose dominant idea was to secure for themselves a quiet life, with the least possible amount of change and development. They succeeded so well that, though it cannot be said that development ceased altogether, its pace for fully eighty years was so desperately slow that all sorts of unfortunate results followed.
§ One in particular that has led to endless trouble of the acutest kind was that the railway servants did not get the improved equipment which should have made the work of each man more efficient and more productive, and should have justified higher wages. The only real justification for higher wages is, of course, more efficient and productive work; any rise secured otherwise merely means that somebody else must pay. It is into this economic morass that the failure of the railway managements to make reasonable progress has plunged the railways. During their long period of stagnation the railway managements behaved as if the conditions which existed in the middle of the nineteenth century were going to last for ever. 217 Moderate dividends were easily earned, so the shareholders gave no trouble; labour was cheap and the railway servants were mostly unorganized, and so gave equally little trouble. Heavy industrial freights were subsidized by means of high charges on high-class merchandise, and so the principal customers of the railways were kept quiet. In this way the crazy structure remained standing till the early years of the twentieth century, when trade union organization among the railway servants began to make serious inroads on railway finance, and soon made the payment of dividends on the junior stocks extremely precarious.
§ It is at the present time undesirable to open a contentious subject, so I will merely say that in view of this action by trade unions the railway shareholders were extremely badly served by the managements, who failed to organize them for their own protection or to give them any bargaining power. The only attempt to do anything at all was that of Mr. William Whitelaw who, so far as I can remember, as Chairman of the Highland Railway, at a general meeting at Inverness invited his shareholders to pay voluntary subscriptions for the protection of their own interests. Your Lordships may think that to ask a Scottish meeting to subscribe a large sum of money for a vaguely specified object was hardly the way to launch a serious campaign. Anyhow Mr. White-law's idea came to nothing. Nothing was done, and the shareholders, whose thrift had made the building of railways possible, were left in the lurch. Neither was anything adequate done for many years to improve the efficiency of the railways, and things went from bad to worse, usually at the expense of the shareholders. Finally, some ten years before the present war began things got so bad that the railway managements appear to have woken up, the old inertia largely disappeared, and a whole series of great improvements was made. Most of these, which comprise improvements to permanent way, engines, signals, and passenger and goods services might just as easily have been put in hand in 1850. Though progress for the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the present war was in most, though not in all, directions satisfactory, it has been impossible in ten years to make up for the neglect of eighty years, and railway finance is still in a state of chaos.218
§ The question of the financial interests of the shareholders is one that deserves the closest and most sympathetic consideration. Here are a large band of citizens whose own, or whose predecessors', thrift has provided the country with a vital public service and one which, so far from being over-capitalized, possesses assets which, at present-day prices, could not be replaced for twice the nominal capital. These unhappy people have been singled out to bear losses from which the shareholders in most other public services are immune. As regards technical efficiency, the railways were attending to this matter themselves fairly satisfactorily in the years immediately before the present war, and so long as this continues little interference is necessary, but it is important to see that the railways really attend to it, and not to forget the eighty largely wasted years from the middle of last century which are responsible for the difficulties in which the railways now find themselves. While the war lasts we must get along the best way we can with our existing equipment, and must make the best temporary arrangements we can to meet the situation with which we are confronted. No large-scale development is possible. But, sooner or later, the war will come to an end, and something will have to be done about the railways, both as regards the financial interests of the shareholders and also the technical efficiency of the railways themselves. Neither of these matters is much affected by the question of nationalization. At the present time the railway shareholders have lost all control of their property. The only parties who have any influence are the Government, the railway officials, and the trade unions, and, short of some great political upheaval, this is likely to remain the case whether the railways are nationalized or not.
§ It is easy to find matters which lend themselves to planning. One of the worst defects of British railways has always been their neglect of punctuality. Unpunctuality is by no means a mild and unimportant fault. While it has been the cause of many bad accidents, it is also most wasteful both of time and labour. I need not emphasize this; it is obvious to your Lordships. But, for some inscrutable reason, the railways have always been terrified of issuing to their men any clear 219 printed instructions about making up lost time. Most big European railways do issue clearly-defined, printed instructions so that their men know exactly where they are and what is expected of them. The electrification of surface railways is a matter that would repay very close investigation. Many competent critics believe it to be a serious mistake, and there are no figures available to the public to do anything to dispel this belief. In fact, the incompleteness of the figures that have been given, and the omission of all information that would allow a balanced judgment to be reached, are reminiscent of nothing so much as of the methods of Dr. Goebbels.
Then there is a matter to which I have already alluded. Railway goods and mineral rates are based on the principle of subsidy. Heavy industrial freights are charged less than the cost of their transport, and the difference is made up by charging high-class merchandise much more than the cost of its transport. So long as there was no road competition, this vicious system could be made to work, but since road transport has become an accomplished fact the railway interests raise a bitter cry that the high-class stuff is all being sent by road, and that the subsidy on which they rely is being torn from them. I suggest that it would be much more honest and satisfactory to charge all freights the approximate cost of carriage, and to make no attempt to differentiate. In my view this country is in serious danger of dying of subsidies.
§ There is much to be done in the way of improving the steam locomotive. It will not be far wrong to put the average of useful work performed by all the locomotives in this country at something between 5 and 6 per cent. of the power set free by the complete combustion of the fuel used. A number of simple improvements has made it possible to build engines that will return 11 per cent.—that is to say, they do double the work for each unit of fuel burned. The coal burned by all the engines in this country in the course of a year is about 13,000,000 tons. I do not suggest that this could be halved, because the engines which return 11 per cent. are no doubt in a better state of repair than the average engine in this country, but I think that to save a quarter is well within the range of possibility. That would 220 economize more than 3,000,000 tons of coal, costing, I suppose, about £3,000,000. Ever since railways were introduced there has been trouble with the rail-joints. Every wheel in every train receives a jolt as it passes from each length of rail to the next. It is gradually becoming apparent that this defect can be overcome. Longer and longer rail-lengths have been laid down, with a corresponding reduction in the number of joints and, rather surprisingly, it was found that the intervals left for expansion need not be lengthened as the rail was lengthened. Really solid and strong permanent way, with the rails firmly attached to the sleepers, seems to have such a grip of the rails that their tendency to expand with heat can be overcome, and very long continuous lengths can be secured by welding. This major improvement has not yet proceeded far, but it should be energetically pursued and planned for.
§ As I have already remarked, I am glad to say that some at least of these and kindred matters are already receiving attention from the railways, but there is plenty left that lends itself to large-scale planning, and great reason to suppose that energetic and instructed supervision would do much to keep the railways up to the mark. Whether or not the railways are nationalized, financial results will depend upon technical and administrative efficiency. This efficiency has in the past been allowed to lapse, with disastrous results upon railway finance, and I hope the Government will be able to assure us that they are now making plans for continuously developing the efficiency of the railways after the war, or for ensuring that the railways will do it for themselves. I beg to move.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I always look forward to debates in your Lordships' House when the noble Lord is going to speak because he never fails to produce a speech of interest, with criticisms which at all events deserve attention. I am never quite sure whether the noble Lord is to be classed as a friendly or a hostile critic. On this occasion I like to think that in spite of a tinge of acerbity which crept into his remarks from time to time he still is a friendly critic. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." That is certainly true of the noble Lord opposite. The points which he has brought to the attention of your Lord- 221 ships are of very great interest. I venture to say that they are really more technical than administrative, but be they in one or other of these categories they do deserve and are receiving, if I may say so, close and continuous attention.
Before I turn to the wider aspect of what I conceive to be included in the term "planning" which my noble friend opposite really, to my way of thinking, did not touch upon at all, I would like to refer to one or two of the points which my noble friend has made but which, in relation to the wider aspects of planning are, if I may say so, of comparatively small importance. The noble Lord told us that from 1850 to 1930 the railways were all sound asleep. He also committed himself to the view, which I think was a little bold, that all the improvements to which he is glad to pay tribute which have been made in the last ten years could equally have been made in 1850.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
1850 is a date when I suppose the grandfathers of many of your Lordships were celebrating with great family rejoicings the births of the fathers of many of your Lordships. It is a good long time ago, and to take one development of modern science alone, electrical science, I suppose it was non-existent in 1850. How much of our technical improvements to-day could have been carried out without the development of electrical science? The noble Lord said that the railways in the beginning suffered from two very great defects: firstly, that they were unable to profit by the experiences of others; and secondly, that a race of railway officials had grown up who thought of nothing but a quiet time for themselves. As to the first point, the noble Lord is right, but that clearly is the penalty of the railways in this country having been pioneers. I do not think the noble Lord can deny that. It Is perfectly true that it would have been much easier for the British railways to have developed satisfactorily if they had had greater breadth and headroom, but the mere fact that these handicaps are imposed upon them are, I think it must be admitted, handicaps arising from their having been pioneers.
As to the inertia of which railways are accused, I would be the last to deny that when the railways had a complete 222 monopoly they did suffer from the defects of monopoly and there was sometimes a lack of enterprise which was regrettable. But that, I think, may be usefully reflected upon when we consider what the state of affairs would be if the railways were once again turned into a complete monopoly in the hands of the State. The noble Lord made some reference to nationalization, and I do not know whether he thinks that nationalization of the railways as a State enterprise would contribute to efficiency. I do not suppose he does, but, if not, it is because you would be returning to those days of monopoly to which he has alluded, not perhaps quite fairly, but with some degree at all events of justification.
I now turn to some of the specific points which the noble Lord made. He talked of punctuality. Perhaps I need hardly say that the importance of punctuality is a point which has occurred from time to time to railway managements, and I think it is fair to say that the greatest enemies of punctuality are frost and snow and fog and other natural difficulties of that kind. The noble Lord complained that there were no clear instructions about making up time. There is a very important factor which enters into that and that is the safety factor. You cannot give instructions to men about making up time without very great regard to the speeds which must not be exceeded. But I am not belittling in any way the importance of punctuality. Punctuality is, of course, essential and it is the constant endeavour of railways to achieve it. I shall say a word or two later as to why I do not think that nationalization or another system of railway management would secure greater efficiency than the present one, and punctuality is a test of efficiency.
Electrification. I agree with my noble friend that main line electrification is a thing which would have to be proceeded with with great caution. It depends on the density of the traffic. The Southern Railway is the main example of electrification at the present time, and the system of the Southern Railway is peculiarly suited for that. The most important main line electrification which was contemplated and was about to be put into effect before the war was the stretch of line on the London and North Eastern Railway between Manchester and Sheffield, and that was about to be commenced when war 223 broke out. The work has been suspended, but the delay has not been altogether useless, because there has been constructed during these years one of the type of electric locomotives which was considered to be most suitable for the work, and it is only within the last week or two—your Lordships may have seen a reference to it in the Press—that it has been tested out under working conditions and has been found to be satisfactory. The delay, however, will give a chance for every possible improvement to be incorporated. That particular stretch of main line is particularly suited for electrification for reasons with which I will not weary your Lordships.
Now as to rates. The noble Lord spoke eloquently of what he called "this vicious system" as though it was a vice which resided in the railway managements. This vicious system, as the noble Lord calls it, was imposed upon the railways by Parliament when they were a monopoly, and, of course, the advent of the road traffic has rendered this system the very thing which the railways were trying to get rid of and urgently asking to be relieved of in what was known as the square-deal campaign. The noble Lord who will reply may have something to say about that, but I quite agree that under present conditions that system ought to be modified.
The noble Lord also talked about the efficiency of steam locomotives and he said that the average efficiency in this country was something like 5 or 6 per cent. I think he is putting it a little low. I have not the figures with me, and I can only say that my impression is that we obtain a better efficiency than that but not the efficiency of 11 per cent., which he states has been attained elsewhere. I should like to know where, and I am quite sure the chief engineer of my railway and the chief engineers of the other railways would be very much interested to have particulars from the noble Lord of a steam locomotive working to 11 per cent. of efficiency. Illustrating the desires and achievements of the railways I should like to tell your Lordships that at the time the war began work was proceeding at the cost of a very large sum of money—something running into hundreds of thousands of pounds—on a locomotive testing plant which was being established jointly by the London, Mid- 224 land and Scottish Railway and the London and North Eastern Railway which would undoubtedly have tended greatly in the direction which the noble Lord wants. I mention that to show that the railways are alive to that problem and are doing the best they can to overcome it.
The noble Lord's last technical point had to do with the elimination of rail joints and he spoke, I think, perhaps, if I may say so, a little bit in advance of practical achievement. Railway joints, of course, are necessary, as the noble Lord told your Lordships, to provide for expansion, and interesting experiments have been made. I have seen something of them by the London Passenger Transport Board who have already laid lengths of, I think, 300 feet. Of course in the Underground Railways conditions of temperature are more equable and therefore there is not the same danger arising from expansion as there would be when railways are out on the surface. That is a matter which is being examined and pursued, and I would like to tell your Lordships—because it interested me when I saw it—how flexible a length of steel rail of 300 feet is. I have seen a length of 300 feet of rail capable of going round curves like a snake. It was quite astonishing to see the flexibility of heavy standard rails. Another point in connexion with the question of rails is a portable lifting plant which now is available and through the use of which the railways have been able to use much longer rails. Standard rails run up to 120 feet now, compared I think with the normal length of 60 feet. The weight of these rails is formidable. Your Lordships may be surprised to know that the weight of a standard rail is 95 lbs. per yard. Therefore the invention of this portable lifting machine is of great value when you are seeking continuity of rails and consequent smoothness of track.
I do not want to weary your Lordships with further matters of a technical character. I desire only to say enough to try and convince your Lordships that, however deep the sleep of the railways may have been in the last century, some of them, at all events, are nowadays awake. Before I leave that aspect of the subject, however, I would like to give your Lordships one figure to show the extent of the capital expenditure which has been incurred by the railways on im- 225 provements in the ten years from 1928 to 1938. The total expenditure on improvements during those ten years amounted to no less than £260,000,000. The total capital expenditure of all railways was £1,175,000,000, so that expenditure of £260,000,000 on improvements of all sorts derived both from capital and revenue is, I think, striking proof of the efficiency of the railways and their desire to secure further efficiency by every possible means.
I turn to the aspect of the noble Lord's Motion which I can hardly say principally interests me but is of very great interest, his reference to planning. As I understand it, planning must have reference to very much wider considerations than these technical points, of great interest as they are, to which the noble Lord referred. Your Lordships had a debate about planning and reconstruction only a few days ago. Physical reconstruction, which would be largely concerned with the railways, falls within the brief of the noble Lord, Lord Reith, who is charged with devising machinery for physical reconstruction, but at the same time the reform and reorganization of railways is of such importance from the economic point of view that quite clearly, to a large extent, it must fall within the field over which the Minister without Portfolio, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, presides. Here I would like to say to the Government that it would be of great interest to all of us if we could he told, in the widest sense, what the Government are thinking and intending to do about the planning of the railways. The noble Lord referred to the possibility of nationalization. Nationalization is a term capable of many interpretations but taking it in its simplest sense, which I suppose is purchase by the State from the shareholders of the railway undertakings, I imagine it can be said, without controversy, that nationalization in that sense to-day is as dead as the dodo.
I say that for this reason, that no Government of whatever composition could, I suppose, possibly contemplate State purchase of the railways alone, leaving the railways open to unfettered competition by road transport. Plainly if the Government are going to buy the railways, they will also have to buy road transport as well. If the Government are going to buy the railways and road transport, can they leave out the great develop- 226 ment of the future which is bound to take place; that is, air transport? And can they leave out coast-wise shipping which competes with the railways, and can they leave out transport on the canals? Are they to contemplate buying in one gigantic operation the whole of these different methods of transport? What an octopus would be created and how the imagination boggles at the endeavour to produce efficiency in administering such an immense business.
I hope the Government will think once, twice and three times, before they feel quite sure that they have invented a method of railway administration which will be more efficient than that which we have already. I am inclined to think that the largest of our railway companies are somewhere near the limit of size and undertaking by which efficiency can easily be secured. Speaking from memory, I think there are something over 200,000 employees on the London Midland and Scottish Railway and a number not far under that on the London and North Eastern Railway. The total personnel of all the railways, I think I am right in saying, is over 550,000. The annual wage bill of the railways amounts to £123,000,000. These are colossal figures and the task of administering even the railways as one unit would, I feel sure, be beyond the capacity of, let us say, ordinary business people and certainly beyond the capacity of civil servants seated in Whitehall.
The administration of a great railway, with a number of employees of the order that I have mentioned, is a very complex matter. The present method of administration by means of boards of directors has often come under violent, not to say virulent criticism, but having seen something of it from the inside I am inclined to think it is a very efficient method of carrying on such a great business undertaking. You have a board composed of men chosen not for their knowledge of railways but chosen for their knowledge of general business. Some of them perhaps are heads of other great businesses with an intimate knowledge of the business with which they are concerned. You have very efficient general managers and you have a board divided into committees dealing with such things as traffic, organization, works, stores, descending to other matters such as property, hotels and 227 so on. To each of these committees come the officials of the railway; men who have risen from the ranks, men of supreme capacity, all intent to prove to their relative committees that that which they have to suggest is in the interests of efficiency. There is a considerable spirit of emulation not only between one committee and another but between one railway and another, and that spirit of emulation is a thing which, somehow or other, we must preserve if efficiency is to be maintained. They are colossal undertakings, each one of these great railways of ours, and I claim for them that at present a very high degree of efficiency is being achieved.
The present state of affairs is, of course, that the operation of the railways and their control are a Government responsibility. The Government give their orders through the Railway Executive Committee; the day-to-day administration is still carried on by the managements under the boards, and the boards, if I may say so, still have a very useful function to perform. The railways are doing their best, but I have already detained your Lordships long enough and it is not the time now to speak of what the railways have achieved. Perhaps, however, I may be allowed to deal with one other point which occurs to me. The noble Lord said that the railways woke up about 1928. What happened was that the railways were under Government management during the last war. They were handed back to the companies with tremendous arrears of maintenance to make up. They were handed back in a shocking state. But by about 1925 something like order had been restored and it was possible for the railways to look more towards the future. The noble Lord says that they woke up. They did not wake up, they emerged from the difficulties in which war circumstances had landed them. I am not blaming the Government, they had to carry on the war then, and they have to carry on the war now.
This final plea I would make to your Lordships. If, during the coming winter, some of you have difficulty in obtaining a sleeper, do not assume that it is the fault of the Government, of the boards of directors or of the management. Please remember that by the sacrifice which is imposed on you, you may be instrumental in getting, perhaps, one extra 228 truck of coal to some munition factory where its arrival is of vital importance. I hope that a thought such as that may be some slight consolation to your Lordships for any discomforts which you may have to endure. I have perhaps gone rather wide of the noble Lord's Motion, but I do thank him for having brought this matter forward. I trust that the noble Lord who is going to reply will be able to answer the points which have been raised in the widest possible sense, and will be able to give us a feeling of assurance that, in the midst of all the innumerable activities of the war, the Government have not overlooked the essential part which the railways have to play in the future economic development of this country, and are prepared now to devote proper attention to the planning of the whole of the transport system of this country.
§ THE MINISTER OF WAR TRANSPORT (LORD LEATHERS)
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord who raised this important question. I feel that his speech was full of interest and I have listened to it, as indeed I have listened also to the very interesting and helpful contribution by the last speaker, very carefully indeed. As your Lordships will know, Lord Monkswell is an expert in the matter of railways. For myself I have been able to give, in more recent months, an intensive study to railway operation in the present war conditions. But I must confess that I am lacking very largely in knowledge of much of the history which Lord Monkswell has studied so exhaustively and knows so well. The Motion relates, primarily, I think, to post-war planning; planning for the efficient and proper development of our railways. Such a subject, I assure you, has the most intense interest and consideration of His Majesty's Government. Railway transport, however, cannot be considered by itself alone. The consideration of all forms and methods of transport will be involved, and, as I see it, these are so closely interlinked that they must be considered together. I would here say that Lord Monkswell has been aware of this, because he says that the rate structure which has been built up over many years will have to undergo a change in view of the development of road transport. All these things are interlinked and amongst the many post-war subjects which will 229 receive the consideration of His Majesty's Government, inland transport will be one of the most important. As your Lordships know, in recent months we have arrived at a new agreement with the four main line railway companies and with the London Passenger Transport Board. Under this new agreement the Government's control of these undertakings will continue for at least one year after the end of hostilities, and I think this period will afford the time we shall need to consider and examine in every way this very important problem of inland transport in all its aspects.
During the war the primary and pressing concern is to secure from the railways and from all forms of inland transport the greatest possible effort of which they are capable in order to cope with the increasing traffics essential to the war effort. I am not qualified to judge whether or not railway progress in those earlier years was slow. My task and the noble Lord's Motion are both concerned with the future, but it is only fair to say that the railways and their workers have achieved most creditable results since the outbreak of war, and there is good reason to think that in spite of all adverse conditions they will do yet more in a total effort to deliver the goods. It would take up a great deal of your Lordships' time if I were to recite the progress made in new works and marshalling yards, in new types of locomotives and in many other ways under the Railways (Agreement) Act of 1935. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, has given us the benefit of certain information in this respect, and I do not think it would be useful to recite it again; it may suffice to say that under this Act the main-line railways expended over £16,000,000 up to September, 1939, and over the same period the London Passenger Transport Board expended some £23,000,000. This new work was in execution of schemes for speeding up traffic and generally improving railway facilities in the country. With the changes brought about by the incidence of war production, other developments have been called for, and a large amount of work has been carried out during the period of Government control so as to achieve a greater throughput of traffic, particularly in certain areas where, by reason of these changes, exceptionally heavy traffics have had to be handled.
230 I should like to say a word about the question of electrification. It is a technical matter, but I am satisfied that in the suburban areas of London and of other great cities it would have been impossible to cope with the enormous volume of passenger traffic had we not been able to make use of electrification, with its speedier acceleration and with the power which it gives us to pass through tunnels a much more frequent service of trains. There is a great deal to be said in favour of electrification from those points of view, but no one has yet been able to come to a decision as to electrification which goes beyond the needs of suburban traffic.
I should like to conclude my remarks by assuring the noble Lord that, while the immediate tasks of war occupy our first attention, much thought is being given to the problem of post-war reconstruction and progress on the railways. In this connexion, I am in touch with the Minister without Portfolio, who has general responsibility for post-war planning. I will convey to the appropriate quarters the suggestions which the noble Lords, Lord Monkswell and Lord Balfour of Burleigh, have been good enough to make, and I know that, in view of the source from which they come, they will receive attention and the utmost care.
My Lords, I must first of all thank the noble Lord for the sympathetic reply which he has made. I am glad to hear that the Government are taking this question of railway development into consideration—I take that to be the sense of what the noble Lord has said. Although he did not go very much into detail, I trust that the various points which I have ventured to bring forward will be gone into rather closely before the war comes to an end, so that we shall be ready to start work on these matters immediately after the war.
My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh wished to give my Motion a much wider scope than I gave it. I followed his remarks with the greatest interest. There are, of course, many matters on which he and I do not see entirely eye to eye, but I do not think that it is necessary for me to go into them, as I do not think that 231 they would be of sufficient interest to your Lordships. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.