§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they can state the number of railway engines, wagons and other rolling stock being manufactured in this country at the present moment, and how much of this is being exported; and whether in view of the grave shortages on the railways of this country, and the serious hindrance to internal trade caused by this, it is not better to reserve what is required for our own use before continuing to export them on the present scale to foreign countries.]
§ VISCOUNT HALL
My Lords, during the year 1946 the estimated production, in railway and privately-owned shops combined, is 828 steam locomotives, 40,000 goods wagons and 933 coaches. Of these, it is estimated that 386 steam locomotives, 11,500 goods wagons and 18 coaches will be for export. Of the remaining 442 locomotives, 82 are for industrial firms and 360 for the British railways. The question how far it is practicable to divert capacity from manufacture for export to manufacture for the home railways is at present being considered.
§ THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND
We have heard very much lately of the breakdown of trains, and the hindrance to trade 628 caused by the state of the rolling stock and the poor condition of the railways, and it seems to me that the prior interest is at home, towards getting our railways into first-class condition, rather than export, which ranks high but not so high as home needs.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
The noble Duke will understand, also, the importance of the export trade. We hope there will be an increased number of locomotives and railway wagons, both for home use and for export, during the course of the next year.