§ Mr. DEVLIN
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state what is the present position with regard to the proposed increase of railway rates in Ireland; and whether, before the sanction of the Railway and Canal Commissioners is given to the proposed increase, steps will be taken to secure that the salaries and wages of the railway employés are improved in proportion to the proposed increase?
In certain cases formal complaint has been made to the Board of Trade under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894, and the replies of the railway companies concerned have been forwarded to the complainants, but the Department have not yet been asked to issue a certificate to enable any of these cases to be taken before the Railway and Canal Commissioners. The case of the Great Southern and Western Company, who have to obtain the sanction of the Commissioners before increasing their rates, is at present before the Court. In the event of an increase being challenged before the Commissioners, it lies upon the company concerned to prove that the increase is reasonable, but I can give no opinion as to the circumstances which the Court may think it necessary to take into account in arriving at their decision. As my hon. Friend is aware, the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1913, does not apply to Ireland.