§ Mr. FIELD
also asked the Vice-President whether he is aware that many serious complaints have been made respecting the delay of cattle trains, especially on the Great Southern and Western Railway; and whether he will consider the advisability of the recommendations suggested by the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division, and supported by experienced members of the Irish Cattle Traders and Stockowners' Association, that a minimum rate of speed and a compulsory insurance rate should be adopted?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
From time to time the Department have received complaints as to cattle trains being delayed on the Great Southern and Western and other Irish railways, but in almost every instance investigation has shown that the delay was due to cause outside the power of legislation to remedy. The necessity for fitting in live-stock traffic arrangements with ordinary goods and passenger traffic is a frequent cause of such delays, and it often happens that through the late arrival of animals from fairs the punctual despatch of the special trains provided for the cattle traffic becomes impracticable. Where so many unavoidable causes of delay occur it would not appear feasible without increasing the risk of accident to require cattle trains to complete their journeys within a stipulated time or to fix a minimum rate of speed for such trains. The attention of the Department has been directed on various occasions to the question of the insurance of live stock. They are not aware, however, that cattle traders are by any means unanimous in desiring to be obliged to insure their stock on railway journeys. It is understood that sufficient facilities are at present afforded for voluntary insurance, and the Department are not satisfied that compulsory insurance would serve any useful purpose or be acceptable to the trade generally.1569W
§ Mr. FIELD
further asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) (1) whether he is aware that, in most of the important stations in Great Britain where live stock is entrained or detrained, specially constructed cattle-banks are exclusively used and maintained for facilitating the carriage of animals; whether he is aware that it is inconvenient and frequently dangerous to passengers, and likewise to the passage of special trains, to allow the mixing of live stock and goods on a generally used platform; whether he will cause inquiries to be made with a view to provide a remedy; also (2) whether he is aware that in most of the stations in Great Britain specially constructed cattle-banks are provided for the exclusive use of live stock; and whether he will have inquiries made and a similar system adopted and enforced in Ireland?1570W
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Department do not possess details regarding the extent of provision in Great Britain of facilities of the kind referred to, but it would be incorrect to assume that no such facilities obtain in Ireland. Many Irish stations have loading banks provided solely for animal traffic. There are also stations where, at intervals, the traffic from large fairs overflow the recognised cattle-bank and requires the use as well of additional parts of the station. It is, however, the policy of the Department to discountenance any bank or platform being used on such occasions for other traffic concurrently with the animal traffic, and they have generally found the railway companies amenable to representations in this respect. If any specific instance be adduced where danger is considered to arise in the way indicated in the second question, the Department will have the matter duly looked into.