§ Mr. KELLY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps have been taken to remedy the mismanagement of the Burtonport Extension Railway, a railway built and equipped by public moneys; whether much of the irregularity is due to the insufficiency and defects of the working company's engines; whether the Irish Railway Committee have had before them any proposals to deal with the situation so as to ensure sufficient engine-power and rolling stock; and, if so, when may the people expect an improvement in the service?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I believe that the matter has already been brought before the Irish Railway Executive Committee by the Irish Board of Works, and I am asking the Committee for a report.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The Burtonport Railway is worked, managed, and maintained by the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company under an agreement1010W with the Treasury under the Railways Act, 1896. The Commissioners have had many and serious grounds for complaint of the mismanagement of the line by the company, and in the year 1915 had to take legal proceedings against it. The Commissioners after very careful consideration came to the conclusion that the application of the powers given to them by the Act of 1896 would not satisfactorily meet the causes of complaint which seem inseparable from the present administration of the Lough Swilly Company. The present highly unsatisfactory condition of affairs on the Burtonport Railway is due to the mismanagement of the Lough Swilly Railway Company, and particularly to their neglect even before the War (1) to keep the locomotive stock in proper working order, and (2) to maintain an adequate and efficient staff. In May last the Commissioners in consequence of complaints sent their engineer to inspect the locomotive stock, and upon his report the company were called upon to put the stock into repair. Owing to the neglect of the company to keep up its supply of materials and a proper staff, it was unable to do the work itself, and engineering firms to which it applied being "under control" were unable to do the work without the consent of the Ministry of Munitions. An application, in which the Commissioners joined, was made to the Ministry without success. The Commissioners understand that the Executive Committee, who have been made acquainted with the facts, has on the urgent request of the company recommended the Ministry of Munitions to agree to the supply of a repairing staff. Till the result of this application is known it cannot be said when an improvement will take place, but meanwhile the Commissioners have taken steps with a view to securing that at any rate the line shall be kept open.