Lieut.-Colonel R. PEEL
asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the serious lack of railway wagons for the transport of road-mending material in the Eastern Counties, with the result that not only are the roads in a deplorable condition of disrepair, but that unless some improvement in transport takes place in the near future stone quarries may have to be shut down, with consequent unemployment of their men; and whether he will take all possible steps to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs?
§ Mr. NEAL
Wherever possible the railway companies concerned supplement the wagons which the quarry owners provide for the conveyance of road metal for their quarries, but in the present general shortage of wagons other important traffic, such as foodstuffs, must be given preference. I cannot admit, however, that the roads generally are in a deplorable state 425W due to the cause mentioned. Work causing expenditure of over £30,000,000 in the present financial year is being rapidly pushed forward.
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the caustic soda and bleaching powder plants in Widnes of the United Alkali Company, Limited, employing from 1,500 to 2,000 men, will be shut down within a few days unless facilities are afforded for transporting lime from Buxton; whether he is aware that there are 5,000 tons of limestone waiting at Buxton which cannot be brought to Widnes in consequence of the lack of wagons; and whether he can take special action in this case in order to prevent the enforced unemployment of so many men?
§ Mr. NEAL
Wagons for limestone are provided by quarry owners, but whenever possible the railway company have in the past supplemented the supply and will continue to do so. I understand that the United Alkali Company's reason for requiring additional wagons now is due to the fact that they relinquished last July seventy-five wagons which they had on hire.