§ Mr. HIGHAM
asked the Minister of Transport how many railway trucks and 75W engines were taken over by the Government during the War; have these trucks and engines been returned; what was the cost to the State; is it a fact that no charge was made by the railway companies for maintenance or repairs against the Government subsidy during the time these trucks and engines were in use by the Government; and have the return of these engines and trucks been duly credited in the companies' accounts?
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The number of railway-owned wagons lent to the War Office for service overseas by British railways was just under 30,000, and of locomotives, just over 500. Of these, roughly 1,000 wagons and 58 locomotives have not yet been returned. The locomotives which have not been returned are in the Near East. The agreement made with the War Office was that the rolling stock should be maintained on service and reconditioned upon return from overseas, at the cost of the War Office, and this has been done. I think it would be impossible usefully to ascertain the cost of this work done by the varies armies abroad. The railway companies, during the time that the rolling stock and locomotives were under maintenance by the War Office, did not reduce the numbers of wagons' and engines upon which the Government was being charged for maintenance under the agreement until the formula for the year 1919 came to be approved by the Ministry of Transport, when the necessary adjustments were made by the officers of the Ministry for that year. The question of a retrospective adjustment was then raised, and in my opinion would be equitable.