asked the Minister of Transport whether, as recently stated in the Press, owing to the action of his Department the shareholders of the North British Railway Company are being deprived of their dividends; and, if so, whether he will lay the Papers relating to the matter upon the Table of the House for the information of Members?
§ Mr. NEAL
The claims of the railway companies for the month of December in certain cases showed excess expenditure as compared with the standard which seemed to require justification, and a round sum of £1,000,000 was accordingly deducted from the aggregate claim pending investigation. The company chiefly322W mendation to mercy, and on how many occasions the death penalty has been inflicted, notwithstanding the jury's recommendation?
§ Sir J. BAIRD
The figures are as follow:— affected was the North British Railway, whose claim was reduced by £430,000. As this company has spent on maintenance of rolling stock sums largely in excess of the standard year after making full allowance for increased costs of wages and materials, the Minister was unable to approve payment of the December claim in full pending thorough investigation, which is now in progress, and he considers that he would have been wanting in his duty to Parliament and the taxpayer if he had done otherwise. I understand that the company have announced their intention of deferring payment of the dividends declared on certain stocks, but I do not admit that this course is necessitated by the action of the Minister. The company has filed an application in the Court of the Railway and Canal Commission. In view of 323W the public attention which the company's announcement has attracted I will arrange to lay Papers, as my right hon. Friend requests.