§ Mr. SWAN
asked the Prime Minister whether, in considering schemes of employment for those out of work to be undertaken during the autumn and winter, the Cabinet has had any reports from the Board of Trade or the Ministry of Transport or from the local authorities in Weardale and Teesdale, County Durham, recommending the construction of railways in the two Dales, thus linking up four dead-ends, i.e., from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Alston and from Wearhead to Allenhead; and whether he is aware that this would be a great saving in cost of transit and reduce in many parts the cost of production, find useful work for hundreds of men who have been out of work and in receipt of either unemployment pay or Poor Law relief, and it would also open up large avenues of future useful work in making mineral areas accessible and also land for cultivation?
§ Mr. NEAL
I have been asked to reply. No recent report has been made on the suggested light railways from Middleton to Alston and from Wearhead to Allenhead. The Middleton-Alston proposal was fully examined in 1920 by the Ministry of Transport in consultation with the other Government Departments interested in the provision of new or improved transport facilities to meet the needs of agriculture, housing and industry. The information which was obtained as to the probable agricultural and industrial traffic did not compare favourably with many other similar schemes in other parts of the country, and it appeared that there was only one small area in the neighbourhood of Middleton where there would be any considerable traffic to a light railway. No definite scheme for the Weardale-Allendale railway has been submitted, but while I am unable, in the absence of a definite scheme, to express a final opinion, it appears on the information at my disposal that the nature of the country presents such engineering difficulties that the cost of construction would be too high to permit of the undertaking proving remunerative.