Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Ways and Communications.

– in the House of Commons on 5th March 1919.

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Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

50.

asked whether the Cabinet has made any estimate of the cost of the proposed new Ministry of Ways and Communications; and, if so, what is the amount?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

Without the full consideration and investigation contemplated in the Bill during the period of two years of continued control, it is impossible to estimate the cost of the new Ministry. The exact numbers of the staff to be transferred from other Departments can only be laid down when the Bill has become an Act, but it is not thought that a large additional staff will be required in the immediate future.

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

51.

asked the Prime Minister how many Under-Secretaries it is proposed to appoint to the Ministry of Ways and Communications?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

It is intended to ask for sanction for the appointment of two Under-Secretaries, but a third may be found necessary during the early stages of the transition period.

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

Will that mean three more Ministers in addition to the existing Ministers?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

My hon. Friend is as good at arithmetic as I.

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

Certainly. That is the intention.

Photo of Mr Joseph Devlin Mr Joseph Devlin , Belfast Falls

Will there be any Members of Parliament left who are not Under-Secretaries?

Photo of Mr Charles Henry Mr Charles Henry , The Wrekin

53.

asked whether the right hon. Member for Cambridge took part in the construction and drafting of the Ministry of Ways and Communications Bill; if so, why his name does not appear on the back of the Bill; and whether, in the event of the Bill becoming an Act, it is the intention to appoint the right hon. Member for Cambridge Ministry of Ways and Communications?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. My right hon. Friend's name does not appear upon the back of the Bill, because such a course would be unusual in the circumstances. It is the Prime Minister's intention to invite him to assume the duties of Minister of Ways and Communications when that post is created.

Photo of Mr Charles Henry Mr Charles Henry , The Wrekin

What are the conditions in reference to names appearing on the back of Bills?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

It is not usual to have anyone's name on the back of a Bill who does not occupy an existing office.

Photo of Sir Arthur Fell Sir Arthur Fell , Great Yarmouth

62.

asked if a financial statement and papers will be supplied to Members before the Ways and Communications Bill comes on showing the result of the working of the railways under Government control and the effect of the rise of wages and the increased fares upon the railroad earnings and profits?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge proposes to deal with this question on the Second Heading of the Bill; but if, subsequently, a general desire be shown for further information, it will be supplied as far as is practicable.

Photo of Sir Arthur Fell Sir Arthur Fell , Great Yarmouth

Are the House and the public not entitled to reliable information with regard to railways in which there are such immense interests before we discuss this matter?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

It is a question of what is obtainable. The figures for the actual working are not available. It can only be an estimate.

Photo of Mr Edward Carson Mr Edward Carson , Belfast Duncairn

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability before the Second Reading of this Bill of publishing as a Parliamentary Paper a full statement of the powers that are proposed to be transferred by this Bill?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

That suggestion is a new one to me, but I shall have it considered.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

Is it not possible for a statement to be issued to the Members showing the increase in wages and in railway rates, as this is material for the use of the Members when we come to the Second Reading next week?

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

I have not had an opportunity of discussing this with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, but if there is any information to that effect which will be useful I shall have it circulated.