Railway Wagons (Works Department).

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport. – in the House of Commons on 21st October 1920.

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Photo of Mr Marshall Stevens Mr Marshall Stevens , Eccles

72.

asked the First Commissioner of Works the number of railway wagons owned or controlled by his Department; what reasons, if any, he can advance why they are more usefully employed under the control of his Department than they would be if controlled by the Minister of Transport; if he will give particulars as to the time railway wagons owned by his Department were under-load, empty, and in transit for the four weeks ended 20th June, 1920, the four weeks ended 18th July, and for the past four weeks, respectively; and what number are now unemployed

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

There are 1,405 wagons under the control of my Department. Of this number, 365 are used for coal traffic and were under load and in transit during the whole period referred to by the hon. Member. The remaining 1,040 wagons are used in connection with the housing schemes which are being caried out by my Department. I regret that it is not possible to give the figures in the form asked for, but the average number of days each wagon was lying empty during the period in question was as follows:—

4 weeks ending June 20th3½ days
4 weeks ending July 18th4 days
4 weeks ending October 16th3 days
The number at present in use is 1,265. I do not consider that any advantage would be gained by transferring these wagons to the Ministry of Transport, but I will consider the possibility of releasing a portion of them as circumstances permit.

Photo of Mr Marshall Stevens Mr Marshall Stevens , Eccles

Is not the right hon Gentleman aware that a number of these wagons have been lying idle at Chepstow for a considerable time, and also is he not aware that if the wagons were under the control of the Ministry of Transport, the whole of the statistics asked for would be included in the statistics published?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

The wagons the hon. Member refers to in Chepstow are loaned to the Ministry of Shipping and are not under my control. I do not propose to give up control of these wagons which are very necessary for carrying out the work of the Department.

Photo of Mr Marshall Stevens Mr Marshall Stevens , Eccles

Is it not the fact that the wagons I refer to at Chepstow bear the name of the First Commissioner of Works, and is it not the fact that they have been lying idle at Chepstow for months?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

It is quite true these wagons belong to His Majesty's Office of Works, but they have been loaned to the Ministry of Shipping, and therefore I have no direct information of them.

Photo of Mr Henry Croft Mr Henry Croft , Bournemouth

If the right hon. Gentleman can loan wagons, does he really require them?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

That does not quite follow. I am informed that more wagons are required to carry out additional housing.

Captain TERRELL:

Will the right hon. Gentleman get the wagons back at once?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I will communicate with the Ministry of Shipping. I understand that the hon. Member has a question down to the Ministry of Shipping on the subject.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has only got control of the wagons or control of the building material that is distributed in the various areas?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I regret to say I have not.

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

How long have they been loaned?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I cannot say. I would require notice of that question.