Sir Eric Geddes: No, the Act does not permit that.
Sir Eric Geddes: A special application will have to be made in each case.
Sir Eric Geddes: No person is or has been employed by the Ministry to write articles for publication, and I have no funds for the purpose. Writers and press representatives are given information which is available for publication without discrimination, and to that extent are assisted. It is most desirable that the vital concern of the taxpayer and community in these agreements should be thoroughly...
Sir Eric Geddes: Using the word in its widest sense, they have not.
Sir Eric Geddes: It will be convenient to answer these questions together. Railways stocks have shared in the general depreciation of capital values consequent upon the War, and I do not agree that loss from this cause which railway shareholders have suffered is in any way due to their War-time agreements with the Government. No section of the community can claim to be protected against the effect of general...
Sir Eric Geddes: The taxpayer. As to the point raised by my hon. Friend (Sir W. Davison), the matter is so controversial that he had better leave it to be dealt with in the Bill, and not by question and answer.
Sir Eric Geddes: These are matters of absolutely prime importance to the country, and it would be quite impossible for me to give any such undertaking. The House will decide what is to be done with the railways.
Sir Eric Geddes: The final figures for December, 1920, are not yet available. The "net receipts" of the controlled railway companies of the United Kingdom in 1913, which are the basis of the guarantee, amounted to £47,400,000. The war-time arrangements between the railway undertakings and the Government terminate on the 14th August next, but the companies are pressing for an extension of the period. The...
Sir Eric Geddes: I think before long. I may explain that the figures which are published are not the actual balance of operations of the year or month. They include back payments dating right back to 1914—payments which ought to have been made in 1914—so that no accurate information as to how the railways are operating can be obtained from the figures.
Sir Eric Geddes: This siding is a private one; other persons desiring to use it would need to negotiate with the owners of the siding and with the Great Eastern Railway Company.
Sir Eric Geddes: I must refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, on the 17th instant. I have laid the papers for the information of hon. Members and they are available, I understand, at the Vote Office.
Sir Eric Geddes: I think all that information will be obtainable from the Paper which I have laid.
Sir Eric Geddes: The wages bill of the station staff employed on Sundays at this station alone is in excess of the total receipts which only amount to slightly over £1 per Sunday on the average. In view of the necessity for economy at the present time, I consider the action taken by the Great Northern Railway to be justified.
Sir Eric Geddes: I am aware that various localities entertain some anxiety as to the effect upon their districts of the proposals for grouping the railway companies. I hope in the discussion which will arise on the Bill to be introduced to be able to show that these fears are not well founded. I am in close consultation with traders on the subject.
Sir Eric Geddes: If my hon. and gallant Friend desires to imply by the terms of his question that the Departmental Committee presided over by Lord Colwyn, which included five Members of this hon House, impartially selected, the President of the Federation of British Industries, and a representative of the Treasury, was not a competent and impartial tribunal, I must respectfully but strenuously dissent from...
Sir Eric Geddes: I do not know. I am afraid I do not read all the reports.
Sir Eric Geddes: The Thames Conservancy Bill is a Private Bill on which I shall, in due course, report to the Committee. The Bill is now being examined, and I fear that I cannot anticipate the Report. I am aware that a number of petitions have been lodged against the Bill, and these will no doubt be considered by the Committee.
Sir Eric Geddes: No.
Sir Eric Geddes: It is not proposed to make any fresh regulations affecting the use or construction of motor chars-à-banc in particular in the near future. As my Noble Friend is aware, the Minister of Transport has certain powers under Section 7 (4) of the Roads Act, 1920, to prohibit or restrict the use of vehicles of any specified class on any specified highway, on the application of the County Council.
Sir Eric Geddes: I shall do whatever I am obliged to do by law, and with every consideration for my Noble and gallant Friend.