§ 17. Mr. LOUGH
asked what are the conditions under which the Government have taken over control of the railways throughout Great Britain; whether the various companies remain as trading corporations; and, if so, whether the Government pay the companies the usual rates for any services rendered by them, or whether the Government have themselves become public carriers in place of the various companies and assuming their responsibilities?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
His Majesty's Government have assumed the control of the railways of Great Britain under the provisions of Section 16 of the Regulation of the Forces Act, 1871. The individual companies retain the management of their lines subject to instructions issued by or through the Executive Committee which has been set up. No present payments are being made for services rendered to the Government.
§ 18. Mr. LOUGH
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, owing to the Government having taken over the control of the railways, the companies are now issuing circulars and verbal notices repudiating their responsibilities in many respects connected with the carrying of both passengers and goods, and especially that they decline to recognise any responsibility for goods lost or stolen in transit; and whether there are any conditions in the arrangement with the Government which enable them to do this, or if they still retain their responsibilities as public carriers?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I understand that the railway companies issued a notice on the 5th August disclaiming responsibility for delay, damage or loss due to the curtailment or interruption of train services in consequence of the War. Any claims for delay, damage or loss attributable to other causes will be dealt with as usual. The fact that the Government have taken possession of the railways for certain purposes does not affect the question.