CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - DIVERSION OF CATTLE TRAFFIC FROM SAORSTÁT.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether his attention has been called to a letter of the Manager of the Great Northern Railway Company to the Meath Farmers' Union, stating in reply to the request in their letter of the 17th August that his Company was reducing the charge for the transit of cattle from Beauparc and Navan to Belfast, to a lower figure than the charge operating in Great Northern stations generally; whether the effect of that decision was not to prejudice the Port of Dublin by diverting to Belfast traffic that in the natural order of things would come to Dublin, and whether he has any statement to make regarding the allegation often made that a large part of the live stock and other traffic from the Saorstát across the Border is not credited to Saorstát exports, but helps to swell the total of the exports from Northern Ireland.

I am informed by the Great Northern Railway that the reduction in the railway rates for the conveyance of cattle from Beauparc and Navan to Belfast, referred to in the Deputy's question, was made in consequence of representations put forward by, amongst others, the County Meath Association of the Irish Farmers' Union.

The rates per wagon from both Beaupare and Navan are now £4 5s. to Belfast and £1 14s. 5d. to Dublin. By comparison with the respective lengths of haul these figures give Dublin an advantage, but they are stated by the Company to have been adopted with a view to bringing the rates to the two ports into closer relation. That is to say, the County Meath Association of the Irish Farmers' Union has been instrumental in obtaining an improvement of the Belfast position in the direction of the standard hitherto enjoyed by Dublin.

It is not correct to say that any part of the live stock or other traffic from the Saorstát across the Border is not duly credited to Saorstát's exports though it is understood that the official figures of exports from Northern Ireland are swollen by the inclusion of figures relating to traffic which merely passes through Northern Ireland on its way from the Saorstát to another country.