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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Someone ought to be sent to Jail

Someone ought to be sent to Jail.

In the earlier stages of the railway controversy, an anonymous writer made use of the above words, and implied that it was I who ought to suffer for my unsparing strictures on our railway administration and administrators. Should this pamphlet meet the eye of that writer, I trust he will read it through, and then say if indisputable evidence has not proved that he was wrong in his judgment, and that it is not I who should suffer.

The fact that I have held my hand for so many years, should be taken as proof that I have had no wish to injure the officers of the Department, and I may ask, seeing what they have done, would they have treated me:n the same manner had the positions been reversed?

Seen by the light of events, the evidence given by these gentlemen in 1836, is, to say the least of it, ridiculous in its absurdity. We, however, have ourselves to blame. We called them "railway men," and jumped to the conclusion that because one of them knew-how to construct a railway, and the other had some little experience as a traffic manager, that therefore page 7 they must be fully qualified to dictate the financial and business policy that should control the railways. This is where we made our mistake, and we shall see it at once if we remember that the great railway boards of England and America are guided by the best known financial and commercial men, and not by railway managers.

When we pay great salaries, and grant enormous powers to men whom neither nature nor education has fitted to exercise them, we must suffer. At any rate, the following pages incontestably prove that our "railway men" have been a complete, utter, and most miserable failure. I venture to say that, if the accounts were correctly taken, our railways are not earning one (1) per cent, on the capital invested. The late Commissioners made them appear to earn three per cent., by the simple expedients of running the lines and rolling-stock to destruction, cutting off train services, and charging to capital account items that ought to have been charged to revenue account. These facts are undeniable, and can be easily proved from their own reports.

Leading railway officials occupy a very exalted position—a position which I fear the public does not sufficiently recognise, and perhaps does not sufficiently reward. Next to the judges of the Supreme Court, they occupy the most responsible positions in the Civil Service. No men have so much valuable property entrusted to their care; no men are responsible for so great a number of invaluable lives. Therefore they are entitled to be treated with the greatest consideration and respect.

All who will do me the honour to read the following pages will, I am sure, agree that the men who occupy this position on our railways, have, by their actions, forfeited all claim to the respect their position would otherwise have entitled them to. The facts have long been known to me, but I have hesitated to use them in this manner, and would have much preferred to bring them out through inquiry by a Parliamentary Committee. That opportunity has, however, been persistently denied me.

The evidence given by the railway officials in 1886 completely deceived and misled the committee.

While speaking of the railway officials, let me say that it is only two or three of the upper ones that are interested in maintaining the present position. All the rest are chiefly interested in finding out a, system by which railways can be really made to pay, for it is only by doing this that they can be adequately rewarded. Many of them, as, for instance, the traffic managers and those immediately under them, are, in my opinion, very badly paid, considering the serious responsibilities they have to bear.

The opinion seems now to be pretty generally held that the final struggle for supremacy in the world will be between the Anglo-Saxons and the Slavs. I may be mistaken, but in my page 8 opinion the supremacy will remain with that race that knows best how to construct and administer roads. The road always has ruled the world, and always will. Did not the old Romans find this out, and have not we found it out? Where should we have been in the Crimea had it not been for Sir Morton Peto's railway, and would our position in Egypt have been what it is this day had the Sirdar not carried his railway along with him? England is the dominating Power in the world, because more than any other nation she controls the road over the seas.

More and more it becomes evident that the road—which now means the railway—is a prime necessity in modern warfare. The hold and government of any country will depend on its railways, and the more perfect these and their administration are, the more complete will be the control. The Slavs appear to have grasped this idea, and although the new system of administration was invented by an Anglo-Saxon, in this Anglo-Saxon community, the Slays of Hungary and Russia have been the first to appropriate its leading ideas. The enormous development it is causing in these countries is well known, but we cannot have it here, because Messrs. Maxwell, Hannay, and Hudson have thought that it does not suit them, and because of their stupid professional jealousy.

It is therefore a duty we owe to ourselves, and those who come after us, to inquire what kind of men are those who have so long effectually blocked the path of progress in this country.

Those who will do me the honour to read what follows, will, I am sure, be convinced that I am more than justified in saying that their statements in reference to the Stage System, and more especially the evidence they gave before the special Parliamentary Committee in 1886, were so diametrically opposed to the truth that it is impossible to believe that they gave it honestly, except on the assumption that they had not ordinary intelligence, and were absolutely ignorant of everything pertaining to railway policy and finance, and also a great deal of railway working.

The discontent with the present administration of our railways is universal, and I therefore earnestly ask a perusal of what follows.