To a large Board we were opposed. We suggested that members should be required to give their whole time to the work, and that representation of the various parts of the Empire might be as follows:—
United Kingdom, India, Crown Colonies and Protectorates
New Zealand 1
South Africa 1
Such is a brief summary of our Mission, our Report,
Whilst we were impressed by the vast extent and infinite variety of the Empire domain we were also touched by the sentiment which held together its widely scattered parts. Without this sentiment, and without loyalty to the Crown and Mother Country, what, we often thought, would happen?
The war has taught us much as to the unity of the Empire. Peace, we may be sure, will bring its own lessons, perhaps its own dangers, in its train. To strengthen the bonds so loosely yet so finely drawn must henceforth be the constant duty of the Statesmen of the Empire. The governing machinery requires overhauling, demands adjustment to the needs of the various sections of the Empire, and to the throbbing anxiety of each to share in the duties and responsibilities of Empire Government and Development.
The year 1917 terminated our Dominions’ Commission work and brought to a close the fiftieth year of my railway life. As if to mark the occasion, Dame Fortune gave me a pleasant surprise, and what it was I will now relate.
In an earlier chapter I have spoken of the Letterkenny to Burtonport Railway (in North-West Donegal), with the early stages of which, in 1897, I had something to do. Now, in 1917, twenty years later, I was to become still more intimately acquainted with it, and, in an unexpected but practical way, concerned in its domestic affairs.
Though the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company, which worked the Burtonport line, was a railway of only 14.5 miles in extent, it was entrusted with the working of no less than 85 other miles, 50 of which consisted of the Burtonport railway—a condition of things quite unique: the tail wagging the dog!
The total capital expenditure on the whole of the 100 miles of line worked by the Lough Swilly Company amounted to 727,000 pounds. Of this sum about 500,000 pounds, or 68 per cent., was money provided out of Government funds. The ordinary stock of the Lough Swilly Company was the exceedingly small sum of 50,330 pounds, upon which for twenty years a dividend of 7 per cent. had been regularly paid.