29 MARCH 1940, Page 6

Canals are coming rather more into the public eye and

the Minister of Transport recently intimated that some financial assistance might be forthcoming for them. Accord- ing to Mr. George Cadbury the canals are in such a bad way (owing to steadily rising costs and the fact that the rail- ways, with which they compete, have not raised their rates) that unless something is done quickly they will soon cease to function. He himself suggests a pooling arrangement, with Government guarantee, as in the case of the railways. I wonder if the champions of canals realise what a useful ally they have—or had. I quote from a letter on canals addressed to this journal in 1913 (" in view," according to the writer, " Of the influence exerted by The Spectator on thinking men ") which urges that " no real improvement can be carried out without unification of ownership, and that no private individual or syndicate can obtain the statutory powers to bring this about. The State alone can replace the private companies, trusts and railways which now own or control different sections of the main through waterway routes, and that is why we are compelled to advocate State interference." The letter is signed Neville Chamberlain ; address, Westboume, Edgbaston.