[From 1911 MacDonnell Inquiry]
STATEMENT RY MR. T, STOWELL, SECRETARY AND GENERAL MANAGER OF THE
ISLE OF MAN RAILWAY COMPANY.
Isle of Man Railway Company,
25th May, 1911.
MANX CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM,
In accordance with the wish expressed by you to
me on Saturday last, I have pleasure in enclosing the
evidence I was prepared to give to the Committee
Seeing that it was no fault of mine I did not
present myself to give this evidence, and knowing it
has gone forth in some quarters that I purposely
avoided the ordeal, I trust you will give my statement
the same prominence in the Official Evidence as that
of those who presented themselves for examination.
Thanking you in anticipation,
I am, yours faithfully,
Frank Elliott, Esq. Secretary & Manager.
I succeeded Mr. Wood in 1903 as Secretary and
General Manager of the Isle of Man Railway Company,
and still occupy that position.
I was born in Douglas, and have lived there all
I entered the service of the Company on leaving
The Company has a subscribed capital of 349,310l.,
190,000l. being the share capital, of which 77,770l. is
held by residents, and 112,230l. by non-residents.
For many years past, I have been well acquainted
with the members of the Council, and for the most
part with members of the Keys also.
In my opinion the work of legislation and the work
of government in this Island has been carried out in
such a way as to give general satisfaction to the
people, and I consider that this is due largely to the
careful and independent manner in which the Council
deals with legislative proposals.
I think that in a small country like the Isle
of Man, the powers exercised by the Governor and
Council are a source of strength to the Constitution.
and produce a sense of public security which I think
would not exist, were those powers taken away or
I know of no real cause of complaint of action by
The present agitation for Reform has not been
based -upon any complaints against the Council.
AS to Finance, I think the control exercised by the
Governor and the Treasury has been entirely in the
interests of the Island, and been a source of stability to
the Manx Government.
I think it quite essential, knowing the Island well
as I do, that the control of the finances should be in
the hands of somebody responsible to the English
I consider that the introduction of any elective
element into the Council would be calculated to cause
friction and impair its usefulness.
Generally I am against the Petition.
Referring to the economic conditions, its (the
Island's) progress, although slow, is a steadily increasing
one, largely due to the careful and cautious
manner in which legislation of a non-harassing nature,
is imposed. ..
A very considerable sum of English money is still
invested in both real and personal estate, the interest
on which is a drain on the Island. This money is
gradually being re-placed by Manx investors, and all
round Manx capital is accumulating.
The two chief, in fact only, industries are agriculture and visiting.
Agriculture in all its branches is fairly flourishing,
and steadily improving, and can be left to take care of
itself, providing the visiting industry is energetically
dealt with. This can only be done by advertising the
attractions of the place.
I consider the sum (1,750l.) set apart for advertising
altogether inadequate. It ought to be at least 3,000l.
The number of visitors to the Island seems to be
steadily increasing, but the average "stay" is not so
long now as it used to be, and in consequence the
board and lodging house business is not individually
quite so flourishing. The competition is keen and
prices are low and in some cases not remunerative.
The week-end tripper is increasing, the facilities
offered by the carrying companies conducing to this.
The length of the visiting season, too, is not expanding,
although heroic efforts have been and are
still being made by the Isle of Man Steam Packet
Company in putting on their largest and fastest
steamers in June and continuing until the end of
September to try to encourage the people to visit the
Island, but without success, and I fear at a loss to that
This industry, one must not forget, is precarious,
depending as it does on the good state of trade in
England, and also fine weather.
Then, again, supposing-and it is not impossible-
an epidemic broke out in the Island, we should suffer
badly, and unless we had some help from our Government
we should be in a sorry state. This shows the
absolute necessity of retaining a considerable surplus
of the revenue to meet contingencies of this kind.
The almost defunct fishing industry should, I consider, receive some attention.
At present the boats employed in this industry are
too small to follow the fish round our coasts, and
capitalists are too chary to invest their money in a
larger and more fully equipped craft. If the Government
could see their way to subsidise or otherwise
assist boat-owners in the building of a few larger craft
experimentally, something substantial might result.
There would be no shortage of men to man such
The mining industry is fast disappearing, and I do
not see any likelihood of its revival-which causes a
considerable number of young men to leave the Island.
The principal companies in the Island are in the
main in a fairly sound financial condition.
The banks are showing increased deposits.