HC Deb 20 February 1880 vol 250 cc1101-2

asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether the Government contemplate taking powers to cause the Railway Companies to supply statistical data of their operations, so as to make known to the public, the actual cost of carriage of, the various classes of merchandise, of minerals, and several classes of passengers—as is done on the Indian lines and on the Railways of New South Wales; and also show the actual or average rates for the various classes of merchandise, of minerals, and fares for passengers—distinguishing those for local from through or competitive traffic; whether it is in contemplation to obtain for the Board of Trade such full power of supervision over the accounts of the Railway Companies as will ensure Railway accounts being presented to proprietors in a lucid and intelligible form; and, whether the Board of Trade will take powers to employ inspecting officers, to collect materials for a Return to Parliament of the actual state of all obsolete working stock appearing in the official Returns of the Railway Companies as "in good working order and repair?"


Sir, the forms of the Returns were carefully considered when the Regulation of Railways Act was passed in 1871, and nothing has occurred since that time to make us think it desirable to ask for powers to alter and extend those forms compulsorily. We have been in communication with the Clearing House in order to ascertain whether we can procure further information concerning the cost per mile of carrying goods and pas- sengers, and I am in hopes that we shall obtain valuable information upon the subject. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it would be impracticable to obtain the actual or average rates; and I cannot think that if they could be obtained they would be of much use, as the rates are very various and very frequently altered. We are not prepared to ask for further powers of supervision, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman requests, over the accounts of Railway Companies, which were carefully settled by the Act of 1868; nor do I think it desirable that the Board of Trade should employ their inspecting officers to collect Returns as to the condition of the working stock of all the railways in the United Kingdom.