§ MR. NORWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for India, If he is now in a Position to lay upon the Table of the House the Report of the Departmental Committee on East Indian Railway (Freight, &c), to which he promised his consideration on the 24th May last?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON,
in reply, said, that since a Question was put at the end of May he had, as he promised he would, communicated with the Members of the Committee, and examined the Report and the evidence on which it was founded. Much of the evidence was obtained under the promise of secrecy. The Members of the Committee were of opinion that there would be no objection to produce the Report with certain omissions, and they had obtained the assent of most of the gentlemen who gave evidence to this course being taken; yet permission had not been obtained for the production of the evidence obtained under the promise of secrecy. Much of the evidence was taken in such a manner as to render it impossible to produce it. Only a portion was taken down in shorthand, and the rest was taken in the form of notes not suitable for forming part of a Parliamentary Paper. Under these circumstances, and finding the Committee had discussed with some freedom the system of management of some of the Guaranteed Companies, he thought it would not be to the public advantage, but rather the reverse, to lay this Report on the Table unsupported by the evidence on which it was founded; and he regretted, 1256 therefore, that he was unable to do so. He might, however, state that the Committee's conclusions, and the conclusions which had been generally adopted by the India Office and by the Guarantee Companies, were decidedly favourable to the system of obtaining freight, as a rule, by competitive tenders. That had been for some time the practice of the India Store Department itself; and after discussion and formulation of this system it had been decided to continue it, and to extend it to the different Guaranteed Railway Companies.