HC Deb 28 October 1884 vol 293 cc339-40

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether his attention has been called to statements which have appeared in the public press, that the Government has made large contracts with Belgian ironmasters for the supply of rails for Indian railways; and, whether he will give the House full information as to the nature and extent of these contracts?


also asked, What truth there is in the statements made in the South Wales newspapers that the Indian Government had obtained large quantities of rails abroad, to the manifest injury of our ironworkers at home, who are at present only partially employed?


In reply to my hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler), I may say, Sir, that on the 23rd of June last, since which date no foreign contracts have been made, I stated the nature and extent of foreign contracts placed up to that time during the last seven years; and I also said, with respect to steel sleepers which had been ordered in Belgium, that they were "somewhat novel to English manufacturers," and that "several of our greatest English manufacturers had declined to make them or to tender for them." I am now glad to be able to say that some of these firms have reconsidered this decision, have accepted the advice I then gave them, and are adapting their machinery to the manufacture of these sleepers. With respect to the Question which my hon. Friend now puts, and in reply also to the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth, I may say that I have not seen any authoritative statement as to the purchase of rails in Belgium. The fact is, not a single rail has been ordered abroad by the Indian Government during the last 10 years; and there is not the slightest shadow of an atom of foundation for the report.