§ MR. LEVESON GOWER (Stoke-upon-Trent)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the so-called "Club" trains between London and Dover, and the steamers run in connection therewith between Dover and Calais, which are advertised in the South Eastern and London, Chatham and Dover Railway Companies' time tables as starting every day at fixed hours, are trains within the meaning of those Companies' Acts; and, if not, whether the fares charged by these trains and boats are illegal, as being considerably in excess of the maximum fares authorised by either of the Companies' Special Acts; and also whether he is aware that, whereas the French law entitles each railway passenger of all classes to 66 lbs. (30 kilos.) of luggage free of charge, and the Acts governing the South Eastern and London, Chatham, and Dover Companies entitle each first and second-class passenger to considerably greater free weight, each passenger via Boulogne or Calais to the interior of France is charged excess rates on all luggage over 56 lbs. in weight, and what legal justification there is for such charge being made; and whether, if he be satisfied of the illegality of these charges, he will consider the propriety of taking proceedings against the companies under the provisions of Section 17 of the Act 7 & 8 Vic., c. 65, commonly known as the Cheap Trains Act?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I have been in communication with the South Eastern and London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Companies with regard to the matters referred to in the hon. Member's questions. I am informed by both com- 503 panies that the fares charged by the club trains are within their statutory powers. The trains are run under an arrangement with the International Sleeping Car Company, who provide saloon cars and attendants and render special services as regards registration and Customs examination of luggage, for which they make a charge. As regards the charge for baggage referred to by the hon. Member, the South Eastern Railway Company inform me that no charge is made for the conveyance by the club train of passengers' luggage unless it exceeds the weight and dimension specified in the Company's Acts. The London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company state that every passenger is allowed the full statutory weight of luggage free, when conveyed in the ordinary way unregistered; but that, for the registration to the Continent, conveyance between the train and steamer at Dover, conveyance between Dover and Calais, transhipment from the steamer to the train at Calais, and for other services incidental to through registration, the Company, in conjunction with the foreign Railway Companies, does, as a matter of special contract with the passengers for their convenience and at their option, provide special facilities in return for a fixed payment in respect of the excess in weight beyond 56 lbs.