§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the railway rates throughout the Kingdom were advanced in the vast majority of cases on the 1st of January this year, although the Railway Companies undertook before legislation was sanctioned that no such advances should take place; and whether, in the interest of the industries whose very existence in many cases is threatened by these advances, he is willing to intimate to the various companies that the rates charged during 1892 should in all cases be restored where these were under the present rates, and that the amounts levied in excess of the rates of 1892 should be refunded pending further negotiations?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I have not sufficient information before me to be able to say what is the proportion between the rates which were raised and the rates which were reduced from the 1st January of this year, but I have sufficient evidence to convince me that the rates which the companies proposed to bring into force on the 1st January are in many instances so much advanced as seriously to threaten some of the industries of this country. I am daily in communication with the Railway Association on the subject, and I earnestly hope that they will see their way to making such reductions as will satisfy the reasonable reqnirements of the traders, and that after revision the extra charges levied since 1st January will be refunded.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the companies notice that he will take legislative action if they do not come to reasonable terms with the traders?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I am in daily communication with the Railway Companies. I should prefer if the House will permit me not to enter into any statement, because if I made one the hon. Gentleman would probably say it was too weak, while the Railway Companies would say it was too strong. I prefer to let the matter rest where it is until the negotiations be further advanced.