HC Deb 21 February 1893 vol 9 cc46-7
SIR BERNHARD SAMUELSON (Oxfordshire, Banbury)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any further communications have reached him from the Railway Companies on the subject of Rates since that from Sir II. Oakley, which he read to the House on the 7th of this mouth?


On the same subject, will the right hon. Gentleman say if the Railway Companies have made any statement to the Board of Trade as to the date within which they will bring into effect the revision of the rates in favour of the traders? Have they been requested to name any time?


I have to-day seen Sir H. Oakley, an received from him a list, which I hold in my hand, of articles in respect of which the rates set out in the rate books on the 1st January have been reduced, showing the class rate to be made applicable to them for the future. The list is too long to read, but it comprises many important articles of merchandise, and I shall be happy to lay it on the Table. Sir H. Oakley assures me the reductions cover several millions of rates, an that the Companies are engaged every day revising an reducing their rates. Thy did name the 28th February as the date for the completion of the revision, but I fin there is no prospect of completing it, and Sir Henry Oakley now tells me that even with a large staff working as fast as possible the revision will hardly be finished before the middle of April. He assures me that the Companies are most anxious to arrive at a settlement, and as far as they possibly can to meet the reasonable wishes of the traders. I do not wish to say anything just at present as to what course the Government may be prepared to take, but when the revision is complete the Government will consider whether there remains any just grounds of complaint against the companies, and, if there does, what is the proper remedy to apply?


Arising out of the answer, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to compare the revised rates, when issued, with the rates previously in force, in- order that the House may judge the extent to which the Companies have complied with the wishes of the traders?


The number of rates is so enormous that the task would take a long time, but I will from time to time endeavour to have a comparison made between the old and the new rates in order to ascertain the extent of the reduction.


Has the right hon. Gentleman acquiesced in the proposal to extend the time to the middle of April; if so, upon what terms? From when will the revision date?


The Companies have agreed that the altered rates shall date back to the 1st January. That is the only term agreed upon. I have made no other condition.


Does the Railway Association speak for the Irish Companies, and will the rebate be allowed by them?


The Railway Association represents the Irish as well as the English Railways, and they promise that the same conditions shall apply to both.


Will the House be supplied from time to time with the revised rates, or will hon. Members have to wait till April for the Report?


It is most necessary that before the rate book is published the whole of the rates shall be revised; but I will endeavour to give to the House some indication of the changes contemplated.

SIR R. PAGET (Somerset, Wells)

Is Sir Henry Oakley speaking only for his own Company, or for all the companies?


Sir Henry Oakley speaks for the Railway Association, and therefore on behalf of all the Railway Companies.


And the revised rates are to date back?


Yes; to the 1st January.

Forward to