HC Deb 03 March 1893 vol 9 cc973-4
MR. WARNER (Somerset, N.)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received from the representatives of any of the Railway Companies any proposal which is likely to terminate the present unsatisfactory state of the railway rates dispute and give satisfaction to traders?


Yes, Sir; I have received this morning very important communications from three large companies, all indicating a desire to come to a speedy understanding with the traders. The companies in question are the Great Northern, the Midland, and the Great Eastern. I have also heard, on good authority, that other companies are about to take the same steps. I propose, if we have a Debate to-night on the question, to submit the letters I have received to the House.

MR. JACKS (Stirlingshire)

Has the right hon. Gentleman received any reply from the Scotch Companies?


No, Sir; I have not received any specific reply from Scotland. The companies are now indicating separately the line they propose to take.


Have not the companies undertaken that any reductions agreed upon shall date back from January 1st?


Whatever revised rates may ultimately come into force, they will date back to January 1.


May I ask whether;the Government will consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the recent increase of railway rates, and to examine whether any, and what, precautions can be adopted to protect the public from unreasonable charges for the conveyance of goods?


I think it is undoubtedly desirable and necessary that there shall be ultimately some inquiry, but I think that, as the Government will be prepared, in the first instance, to move a Committee, it would be hardly desirable to propose a Committee before Easter, while negotiations are going on. Immediately after Easter I think such an inquiry ought to be instituted, and will have a very good result.