§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, with reference to the proceedings under the Conciliation Clause respecting increased railway rates, how many of the complaints are awaiting hearing at the Board of Trade, and in how many cases the railway companies have failed to offer any explanation in reply to complaints; whether he is aware that in a large number of cases no replies have been received by traders who lodged complaints with the Board of Trade prior to 23rd February 1895; and what course the Board of Trade intend to take with regard to cases in which the railway companies have unduly delayed their replies?
§ MR. RITCHIE
It is impossible to give my hon. Friend the first figure he asks for, as in a large number of cases the traders have not responded to an invitation to come to a hearing, and it is not known whether they are satisfied with the explanations furnished by the companies and forwarded to them. In about 200 complaints out of 1,850 lodged, no definite replies have been received from the companies, and in these cases the Board of Trade propose to endeavour to arrange hearings without further pressing for replies from the companies. As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, a large number of coal cases are in suspense pending a settlement between the parties. The Department has responded to the complaints of all complainants with the exception of those to which I have referred.