§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the whole or greater part of the rolling stock required by the new Waterloo and City Railway has been ordered from America; and whether he will consider the framing of a new Standing Order directing that companies applying to Parliament to construct new railways shall 1343 be bound to purchase a fair proportion of the goods required in the United Kingdom?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C.T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
No, Sir, I am not prepared to suggest such a new Standing Order. With regard to the particular case referred to, I am informed by the Company that the order has been placed with an American firm for the reason that, although no less than seven selected English firms were invited to tender, not one of them was able to complete and deliver the rolling stock in question, consisting of only 22 coaches (the wheels and axles for which are to be supplied by English and Scotch firms) within the time required by the Company for the opening of the railway.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
As I understand that the contract is not actually signed, will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Company, so that they may be brought to a proper sense of their duty to English trade?
§ MR. RITCHIE
No, Sir. I do not see that any duty is imposed upon railway companies to employ people who cannot deliver goods within a specified time. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. C. E. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
Are we to understand that English labour is so fully employed that the work cannot be executed?
§ MR. RITCHIE
I am quite unable to state the reason why the goods cannot he delivered within the specified time, but obviously that must be the case.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
Has the refusal to execute the order anything to do with the apprehension that strikes may occur?
§ [No answer was given.]