HC Deb 05 August 1903 vol 126 cc1587-8
CAPTAIN BAGOT (Westmoreland, Kendal)

I beg to ask the hon. Member for North Hunts, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he has recently made representations to the leading railway companies with regard to the rates charged and the facilities given for the carriage of agricultural produce; and, if so, whether he will state what is the present position of this matter.

MR. AILWYN FELLOWES (Huntingdonshire, Ramsey.)

Yes, Sir; my noble friend became aware on his advent to office of the importance which is attached by agriculturists to the subject to which my hon. friend refers, and he thereupon placed himself in communication with leading railway officials with a view if possible to personal conference respecting it. The object which my noble friend had in view was of a twofold character. In the first place he wished to know generally the views of the railway companies with respect to the principal complaints and suggestions made by agriculturists, and secondly he desired to learn from them what in their opinion might be done by consignors of agricultural produce, either individually or in combination, to secure for themselves the best possible terms and facilities for the carriage of their goods. The General and Traffic Managers of the leading companies, nine in number, were good enough at once to accede to my noble friend's wishes in this respect, and a conference was held a few days ago between them, a representative of the Board of Trade, and ourselves, when the most important questions at issue were discussed in a more or less informal manner. As a result of the interchange of views which then took place it was arranged that we should bring to the notice of the individual companies concerned the various representations and proposals made to us, and we hope also to arrange later on for the holding from time to time of local conferences at which a representative of the Board may be present, and at which specific questions may be discussed, and the position of the companies and of the consignors explained. My noble friend desires to acknowledge the very friendly and reasonable spirit in which the General Managers have met him in this matter, and he is hopeful that the results of the action which, with their assistance, he is now taking may be of practical benefit to all concerned.