HC Deb 02 July 1903 vol 124 cc1237-44

Order read, for further consideration of Resolution [22nd April], "That a sum, not exceeding £139,395, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1904, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments, including a Grant-in-Aid."

*SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)

said he wished to move the reduction of the Vote by £100, in order to draw attention to the attitude taken by the President of the Board of Trade towards complaints made of railway rates by traders. He understood that the Board of Trade were perfectly willing to give assistance to individual traders when they came with complaints of rates being unfair or prejudicial in relation to the rates of carriage of foreign produce imported from abroad, or that the rates in particular districts were too high as compared with the rates in other districts; but it was not possible for small traders, and he spoke especially in the interests of farmers, men who lived in isolated districts, to undertake the investigation, and to show how they were prejudiced by the inequality of rates, or the preference given to foreign importers. Take the case of the Great Western Railway, with which he was best acquainted. The rate for certain goods from Paddington to Bristol was as high as the rate from Paddington to Exeter, which was nearly double the distance. The higher rate was charged to Bristol because there was no competition, and until a new railway was made the Bristol traders were bound to suffer. Farmers living only six or seven miles from Bristol were charged 3s. 4d. per ton for carriage of oil cake, while grain was charged only 2s. 6d. per ton, and if two tons of cake and two tons of wheat or oats were sent in one consignment the higher rate of 3s. 4d. was charged for the whole four tons. When complaint was made to the railway company the answer was— If you don't like it you can cart the cake from Bristol. Again, the Great Western Railway charged 1s. 5d. for a cwt. of agricultural produce carried thirty miles, and under similar conditions the Great Eastern Company only charged 9d. The late Mr. Hanbury, as representing the Board of Agriculture, expressed the sympathy of that Department with the complaints of agriculturists in this matter, and he was glad to learn from a speech made by Lord Onslow that he was prepared to follow in Mr. Hanbury's footsteps. But the Board of Trade was particularly concerned, and he asked that that Department should collect information as to rates and codify the rates to show where and how they pressed most unfairly upon small traders and producers, so that a redress of their grievances might be arrived at. To put it in a nutshell, what he asked the President of the Board of Trade was to do this. To collect and compare the railway rates for agricultural produce over the entire railways of Great Britain. This would enable the producer to see where he was unfairly treated. It was impossible for traders such as farmers to do this for themselves. They were unable from their isolated and scattered condition to unite and protect themselves as other traders did. He was only asking the President of the Board of Trade to do what Mr. Hanbury was pressing upon him at the time of his death to do for agriculturists.

Amendment proposed— To leave out '£139,395,' and insert '£139,295.'"—(Sir Edward Strachey.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That '£139,395' stand part of the said Resolution."


said he thoroughly understood the interest which the hon. Member took in this question, an interest which was felt by many Members on both sides of the House. The hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that the Board of Trade were not willing to help him on this question, but he could assure the hon. Gentleman that the Board of Trade were not only quite willing, but anxious in every way to give assistance to put an end to such anomalies as the hon. Member had mentioned. The Board would investigate any complaint, whether made by an individual or a representative body, and, as a matter of fact, such complaints had been investigated, and redress obtained by means of the conciliation powers conferred by the Act. It was, of course, common talk that unfair rates were charged upon foreign produce coming by sea as against inland produce, but in no case, since he had been connected with the Board of Trade, had this been substantiated entirely. A large consignment to one station cost less in the handling and carriage than small quantities delivered at different stations. He could not promise that the Board of Trade would undertake the general inquiry asked for by the hon. Member, and examine all the rate books of the different railway companies to see where there were unfair rates. He was bound to say that he did not see how that could be possibly done. Years might be spent in investigation of rate books, and still no definite result would be arrived at. Redress could only be secured by the individual trader bringing his own particular grievance to the Board of Trade, and asking them to go into the matter, when he was sure they would do their best to have it remedied.

He did not believe that the means suggested by the hon. Member would be effective; and all he thought the House should ask the Board of Trade to do was that where means were available, they should use them in order to remove grievances of the character stated by the hon. Gentleman. That was what the Board of Trade were now doing, and what the Board of Trade were most anxious to do. The Board did not ask that the injustice should be proved. All they asked was that where a person thought a rate was unfair, he should send them a statement of what he thought the unfairness consisted of. The Board would go into the matter, and if they found an injustice existed, they would do their best to remedy it. Anything more, in existing circumstances, could not be done by the Department; and he could assure the House that, within their powers, the Board of Trade were only too anxious to assist the traders of the country.

MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)

said that the subject which had been raised by his hon. friend was one in which he had taken a profound interest. He was very dissatisfied with what had been said by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. The hon. Gentleman seemed to disclaim any right or duty on the part of the Board of Trade to enter into a general survey of the unfairness of railway rates. He understood from his late friend Mr. Hanbury that he had laid a large number of complaints before the Board of Trade. What he himself wished to urge on the Board of Trade was that individual agriculturists were placed in a position of very great difficulty; and were unable to obtain the comparative rates which would enable them to establish their case except at great expense. They had a right to complain of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman handled that particular difficulty.


said he distinctly stated that all the Board required was that where a trader considered a rate to be unfair, he should communicate with the Board, and the Board themselves would make the necessary inquiries.


said that the hon. Gentleman had disclaimed any duty or responsibility to enter into the comparative justice of various rates.




said he was glad the hon. Gentleman dissented; but that was the view conveyed by his speech. He shared the hon. Gentleman's admiration of the late Mr. Hanbury's idea of

starting associations which would formulate complaints of a more general character; but that was now rather a matter of hope than of reality. At present, when complaints were made to the Board of Trade nothing came of them; and that was due to a great extent to the costliness of the procedure.


said that there was absolutely no cost on the trader, except that involved in sending a letter to the Board.


said he had had to deal with many Presidents of the Board of Trade, and he knew what he was talking about. Traders generally had not received that support from the Board of Trade which they might reasonably have expected. He was glad his hon. friend had entered his protest against the inactivity of the Board, which he knew was somewhat warmly resented by the late President of the Board of Agriculture; and he hoped his hon. friend would proceed to a division.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 180; Noes, 70. (Division List No. 137).

Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Dickson, Charles Scott
Anson, Sir William Reynell Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon
Arkwright, John Stanhope Cayzer, Sir Charles William Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Doughty, George
Arrol, Sir William Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers
Atkinson, Right Hon. John Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc Duke, Henry Edward
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H. Charrington, Spencer Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin
Austin, Sir John Churchill, Winston Spencer Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart
Bain, Colonel James Robert Clare, Octavius Leigh Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton
Baird, John George Alexander Clive, Captain Percy A. Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Cohen, Benjamin Louis Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.
Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. Hicks Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Beckett, Ernest William Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose
Bignold, Arthur Corbett, T. L. (Down North) Flower, Ernest
Blundell, Colonel Henry Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Forster, Henry William
Bowles, T. Gibson (Lynn Regis) Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S. Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.
Brotherton, Edward Allen Cranborne, Viscount Fyler, John Arthur
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ Crossley, Sir Savile Garfit, William
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Dalrymple, Sir Charles Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn
Cautley, Henry Strother Dickinson, Robert Edmond Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)
Gordon, Maj. Evans (Tr. H'ml'ts Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S. Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Greene, Sir E. W. (Burry St. Ed. Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham Rutherford, John (Lancashire
Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S. Sadler, Col. Saml. Alexander
Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Lonsdale, John Brownlee Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Gunter, Sir Robert Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth) Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight
Guthrie, Walter Murray MacIver, David (Liverpool) Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Hain, Edward Maconochie, A. W. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Hall, Edward Marshall M'Arthur, Charles, (Liverpool) Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. M'Calmont, Colonel James Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Ld G. (Mid'x) M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Sloan, Thomas Henry
Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy) Majendie, James A. H. Smith, James Parker (Lanarks
Hare, Thomas Leigh Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Harris, Frederick Leverton Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Spear, John Ward
Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Mitchell, William (Burnley) Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)
Haslett, Sir James Horner Molesworth, Sir Lewis Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Hay, Hon. Claude George Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Stone, Sir Benjamin
Henderson, Sir Alexander Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Morrell, George Herbert Thompson, Dr. E. C. (Monagh'n, N.
Hope, J. F. (Sheff., Bt'side.) Morrison, James Archibald Thorburn, Sir Walter
Hornby, Sir William Henry Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Ed. M.
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Mount, William Arthur Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Hoult, Joseph Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Valentia, Viscount
Hudson, George Bickersteth Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N. Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.
Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Wanklyn, James Leslie
Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Warde, Colonel C. E.
Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred Parkes, Ebenezer Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)
Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Pease, H. Pike (Darlington) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Johnstone, Heywood Percy, Earl Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George Platt-Higgins, Frederick Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. Plummer, Walter R. Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson
Kennedy, Patrick James Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm. Pretyman, Ernest George Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Laurie, Lieut.-General Pym, C. Guy Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow Randles John S.
Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th) Reid, James (Greenock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine Sir Alexander Acland-
Lawson, Jn. Grant (Yorks, N. R.) Renwick, George Hood and Mr. Anstruther.
Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson
Allan, Sir William (Gateshead) Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Barlow, John Emmott Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk. Roe, Sir Thomas
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Rose, Charles Day
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Kearley, Hudson E. Runciman, Walter
Brigg, John Labouchere, Henry Russell, T. W.
Brown, Geo. M. (Edinburgh) Lambert, George Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Langley, Batty Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall) Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Caldwell, James Layland-Barratt, Francis Taylor, Theo. C. (Radcliffe)
Cawley, Frederick Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Thomas, Sir A. (Glam., E.
Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark Lloyd-George, David Toulmin, George
Dalziel, James Henry Lundon, W. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) M'Fadden, Edward Wallace, Robert
Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardign M'Kenna, Reginald Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Markham, Arthur Basil Weir, James Galloway
Dunn, Sir William Murnaghan, George White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Edwards, Frank Nussey, Thomas Willans Whitley J. H. (Halifax)
Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan) O'Doherty, William Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Pirie, Duncan V. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Power, Patrick Joseph Sir Edward Strachey and
Healy, Timothy Michael Redmond, William (Clare) Mr. Channing.
Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H. Rickett, J. Compton
Holland, Sir William Henry Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)

Motion made, and question, "That this House do not adjourn"—(Sir A. Acland-Hood)—put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at ten minutes before Seven o'clock.