§ SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether cases have been brought under his notice in which railway companies in the United Kingdom make lower charges on the carriage of foreign than on home produce and manufactures; and whether, seeing that the Board has not power to insist on uniform rates for all goods, British and foreign, he will initiate legislation to give the Board such power.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR, Leeds, Central)
A complaint of the nature referred to was made to the Board of Trade and fully investigated by the Department in 1900 under the conciliation provisions (Section 31) of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888, with the result that the allegations made against the railway companies concerned were not sustained. Since that date no specific cases (as distinguished from merely† See (4) Debates, cxxi., 358.1094 general allegations) have been brought to the notice of the Board, of differential treatment of home and foreign merchandise in respect of the same or similar services. Such treatment is explicitly prohibited by Section 27 of the Act of 1888, and apart from the action which the Board of Trade are always ready to take under the conciliation clause to which I have referred, the prohibition may be enforced by the Railway and Canal Commissioners upon proceedings before that Court. I am not prepared to initiate legislation designed to transfer the power of enforcement from a judicial Court to an administrative Department.