§ MR. MARKHAM
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that the rates charged the public by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies since the amalgamation of these companies are considerably higher than those charged by the Northern lines, that the rolling 995 stock is generally antiquated, the trains are overcrowded and unpunctual, and that many of the stations are old wooden erections without any proper protection for the travelling public against bad weather, he will consult the Law Officers of the Crown with a view of taking action against these companies to compel them to carry out their statutory obligations; and will he make representations to them against the excessive rates.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I have no reason to believe that the rates charged by the South Eastern and Chatham Company exceed either the maximum powers which have been given them by Parliament or the actual rates charged prior to the amalgamation. If traders desire to make specific complaints as to rates the Board of Trade will be happy to consider them under Section 31 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888. With regard to the remainder of the hon. Member's Question I do not know to what statutory obligations he refers. So far as the general condition of the railway is concerned I believe it to be common knowledge that the company has recently expended large sums of money on improvements to the line.