HC Deb 20 December 1906 vol 167 cc1679-80

To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he is aware that the Report of the Departmental Committee on Railway Rates, appointed by the Board of Agriculture, has caused disappointment; whether he is aware of the difference of opinion as to the meaning of the terms of reference among the Committee; whether he has noticed that the representative of the Board of Agriculture signed a separate Report; whether he will confer with the Board of Trade as to the appointment of a new Inter-departmental Committee with clear terms of reference; and whether he will see that agricultural interests are adequately represented on the Committee, and that the railway experts serving shall not be necessarily railway directors or managers.

(Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) It is the case that a difference of opinion existed in the Committee as to the interpretation of the phrase "preferential treatment" in their reference, and that dissatisfaction with the Report of the Committee has been expressed by agriculturists in consequence. It does not appear, however, that any restriction was placed upon the reception of evidence, and the views of the minority were very fully and ably set out in MR. Haygarth Brown's separate Report. In these circumstances my noble friend scarcely thinks that further inquiry by a new Departmental Committee is necessary, but he will be glad to confer with my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade on the subject. In the meantime our inspectors will use every opportunity of collecting further information, and they will investigate any specific complaints which may be addressed to us.