§ MR. TREVELYAN (York, W. R., Elland)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that the London and South Western Railway Company assisted in financing the London Municipal Society; whether he will make an inquiry into the extent and circumstances of the subscription; and whether he has yet decided what steps to take, by legislation or otherwise, to prevent the recurrence of subscriptions by companies created by Act of Parliament to associations which take an active part in contested elections.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE,) Carnarvon Boroughs
I have received the following letter from the London and South Western Railway Company:—
§ "London and South Western Railway,
§ "General Manager's Office,
§ "Waterloo Station,
§ "London, S.E.
§ "12th April, 1907.
§ "With reference to your letter of the 9th instant, and to the question which Mr. Trevelyan proposes to ask the President of the Board of Trade in the House of Commons on Monday next the 15th instant, I would explain that this Company did contribute to the funds of the London Municipal Society in July, 1906, the sum of £100.
§ "In so doing, the Directors acted under the belief that the Municipal Reform movement was not connected in any way with Party, and entirely in the desire to assist a society whose object was to reduce the rates, which pressed very severely on railway companies, who are in the anomalous position of not having any voice in the election of those who make the rates.
§ "This Company has never subscribed to any association having a political object, and does not propose to do so.
§ "In order to show you the anxiety of the Directors to avoid, as far as possible, any political influence being exercised among their employees, or on their premises, I take the opportunity of sending you copy of a letter which was 600 circulated prior to the last general election—following the course frequently adopted on previous occasions.
§ "I am, Sir,
§ "Your obedient Servant,
§ "CHARLES J. OWENS.
§ "The Assistant Secretary
§ "(Railway Department),
§ "Board of Trade,
§ "7, Whitehall Gardens, S.W."
§ With regard to the last part of my hon. friend's Question, I am not yet in a position to make any statement, but the matter is receiving the careful attention of His Majesty's Government.
§ SIR EDWIN CORNWALL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
asked whether in view of these disclosures and others of a similar nature, the right hon. Gentleman would consult with the Prime Minister with a view to annulling the recent London County Council election.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
asked whether it would be competent for a shipping company to give a subscription to a political Party which included shipping subsidies in their programme.