§ MR. G. A. HARDY (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now prepared to announce the composition of the Committee of Inquiry into the railway system of the United Kingdom, and give terms of reference.
§ MR. WARDLE (Stockport)
At the same time I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether an inquiry into the existing relations between the railways and the State is to be held;, and, if so, if he can say what the nature and extent of the inquiry will be, and when the inquiry will commence.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE,) Carnarvon Boroughs
The informal Railway Conference which is meeting at the Board of Trade is composed of representatives of railway companies, traders, agriculturists, the general public, and Government Departments. Its object is to endeavour to arrive at a general agreement with regard to such modifications of the existing law and of the relations subsisting both among the companies, and between the companies, traders, agriculturists, and the general public as may conduce to economy and elasticity of railway working, and also provides for the equitable apportionment of any advantages accruing therefrom. The Conference has decided to appoint several 677 Sub-Committees consisting partly of its own members partly of others to consider and report to it on certain groups of questions, among which is the question of the conditions and procedure for working agreements, combinations and amalgamations of railways, including any change in the relations between the railways and the State which might arise therefrom.
§ MR. CURRAN (Durham, Jarrow)
asked whether the State purchase of railways would be one of the subjects discussed.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said it was, of course, in the power of the Committee to consider that among other things; but the Committee was not specially appointed to consider the nationalisation of railways, but rather to consider the question of what economies could be effected by combination generally.
§ MR. JOHN WARD
Are we to understand that this is the Committee that was agreed upon as the outcome of the debate the other evening?
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
inquired how the extra appointments to the Committee had been made.
§ SIR F. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
May I ask whether these Committees and Sub-committees are to report their recommendations to the Board of Trade, and whether these reports or recommendations will be placed in possession of the Members of this House?