§ MR. WARDLE (Stockport)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the action of certain railway companies in entering into agreements and arranging to pool receipts; and whether, in view of the provisions of the Acts of Parliament establishing these railways and of the danger which would result from the formation of a gigantic railway trust or series of trusts, the Government propose to take any, and if so, what action.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. CHURCHILL,) Dundee
This matter has engaged my attention; I am informed that the most far-reaching of the arrangements proposed, namely, that of the Great Central, Great Eastern, and Great Northern Companies will be 480 embodied in a Bill and submitted to Parliament for approval. As to other arrangements which are being entered into by various companies, and which do not, in the opinion of those companies, require Parliamentary or other sanction, my hon. friend may rest assured that the working of such arrangements will be most carefully watched, and should experience show that they operate detrimentally to the public interest, His Majesty's Government would not hesitate to take or to propose to Parliament the measures required by the situation.
§ MR. WARDLE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under Section 17 of the Act of 1844 he has full power to deal with this matter?
§ MR. CHURCHILL
I am making very careful inquiries. I shall, of course, watch very carefully over any powers which may be in the possession of the President of the Board of Trade under the law, and also if any opportunity arises conveniently for putting them into force.
§ MR. H. C. LEA
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the action of the railway companies referred to in this matter has sensibly added to the unemployment which is existing in the country, and especially in my own constituency?