§ Mr. PETO
asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether, in view of the increasing number of cases of arbitary action of railway companies in dealing with the claims of small traders and agriculturists for loss caused by damage to or delay of goods owing to the company's negligence, he would consider the advisability of appointing an officer or sub-department of the Board of Trade to whom small traders could refer such cases and whose duty it would be to see that they received fair treatment.
The hon. Member is, I assume, referring to claims for loss or damage in connection with traffic consigned at owners' risk. The Board of Trade could not adjudicate on such claims, but they are empowered to inquire into complaints by traders of unfair or unreasonable treatment by a railway company, 1851 and to endeavour to effect an amicable settlement thereof, and this power is freely exercised.