§ 61. Mr. WARDLE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that certain Irish railway companies have given notice of their intention to increase by 4 per cent. the rates for the carriage of merchandise on and from the 1st of July next; and whether, in view of the low rates of pay of both the clerical and labour staff on Irish railways (as disclosed in the Return—Railway Companies, Staff and Wages, recently issued by his Department) he proposes to subject such increased rates to the same limitations as regards the necessity of providing that the increase is 1429 made for the purpose of meeting a rise in the cost of working the said railways due to improved conditions of their labour and clerical staff, as are imposed upon the railways in Great Britain by the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1913?
I understand that certain of the Irish railway companies have given notice of their intention to increase some of their rates. As regards the latter part of the question, my hon. Friend will remember that the Irish railways were originally included in the Railway and Canal Bill of last Session, but at the instance of one of his colleagues, and with the assent of the House, the Irish railways were excluded from the operation of the Act. The Irish railways, therefore, must, if challenged, justify their increases under the Act of 1894, and will not have the benefit of the Act of 1913.
§ Mr. WARDLE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the rates in Ireland already are in excess of the maximum?
§ Sir JOHN LONSDALE
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to make any representation to the Irish railway companies of the opinions so frequently expressed in this House with regard to the increase in rates which they propose?
§ Sir J. LONSDALE
How does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that a poor tradesman or a shipper in Ireland can go even before the Railway and Canal Commissioners?
There was a Bill last Session which unfortunately I could not carry. That is the existing state of things, and I cannot interfere with it.