HC Deb 16 June 1913 vol 54 cc33-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he was aware that, on the basis of 'an average crop of potatoes amounting to eight tons per acre and of the present average rate for their conveyance by rail being 10s. per ton, the proposed uniform increase in railway rates of 4 per cent. as from the 1st. July will represent an increased tax upon agricultural land used for this purpose of 3s. 4d. per acre; and whether, having regard to the burden that would thereby be placed upon agriculture and the production of an article of food of general consumption, he will take steps to secure some modification of the proposed increase or the entire exemption there from of agricultural and market garden produce of this or alike description?


I should doubt whether the average haul in the case of potatoes is as long as the hon. Member's question suggests, and I do not know why he assumes that the increase of rates would be wholly borne by the producer. As the hon. Member is aware, any trader or responsible body of traders can complain of an increase of rate, and if necessary require the railway company to justify it before the Railway and Canal Commission. The Board of Trade have no power in the matter, and in the circumstances I do not see that there are any steps which they can usefully take.