HC Deb 16 February 1914 vol 58 cc583-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the railway companies, in declining to take into account fractions of a penny in fixing their increased charges for the conveyance of agricultural produce, have, in fact, in pursuance of an alleged intention to levy an increased charge of 4 per cent, only, increased their rates for the conveyance of milk in many cases by no less than 14 per cent., and have thereby rendered the milk producer's business, especially in the south of England, precarious and unprofitable; and whether he proposes to take any and, if any, what steps in the matter?

62. Mr. NEWTON

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the increase in the charge levied by railway companies for the conveyance of milk amounts in practice frequently to as much as 16 per cent.; and whether he is able to take, and proposes to take, any steps in the matter?

66. Mr. SANDYS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the increase in the charges made by railway companies for the conveyance of milk; whether he is aware that, for the conveyance of milk from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol, the charge for twelve gallons has been raised; from 6d. to 7d., an increase of 16 per cent.; whether he is aware that comparatively little labour is incurred in handling the milk traffic, as the railway company gives no collection or delivery, and can claim from the consignee assistance for unloading the milk; and whether, in view of the fact that this increase in rates is affecting a large section of the agricultural community, he proposes to take immediate steps to deal with the matter?


The railway clearing house inform me that a deputation from the Milk Traders' Railway Rates Committee discussed the matters referred to in these questions with representatives of the railway companies on the 28th January, and that it is hoped that a reply will be sent to the committee in the course of a few days. I will communicate with the hon. Members as soon as I learn the nature of the companies' reply.


Can the right hon. Gentleman exercise greater control over these great national monopolies than did his predecessor?


I will consider the point when I see the reply of the companies.


asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity in gallons of the imports of fresh milk in the United Kingdom during the year 1913; and whether any and, if any, what increases have been made in the same year in the through rates charged by all, or any, of the railway companies for the carriage of such milk from the Continent to London?


The quantity of fresh milk imported into the United Kingdom in 1913 was 4,237 cwts. The imports are not recorded in gallons. Practically all the milk entered Southampton, and the London and South-Western Railway Company inform me that the through rate has not been increased.


Are there not considerable milk imports into Harwich and other of the East Coast ports?


No; the facts are as I have stated. The import is not considerable.