HC Deb 23 February 1920 vol 125 cc1284-5
30. Major GLYN

asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to permit the establishment of any monopoly in transportation in Mesopotamia; whether negotiations are in progress, with the knowledge of the India Office, for the acquisition from the Ministry of Munitions Disposals Board of all the river transport by a company or syndicate that at present exercises practically a monopoly of sea transport between India and Basra, charging for that voyage similar, if not increased, rates to that obtaining for the conveyance of freight from London to Basra; and whether such a monopoly, if obtained, combining both sea and inland water transporation, must act detrimentally upon the development of trade communications in Mesopotamia unless definite conditions governing freight charges are imposed?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Fisher)

It is not the intention of His Majesty's Government to favour any attempt to create such a monopoly. The arrangements made by the Ministry of Munitions, under which Lord Inchcape has agreed to sell the Mesopotamian rivercraft on behalf of His Majesty's Government, provide expressly that adequate steps shall be taken to secure competition amongst purchasers, and that no preferential treatment shall be accorded in any quarters. His Majesty's Government are fully alive to the considerations indicated in the last part of the question.

Major GLYN

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps so that intending purchasers may know as soon as possible what these terms are?


I will see that the hon. Member's object receives attention.

48. Mr. S. SAMUEL

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the event of establishing a monopoly of transport in Mesopotamia with a company or syndicate, the Government will make it a special condition in the concession that the concessionaires must act as common carriers and be compelled to carry merchandise of all descriptions for all merchants and traders, without any preference, at no higher rates than they charge to themselves; and is he aware that the monopoly it is proposed to create in the transport would give the firms operating it control of the entire import and export trade of Basra, Baghdad, and the whole neighbourhood?


The Government have no intention of establishing a monopoly of transport in Mesopotamia. The other points in the hon. Member's question do not therefore arise.