HC Deb 15 November 1920 vol 134 cc1496-7

asked the Minister of Transport whether in the recent revision of railway rates for goods traffic, the rates for coal were increased by 100 per cent. plus 6d. per ton, subject to a maximum increase of 4s. per ton, where as the rates for pit wood were increased by 100 per cent., plus 9d. per ton, without any maximum; whether this works out in practice at an increase of, approximately, 50 per cent. for coal and 105 per cent. for pit wood; what is the reason for this discrimination against the timber - growing industry; and whether, in view of the desirability of increasing the production of timber in this country and the efforts which the Government is otherwise making to promote afforestation in the national interest, he will take steps to remove this discrimination?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The percentage of increase on coal traffic as a whole has been estimated to be, approximately, 103 per cent., and for traffic in Class C, which includes pit wood, 106½ per cent., while the percentage for all traffics is 112 per cent. A separate figure for pit wood is not available. There is no discrimination shown between timber and other comparable traffics, and I regret that I am unable to see my way to depart exceptionally from the recommendations of the Rates Advisory Committee in favour of timber growers. I would, however, remind the hon. Member that the whole question of Railway Rates is now under consideration by that Committee.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in large areas in Scotland the freights, respectively, for coal and pitwood produced there represent an increase of about 50 per cent. in the case of coal and over 100 per cent. in the case of pit wood?


There will certainly be cases where you can pick out individual rates of that kind, but on the whole the increase for coal and timber is less than that for other goods.