HC Deb 20 March 1922 vol 152 cc31-2
45. Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, seeing that the majority of Scottish railway companies have realised the paralysing effect on trade of high transport charges for coal, coke, and byproducts, and have in consequence altered such charges with immediate benefit to industry in that country, and seeing that similar benefit might be felt in England and Wales, where high railway rates are at the present time seriously hampering the coal trade and all industries dependent on it, he will consider the desirability of bringing pressure to bear upon English railway companies in order that substantial or efficacious reductions of their charges may be brought about?


The hon. and gallant Member appears to overlook the fact that the rail- way companies in England and Wales made reductions in respect of coal, coke, and patent fuel operative at an earlier date and on a wider basis than did the Scottish companies. I would also refer him to my reply to a question by the hon. Member for Hamilton on the 9th instant, of which I am sending him a copy.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, whether, seeing that the maintenance of high transport charges represents an attempt on the part of the railway companies to preserve their position without loss under the prevailing industrial and commercial conditions of this country, he is prepared to support the demands of industry generally that the railway companies should bear their share of the common trade adversity; will he take steps to facilitate the reduction of transport charges and particularly those connected with the flat rate and the percentage increase on pre-War rates; and whether such percentage increase might be reduced immediately to 50 per cent. above pre-War rates without material loss to the railway companies?


The hon. and gallant Member will be aware that the Government possession of the railways ceased in August last, and that the Minister has no longer any jurisdiction over railway rates. Some reductions have already been made by the companies, who are, I understand, considering what further concessions can be made. It is, however, open to traders, under Section 60 of the Railways Act of last Session, to apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal for reductions in these rates.