§ 53. Dr. CHAPPLE
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the estimated saving of £10,000,000 per annum to the railway companies due to the reduction in the price of the coal consumed in railway traffic; and whether he contemplates any legislation calculated to relieve the coal industry of its crushing burden of freight cost to an extent commensurate with the reduction in the price of coal?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)
I have been asked to reply. In regard to the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I am to-day giving to the Noble Lord the Member for Nottingham South. As to the second part, I would remind the hon. Member that, under Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921, coal trade organisations and other bodies of traders may apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal for reduction of railway charges, and the tribunal may make such modification as they deem just. I see no reason to propose amending legislation.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, even with the very limited conditions of inquiry into the cost of the distribution of coal, it was agreed that both the producers and the consumers suffer considerably owing to the cost of distribution? Do not the 2314 hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister think that it is time there was a full inquiry into the cost of distribution in the coal industry, with a view to doing justice to the consumer?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
The remedy is in the hands of the miners' organisation. If they will apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal and put their case they will surely get some reduction if their case is as strong as the hon. Member represents.