§ MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the railway companies in England have increased the rates on agricultural produce 5 per cent, since 1st January, 1893; and, whether he will take steps to have the rates reduced to their former standard?
§ MR. RITCHIE
No, sir, I am not aware that there has been any such general increase. The effect of the Provisional Order Schedules was to materially reduce rates on certain commodities. It is true that some companies have increased rates in specific cases, and the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894, was passed to deal with such increases. Where traders have complaints to make on that score they should follow the procedure laid down by the Act. On this matter it is satisfactory for me to be able to mention that the Great Eastern Railway Company contemplate a considerable reduction of rates for agricultural produce.
§ MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
asked if the right hon. Gentleman contemplated taking any action as to preferential rates on foreign produce.
MR, T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
asked whether, since January, 1893, the Companies had not increased their rates to an amount not exceeding 5 per cent., not only on agricultural, but other produce.
§ MR. RITCHIE
replied that what was done was this. He understood that a line was drawn by those who drew up the schedule, and all rates on one side of the line had to be reduced, but rates below the line were not affected at all. Several rates running below the line had been brought up to the line. Preferential rates were, of course, for the Courts of Law.