§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether 1465 he is aware that the owner's risk conditions inserted by the railway companies in their contracts for conveyance of milk are a handicap to the industry of dairy-farming and frequently inflict upon the consignor, often a person of small means, financial loss consequent upon the carlessness of railway officials which the consignor is powerless to prevent; and whether, in view of the fact that consignment of milk subject to company's risk conditions would involve payment of a rate which would render dairy-farming unprofitable to the bulk of those engaged in it, the Board will, in deference to the unanimous and long-expressed wishes of agriculturists, take steps to bring about some modification of the onerous terms under which milk is at present conveyed by rail?
The conditions on which milk is carried at owner's risk were considered at the recent Railway Conference at the Board of Trade; a new form of words was settled defining the companies' liability, and I understand that the new conditions came into force throughout Great Britain on 1st January last. They place a liability upon the company in certain cases of loss or delay in transit, except on proof that such loss or delay has not been caused by negligence or misconduct on the part of the company or their servants. The previous conditions relieved the company from liability, except when the loss or delay was due to wilful misconduct, and left the onus of proof on the complainant. The conditions will be found in full on page 6 of the Report of the Conference. [Cd. 4677.]
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Is it not necessary henceforth for consignors to prove wilful misconduct on the part of the railway companies?
If the hon. Member wants further information, perhaps he will put a question on the Paper. I would rather not answer off-hand. It is rather a technical matter.