§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
asked the Minister of Transport whether he has received protests being made by the regular coasting companies of the United Kingdom as to their exclusion from preferential 618W treatment extended to the railway companies under the Local Government Bill as from 1st December, 1928, whereby an allowance of 10 per cent. is made to shippers; and, if so, will he agree to reconsider the appeal of the Chamber of Shipping?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that considerable dissatisfaction prevails in coasting shipping circles regarding the arrangement whereby the benefits of de-rating are being anticipated in respect of railways and not in respect to coastal shipping; and can he see his way to give the same benefit to coastal shipping as he has given to railways?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I have received representations from the Chamber of Shipping and other bodies in which the fear has been expressed that the anticipation of railway freight relief approved by the House in November last may result in the diversion of traffic from sea routes to the railways. On the evidence placed before us we do not consider that the apprehensions of substantial or permanent diversion of traffic are well founded. I would remind the hon. Member that the measure of relief from the burden of railway charges, which has been anticipated at the urgent request of the depressed industries, is concentrated upon a relatively narrow range of traffics, the bulk of which does not affect coastwise shipping. In the circumstances the Government do not see their way to subsidise the carriage of goods coastwise, or to anticipate during the few months which will elapse before the operation of the permanent scheme of de-rating the relief from local rates of the Dock and Harbour Authorities, a course which in view of the large number and diversity of the undertakings concerned would present serious practical difficulties.