asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the high railway rates of charges for carrying coal, coke, ironstone, lime, and other raw materials in connection with making pig iron, which is to a great extent crippling the industry; that pig-iron sent from various parts of Derbyshire to Birming ham is now 10s. per ton where the pre-War days it was 4s. 6d.; if he is prepared to receive a deputation from the managers and delegates of the blast-furnace workers who are connected with the board of con ciliation for blast furnaces and ironstone quarries in the Nottingham district; and if he will take action in the matter?
Substantial reductions have recently been made in the rates for iron ore, ironstone, and limestone for blast furnaces and steel works in Great Britain, and I am informed that a meeting between representatives of the railway companies and the Iron and Steel Federation has been fixed for to-morrow to discuss the question of railway rates affecting these industries. The reduction of these rates is a matter which is now within the discretion of the railway companies, and, under Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921, it is also open to any trader or representative body of traders to apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal to reduce the rates. In the circumstances, I should hardly feel justified in asking a deputation to wait upon me. I may add that the hon. Member somewhat overstates the increase in the rates on pig-iron conveyed from Derbyshire to Birmingham.