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Iron And Steel Trades (Railway Charges)

Volume 149: debated on Friday 16 December 1921

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport if he is aware that during the present year a number of workmen in the iron and steel trades in different parts of the country have had their wages reduced about 50 per cent.; that the managers of the various steel and iron works and the blast-furnace managers in the different parts of the country have energetically protested against the high railway freightage charged for their coal and other raw material that is used for the purpose of making their products; that Sir Hugh Bell, at Middlesbrough, on Tuesday, 13th December, stated to his board of directors that if the present railway rates were maintained it would ultimately lead to a stoppage of the iron and steel trades; and if he will take any action in the matter?

I understand that substantial reductions have taken place in the wages of workmen in the iron and steel trades. I am aware that representations have been made by the iron and steel manufacturers to the railway companies and understand that these representations are under the consideration of the companies. In view of the importance of the subject, I hope that their decision may be announced very shortly. As I stated in my reply to the hon. Member on the 9th November, the reduction of these rates can now be effected by the railway companies themselves. It is also open to any trader or representative body of traders under Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921, to apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal to reduce the rates.