asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport if he is aware that the railway-rate for a ton of bar-iron from Low Moor to Liverpool, which is £1 11s. 4d., instead of 14s. 5d. in 1914, was fixed in September, 1920, and has not been reduced, notwithstanding the decrease in the price of coal and wages employed in the transport; and, seeing that such a high freight rate operates prejudicially to any improvement in the export trade of iron, whether he will explain the reason for the delay that takes place in the reduction of the rates?
I understand that the rates for a 1-ton lot would be as stated in the first part of the question, and as regards the latter part I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of the 1st instant. He will be aware no doubt that within the last few days the companies have agreed to further modifications in charges for certain classes of traffic to come into operation on the 22nd instant.
Is the Minister satisfied with these reductions which were published last Saturday, and in a case like this, where a high charge has continued for a long time after expenses have fallen, should they not discount any future fall which is likely to take place and moderate the charges?
The matter is one in which the Minister is unable to take any effective action. It lies with the railway companies, subject to a public right of appeal, to fix the charges.