The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
As our Railway Commissioners have now full power to impose "differential rates" in any and every form, and the public has no remedy whatever, either at law or by an appeal to Parliament, it may be as well if I give a few instances of what has been done under the iniquitous system which has how been legalised in New Zealand.
In order to work this vile "no system" effectively, the first thing to be done is to multiply and confuse the rates as much as possible, so that no one can understand them, and thus compel the public, as Mr. Maxwell says, to "apply at the station for their rate." Anyone who will take the trouble to study the Gazette will see how rapidly our Commissioners are bringing about this state of things.
On the Midland Railway of England there are over 30,000,000 rates. Who could pick the legal one from such a mass?
In my last paper I quoted Mr. Maxwell's statement that differential rating was not carried far enough in New Zealand, and also that "maximum rates might be fixed by law, and a suitable Court of Appeal constituted to prevent abuse of the powers given."
One hardly knows what to think of this suggestion of Mr. Maxwell's. Is he simply trying to throw dust in the eyes of the public, or is he so supremely in the dark as to what is going on in the railway world, as to believe that such a course could be any protection to the public.
Such a tribunal has been in existence in Great Britain since 1873; and here are a few examples of what the Railway Companies do every day in open defiance of it; indeed, with such thorough contempt do the Companies treat the law and the Railway Commissioners (whose business in Great Britain is to protect, not oppress, the public) that they do not hesitate to publish these excess charges in their rate books.