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REPORTS OF STANDING COMMITTEES.
Mr. CORNELIUS N. Bliss, Chairman of the Executive Committee, reported the following nained candidates for membership, and recommended their election :
WARREN S. SILLCOCKS.
James P. WALLACE.
These gentlemen were, on one ballot, unanimously elected members of the Chamber,
Mr. Bliss stated the Committee bad had under consideration the Inter-State Commerce Bill, now before the United States Senate, and that a report had been prepared by a Sub-Committee of their number, which he submitted, as follows:
To the Chamber of Commerce :
The undersigned Committee, requested by the Executive Committee of this Chamber, to examine the bill known as Senate Bill 1,532, to Regulate Commerce, beg leave respectfully to report, that, upon analysis of the bill in question, the following provisions are found to be embodied therein :
ANALYSIS OF THE Bill.
SECTION 1. The bill is not to apply to the transportation of passengers or property wholly within any one State. It declares that all charges made for or in connection with any transportation (covered by the bill) shall be reasonable and just, and all others are prohibited and declared to be unlawful.
Sections 2 and 3 prohibit, directly or indirectly, any special rebate or drawback, and any discrimination in charges against any person, firm or locality, or against any particular description of traffic, in transportation of passengers or property, under like, or substantially like circumstances and conditions ; and also requires that every common carrier subject to the provisions of this Act, shall accord all reasonable, proper and equal facilities for the interchange of traffic between their respective lines, but provides “ this “shall not be construed as requiring any such common carrier to "give the use of its tracks or terminal facilities to another carrier
engaged in like business.”
SECTION 4 makes it unlawful for any common carijer to charge or receive any greater compensation for the transportation of passengers or property, under substantially like circumstances and conditions, for a shorter than for a longer baul over the same line in the same direction, unless the common carrier receive, in special cases, after investigation, authority from the Commission to charge less for the longer than for the shorter haul; and the Commission is empowered to prescribe the extent to which the common carrier may be relieved from the operation of this section of the Act. SECTION 5 is an absolute probibition against pooling in any
form. SECTION 6 obliges the common carrier to plainly print in large type, and keep for public inspection, schedules showing the rates and fares, including terminal charges, for the transportation of passen. gers and property, and which shall also include the classification of freight in force upon such railroad. It also provides that no change in rates shall be inade without ten days previous public notice thereof; and, further, that every common carrier shall file with the Commission copies of all contracts, agreements or arrangements with other common carriers in relation to any traffic affected by the provisions of this Act; it also provides for the enforcement of these provisions by the Circuit Court of the United States.
SECTION 7 makes it unlawful for a common carrier to enter into any contract or agreement, express or implied, or, by other means and devices, to prevent the carriage of freights from being continuous from the place of shipment to the place of destination.
SECTIONS 8, 9 and 10 prescribe the damages for a violation of this Act, and methods of legal procedure.
SECTIONS 11 to 17 provide for a Commission of five persons, to be appointed by the President; regulates their terms of office; defines their qualifications, one of which is, that they shall not hold stock or bonds of any carrier embraced within the bill ; also their powers and duties, and prescribes their relations to the Courts, and further, outlines the legal proceedings connected with the enforcement of this Act.
SECTION 18 fixes the annual salary of each Commissioner at $7,500, and provides for a Secretary at $3,500 per annum, and allows mileage to Commissioners when travelling.
SECTION 19 establishes the office of the Commission at Washing. ton City, but permits Commissioners to prosecute inquiries, and hold special sessions in any part of the United States, when so required by circumstances or necessity.
Section 20'requires full annual reports from all common carriers, subject to the provisions of this Act.
Sectio:21 requires a report to be made annually to the Secretary of ine Interior, to be by him transmitted to Congress; said report to contain any information and data collected by the Commission, with such recommendations for additional legislation as view may deem necessary.
Section 22 excludes from operation of this law property carried 'free for the United States, the States, or municipal governments, or for charity.
Section 23 appropriates $100,000 for the purposes of this Act, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1888.
Your Committee believe that the national welfare requires that an Inter-State Commission should be appointed, and they are of the opinion that this bill, in its main features, has been carefully considered and wisely framed.
They believe that the absolute publicity and uniformity required by this bill will largely cure the evils of which the public have in former years had good reason to complain. They believe that experience has demonstrated that secret rates, drawbacks and like devices for concealing discriminations, on the part of the common carriers, to favored persons, firms or localities, have been the principal cause of the public dissatisfaction with railroad management.
Your Committee believe that rates on the railroads should be as uniform, under like circumstances, and as well known to the public as Custom Hlouse duties.
Your Committee is of opinion that (Section 4) the prohibition to charge more for a shorter haul than a longer one is objectionable and certain to work against the public welfare. If enacted, it would do little good to any one.
Local rates would not be thereby reduced, but “through traffic,” which, on the average, furnishes not to exceed one-quarter of the revenues of the trunk lines, would be either refused, or raised to a standard of local rates-thus obstructing and materially decreasing the moving and exportation of cotton, grain, petroleum and other products. Upon the utmost freedom in making through contracts from the West to the seaboard depends the development of the entire West and its farming lands. The gigantic results already witnessed, due to the fortuitous combinations of railroads and water transportation, and the ability to carry this through traffic for trifling additional cost, and so far at very moderate rates of freight, has produced a wealth to the whole nation so far exceeding any possible local benefits to be gained by the proposed prohibition, as to forbid its consideration. Nor is this provision necessary to protect the local resident from imposition ; his remedy is provided in the bill, quite independent of the through traffic. If a local rate is unjust it must be remedied ; but the consideration thereof must depend upon the particular surroundings and circumstances of that individual case, and not upon that of others further on the line, who may have competing roads, water transportation and many other things, affecting rates of freight not at all applicable to the case in question. One immediate and inevitable effect of such a prohibition would be to divert most important volumes of freight to competing Canadian roads running to the seaboard.
As to Section 5, your Committee is also of opinion that the absolute prohibition against pooling is unwise, and much more likely to work injuriously to the public than beneficially. If it be considered, it will be evident that most if not all of the evils of unequal rates, discriminations and partiality have arisen from unrestricted competition, the only result aimed at by the proposed prohibition. Whilst a uniform tariff between all competing lines, arranged upon planes of equity to all shippers, and enforced by an agreed volume of tonnage apportioned to each road, the very end to be accomplished by the bill itself-and this is a pooling." Its actual opera.
“ tion has been to do away with discriminations against individuals and localities ; it has secured greater uniformity of rates ; it has been found of greater advantage to shippers to deal with a “pool commissioner, representing all the trunk lines, than to be compelled to confer with many officials in detail-as instanced in the late Dry Goods Classification agreement-its existence has secured a steadily decreasing average rate of freight, which has developed during the whole period of “ Pooling." In general the system seems to have
. been productive of good to the public, and in many instances where injustice has arisen it has been from lack of good faith to keep its conditions, on the part of the common carrier. Whilst, on the other hand, its tendency has been to avoid disastrous railroad wars, entailing upon the investors serious loss, and always productive of disastrous effects upon the laboring classes and the commerce of the country.
For these reasons this Committee would urge, that any action looking to prohibition of pooling be at least deferred, and the subject be referred (as was originally proposed by the Senate Bill on this subject) to the Commission to be established by this bill, for full investigation, report and suggested legislation, if they deem any needed in the future. It is true that the framers of this bill, evidently fearing the strict operation of Section 4, (as it regards the long and short haul,) have lodged the discretion with the Commissioners to limit or suspend, after investigation, its operation in certain cases.
And if it be wise to confide to them so great a power, it cannot be unreasonable to leave the whole subject (affected by Sections 4 and 5) to them and their discretion, which would be the case were no clauses of this character contained in the bill. If any (liscrimination of an unjust character arises, the Commissioners are fully vested with power to investigate and correct the same, and this seems to be all that is required at present, and until more experience is gained by the Commission.
To this Chamber the public are largely indebted for the investigasions of the Hepburn Committee, which led to the appointment of the Railroad Commission of this state. This Commission has proved eminently satisfactory both to the public and the railroads, and has performed great public service.
The experience of our State Railroad Commission should furnish a valuable guide and precedent for the larger and more important duties of an Inter-State Commission. When a law was passed creating a Railroad Commission in this State, the powers and duties of the State Commission were largely advisory. This Chamber was of the opinion that the powers of this Commission were too limited, but experience has demonstrated that the law was wise and salutary. The advice of the Commission to the Railroad Managers has been followed in most instances, in spirit if not in letter. Publicity and public opinion have satisfactorily supplied the place of mandatory provisions of the law in this State.
In conclusion, your Committee beg leave to offer the following resolutions :
Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce approve of Senate Bill, known as 1,532, with the exceptions of Section 4, probibiting greater charges for the shorter than the longer baul, and also Section 5, which contains an absolute provision against pooling. They believe these sections, for reasons stated in above report, should be stricken out or amended as suggested herein.
2d. Resolved, That as the Commissioners under the proposed law will be charged with important and intricate business duties, they should, as far as the political and non-partisan considerations mentioned in the bill will admit, be selected with reference to their experience and knowledge of the business interests of the country, and that the agricultural, commercial and railroad interests should all be represented upon such a Commission. All of which is respectfully submitted. (Signed) CHARLES S. SMITH,
Cornelius N. Bliss, Committee.
A. Foster HIGGINS, NEW-YORK, January 4, 1887.
Mr. HENRY HENTZ moved the adoption of the report and resolutions.
Mr. Francis B. TUURBER seconded the motion.
The President put the question, and the report and resolutions were, without discussion, unanimously adopted.
Mr. JACKSON S. SCHULTZ thereupon offered the following resolution :
Resolved, That a copy of the report and resolutions, authenti