presented a Petition from the Mail Coach Proprietors and Innkeepers on the Holyhead-road, complaining of certain Post Office Regulations, and praying for a reduction in the Rate of Fares, charged by the Post Office Packets between Holyhead and Howth.
Sir Robert Bateson
said, he would take that opportunity of alluding to the state of the steam communication between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. There were only two small vessels of twenty horse power, and they were upon some occasions utterly unable to cross the channel. The inconvenience was so great, that the communication was frequently interrupted to the great loss of the merchants and traders. As a proof of the inefficiency of these 685 vessels, he would mention that one of them was actually driven back broad-side fore-most on the rocks at Portpatrick, and the whole crew was in the greatest danger of perishing. The Chamber of Commerce at Belfast had made a Representation to the noble Duke at the head of the Post Office Department, but the only reply they received was, that these packets had already plied between Dover and Calais, and were, therefore, fit to ply between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. He had heard the economy of the noble Duke highly lauded the other night, but he considered it was mistaken economy to perform the public service badly.
confirmed the statement of his hon. friend, and observed, that a great risk of life and loss of time to the community was not to be compensated for by a small saving to the revenue.
was as anxious as any man for economy, but he should like to see it practised in a different way from that of which the two hon. Members complained. He thought, however, the best way would be for hon. Members who complained of the present system to put down in writing the principle facts, in order to see how far they were borne out by the real state of the case. He had reason to believe that that there was a loss of 50,000l. or 60,000l. a year by the Liverpool and Dublin packets, and, unless something were done by Government, he should bring the subject speedily before the House. He would take that opportunity to again refer to the practice of the Clerks of the Post Office in Ireland, supplying newspapers, and he did intreat the noble Lord to put a stop to the public servants having an undue preference over the regular newsvender.
said, he could produce evidence, to prove the gross partiality which was practised in favour of the Clerks of the Roads supplying newspapers. It did seem extraordinary that persons who were paid salaries by the public for the performance of certain duties, should be allowed also to trade and have the privilege to step in between the fair trader and the public, to the manifest injury of both. He thought, that this question really deserved the attention of Government.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
said, he had no doubt the Petitioners were injured by the regulations complained of, and that the public also had reason to complain of these regulations, which had the effect of making a longer voyage the cheapest and most expe- 686 ditious. The Fares charged in the Post Office Packets limited that conveyance to the rich, and, he was convinced, that if the rates were reduced, one-half the public would profit by the alteration. He believed there was some mismanagement in this department of the revenue which wanted fully inquiring into.
§ Petition to be printed.