HC Deb 04 August 1834 vol 25 cc915-9
Mr. Robert Wallace

then presented a Petition from the Chamber of Commerce of Greenock, praying for a communication by Steam Packets to and from the Clyde. The hon. Member proceeded to detail the inconvenience and delay occasioned by the present mode of transmitting letters by the Post-office, and stated, that the feeling in favour of a communication by steam was very general throughout that part of Scotland. He understood that offence had been taken by the Secretary of the Post-office at some observations which he had felt it his duty to make in that House. He would take that oppor- tunity of stating, that he should be extremely sorry to say anything that would be offensive to the private feelings of any man; all he asked for was, that the Post-office would sanction the Returns he had moved for, and give him an opportunity of unsaying, or making the most ample reparation in his power. He would repeat, however, that he believed a great many of the statements he had made had more or less of justice in them. He had now to call the attention of the House to a breach of the privileges of that House in his person, the particulars of which he was not apprized of when he last addressed it. In fact, he was only that morning apprized of it by an hon. Member, who had given him permission to mention his name, should it be necessary. That hon. Member had shown him a large bundle of letters, amounting to about thirty, which had been delivered to him this morning free of postage, although all that came to him (Mr. Wallace) over the usual number, were charged. On remonstrating with Sir Francis Freeling, the answer he received was, that he thought the hon. Member should be excused, as many of the letters might have been posted in Dublin on Friday, to suit their arrival in London. He had submitted the case to his Majesty's Postmaster-General; and the reply was, that the law did not allow of the delivery of more than fifteen on any one day. He felt himself bound to bring this statement before the House; and he would again repeat, that in whatever way he had spoken of the persons connected with the office, he must say, that the business of that office was conducted with a degree of secrecy which had tended much to induce the feeling he had entertained upon the subject. In conclusion, he would in-treat the hon. member for Northampton, to impress upon his Majesty's Postmaster-General, the absolute necessity of abolishing the regulation by which the postage of letters going to any part of the Continent were directed to be paid here, and allowing them to be paid for on either side of the water. There was no security that the letter would be forwarded after the postage had been paid, and he feared that many persons could be found who would pocket a shilling, and throw a letter in the fire. He trusted the subject would be attended to by the Postmaster-General, as it was one which excited very general discontent throughout the coun- try, there being no assurance or security of any kind, that, after the postage had been paid, the letter would be forwarded, as was the case in France and Germany.

Lord William Lennox

did not rise to enter generally into the subject of Post-office improvements; he merely wished to correct an error which the hon. member for Greenock had fallen into. That hon. Member, in his suggested alterations, had stated, that in England no security was given when the postage of a letter was paid for its safe delivery, either to go abroad, or for home circulation, but in France and Germany a guarantee was given. Now such was not the case. It was perfectly true that in France and Germany, by paying an additional sum to the postage of the letter by way of insurance, a guarantee of safe delivery was given, but without that insurance no greater security was granted than that in our own country. He thought the English Post-office infinitely better conducted than foreign Post-offices; delays, mistakes, and losses being notoriously greater abroad than at home. When the subject was brought next Session before the House, he would enter more fully into it; on the present occasion he had confined himself to correcting an error the hon. member for Greenock had unintentionally been led into, and he felt that the English public would not wish to incur the additional expense of insuring letters, when by following the present system every security was given to prevent accidents happening.

Mr. Vernon Smith

said, that with respect to the steam communication urged by the hon. member for Greenock, in many instances communication by land was more speedy. With respect to the alteration in the mail from Glasgow to Greenock, the alteration was advantageous, inasmuch as the letters now passed at the rate of eleven miles an hour, whereas formerly the coach travelled only at the rate of eight miles an hour. He regretted that the hon. Member, after bestowing so many compliments on the Post-office department, should charge them with giving an exclusive privilege to one of the Members of that House. If the charge were true, it must have arisen from accident. He was not one of those that wished to extend the power of franking; the public was desirous that it should be diminished. He did not think that the hon. Member had any just cause of complaint, and he hoped that the hon. Member would not press the Resolutions which stood on the Order-book.

Mr. Shaw

said, he certainly had received more than fifteen letters on a Monday, and he believed that he was not charged for those above the number of fifteen, in consequence of an application which he had made to the Post-office department. Those letters were posted on Friday and Saturday, and arrived partly on Sunday and partly on Monday. When, therefore, the number of letters for each day did not exceed fifteen, it seemed fair that he should not be charged with them, as he would not be if the letters were delivered on Sunday.

Mr. Hume

said, that according to the Act of Parliament, Members ought to receive their letters every day in the week. This was the case everywhere out of London; but in London alone, where Members might have an opportunity of attending to them, letters were not received. He had frequently been compelled to pay for his letters on the Monday morning, but always did so under protest, and he considered that he was robbed every time he did so. Every Member ought to receive his letters every day in London, and out of it, and the neglect of the Post-office, in this respect, was a grievance which ought to be attended to.

Mr. Herries

could bear testimony to the excellent manner in which the Post-office was conducted. At the same time, there seemed to be a want of some regulations respecting the delivery of letters on Sundays and Mondays. The Post-office ought, in his opinion, to consider the number of letters received each day, and if they did not exceed the number of fifteen for each day, to deliver them on Monday free of postage.

Mr. Wallace

in reply, said, that there ought to be a delivery of letters on Sunday to every man who chose to call for them; and if they were not delivered after this Session, he would make a demand for them. He did not want a delivery in the streets. With respect to the mail-coach from Glasgow to Greenock, that had been given up as a matter of economy, and at the suggestion of the contractors. He was aware that an immense sum was paid upon foreign letters, but he hoped such a system would never be introduced into this country.

The Petition to lie on the Table.

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