HC Deb 17 August 1835 vol 30 cc608-9
Mr. Wallace

rose to ask a question of the President of the Board of Control on the interesting subject of the proposed communication with the East-Indies by the Red Sea or by the Euphrates. The East-India Company had agreed to take measures for establishing an intercourse by the Red Sea, but they had failed; and on Friday last the Directors had put up a notice, stating that the mails for April, May, June, and July, might not be carried forward to India. He did not impute blame to any quarter, because he was ignorant whether it was deserved; but he wished to press upon the Government, the East-India Company, and the Post-office, the propriety of taking immediate steps to forward the correspondence. He would take leave to say, that he much feared the attempt to establish a communication by the Euphrates would not succeed, but he had better hopes of the route by the Red Sea. It was a strange fact, that one hundred millions of the King's subjects had no direct communication with Europe.

Sir John Hobhouse

would say a few words in answer to the hon. Member. The notice of the Court of Directors was given to prevent mistakes, which they feared would occur if it were delayed, The Chair- man of the Court of Directors had proposed it, and he had concurred in it. As to a steam communication with India, he feared that there was too much reason for the fears expressed by the hon. Member. The East-India Company had not taken the steps expected from them for a direct communication from Suez to Bombay, by the Red Sea, but by private letters from Bombay it appeared that a steam-boat was to sail from thence to Suez on the 12th of July; but it had already twice attempted the passage, and had been obliged to put back. It was his duty to mention, that last week the Board with which he was connected, and the Directors of the East-India Company, had come to a determination to build two large steam-vessels to be placed on the Bombay station; but the real reason why more earnest steps had not been taken for this most useful purpose was a regard to the dilapidated finances of the Company. The object was, however, one of a national importance, and should receive every attention. The hon. Member had thrown out an opinion as to the failure of the route by the Euphrates. What might be the ultimate issue, he could not pretend to say; but he had his opinion, and the last advices were favourable. He had letters from Aleppo and Antioch, both of the 19th of June, stating that all difficulty had been removed as to the conveyance of stores, and that some of them had reached a place on the road, and that they were on the road across the mountains to Bere. But supposing this expedition to succeed, it would still be the duty of the King's Government to take steps for the regular navigation of the Red Sea. The House was, perhaps, aware that the southwest monsoons blow there for two or three months of the year with so much violence, that gentlemen whom he had seen were of opinion that no steam-boat, of whatever size and power, would be able to face them. He would assure the hon. Member that all possible attention should be paid to the subject, and the Admiralty had issued orders to the Rear-Admiral on the Malta station, to make a full investigation of the facilities in that quarter, and a report was shortly expected from him. He hoped he had given the hon. Member a full, if not in all respects a satisfactory answer.