HC Deb 28 May 1852 vol 121 cc1337-52

rose to call the attention of the House to the tenders which were accepted from the Peninsular and Oriental Company on the 27th February, for the performance of the postal service between England, India, and China. He believed the matter which he had to bring under the consideration of the House was one of some importance. With respect to the large grants of money which were annually voted for the postal service between this and foreign countries, he doubted whether Parliament was justified in making those grants, interfering as they did directly with the shipping interest of this country, and tending wholly to prevent that wholesome competition by which alone full security could be given to the public in the matter of that communication. No less a sum than 800,000l. was annually voted by Parliament for that object, and he thought the public had a right to ask whether they received an equivalent for that large grant of public money. Taking, for instance, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, he found for that service that no less than 270,000l was annually voted by Parliament. He stated it on the highest commercial authorities in the city of London, that in nine times out of ten duplicates of commercial correspondence were received six or seven days before the originals, which were carried by another and more circuitous route. He said, in that instance, where the sum of 270,000l. was paid for rapid communication, that an equivalent was not furnished to the public by the Royal Mail Steam-packet Company, Again, as to the effects that those large grants of public money had in preventing public competition, he thought that was a matter so patent to all, that it was hardly necessary to adduce any argument in support of it. But if he might be allowed to cite an instance, perhaps he might take the case of a company against whom not a single word had ever been raised, and which had rendered most eminent services to the public—he meant the Cunard Company, by which the service was carried on between England and North America. That line bad been subjected to competition; and for the purpose of maintaining that competition a large grant of public money had been voted by Congress. He wished, however, to draw a broad distinction between the grants of public money which Parliament was justified in giving in order to maintain a system of steam communication between this country and the colonies—which it was so important to bind by a rapid communication with the mother country—and those grants of public money to which he had just referred. For his own part, he could not but think that it was a matter for Parliament to consider at a future time whether or not they were prepared to continue that system upon which they were called to expend so large a portion of the public money, or to come to some new arrangement in the matter. He thought the suggestion of Lord Auckland would have had a beneficial result, if carried into practice. That suggestion was to levy a steam postage. If that steam postage was levied, the pub-lie who benefited by that postage would have been called on to find the money, and not the public in general, who did not receive any advantage from it. Now, in regard to the immediate question of which he had given notice, namely, the postal service between this country and India and China, he thought the House would agree with him that, although a Government was not bound to act on the Report of a Committee; yet, when a Committee had had under its consideration facts which proved to them that the public were materially inconvenienced owing to the interference of Government in any matter, a Government was bound to pay some consideration to the Report of that Committee, more especially if that report was unanimously agreed to. He did not think that attention had been paid to the Report of a Committee which sat on this subject, and that was one ground why he asked for a public explanation. There was another ground on which he asked for explanation, namely, that if a Government put forward a document inviting tenders in a matter so important at this, he thought they were bound in justice to the public and the authorities to see that the proposal of each party tendering was impartially and fairly considered, and that no unfair bias was shown to one party more than another, otherwise doubts and suspicions would arise in the public mind as to the way in which those tenders had been dealt with. He submitted also that when a document had been laid on the table of the House, purporting to show the proposals of each company, that it should fairly and clearly state those proposals. There was another reason why he asked for explanation, and that was, that tenders of that description should not be decided in haste, but with due consideration, and certainly not by a defunct Government at the moment of its leaving office. Those were the main grounds on which he asked for explanation. The House was, no doubt, aware that the mail service with India had been mainly per- formed for the last six years by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company. For the India and China service that company received a sum of 280,000l. odd. The contract for that service expired in 1852. In the course of the last few years, various reports had reached this country in regard to the evil effects of that monopoly on the public. It was stated that the company had not taken advantage of those improvements in steam communication which they ought to have done, and that great difficulties were thrown in the way of passengers taking advantage of other lines; and various other charges were made in regard to the mode in which that service was conducted. At that time he had thought it his duty to ask Parliament to appoint a Committee to inquire into the question of steam communication with some of our colonies; and he thought himself justified in asking that the Committee should go into the question whether any and what improvements should be made in the future steam communication with India, China, and England. The Committee was appointed, and there were included in it three Members of Sir Robert Peel's Government, three of the late, and two of the present Government. The Committee entered into the whole question of steam communication to Australia and various parts of the world; and the second part of their report had a direct reference to steam communication with Australia, India, and China. They had evidence before them in making that report, that the statement of the inconveniences which the public had suffered on that line had not been materially overstated. They had likewise addresses before them from the Chambers of Commerce of Manchester, Liverpool, and other large towns, praying that in their recommendations to Parliament as to what should be done in reference to a new contract, they should advise that, whatever party had the contract, they should be tied down by stringent rules in respect to speed, the comfort of the passengers, and other matters of that kind. They had likewise evidence before them that in the course of the last few years our trade and commerce had increased rapidly on that line, and, taking those matters into their consideration, they thought that, whilst it had been proved before them that great inconvenience had accrued to the public, though they were not justified in proposing that the Government should interfere with any stringent rules in reference to their in- terior relations, yet that they were bound to see that no undue means were used to prevent competition. They stated— Whilst your Committee think that it is but fair to acknowledge the enterprising spirit which has been displayed by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company, in the general management of the communication which they have now conducted for some years, they are of opinion that the English and the Indian public have at times experienced considerable inconvenience; and it is certain also, that until the agitation of the question connected with the renewal of the contract brought the matter more prominently before the public, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company had done little towards introducing into their line those great and important improvements, as regards speed, which have of late years taken place in ocean steam navigation; of late, however, some of these vessels have undergone considerable improvement, and have been rendered competent to maintain a speed much in excess of the contract rate. They further stated— It has been suggested to your Committee, that in order to secure to the public the advantages of these communications, stringent rules should be laid down in any new engagement that may be entered into between the Government and the companies undertaking the service, and that rates of speed and fares should be fixed. Your Committee concur in these suggestions so far as regards the size of the vessels and the speed required, and they are of opinion that the penalties for failure in speed should be such as might be rigidly enforced when such failure cannot be satisfactorily accounted for; but they do not believe that there is any mode by which the full advantage of the communication can be secured to the passengers and traffic of India by the interference of Government in the internal arrangement and management of the affairs of a private company. The only mode in which this can be secured to the public is by the establishment of a wholesome competition. Those were the views unanimously expressed by the Committee, which included among its members the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and two other members of that Government. They had also before them the proposition of a fortnightly communication. They had before them, too, evidence that before any parties could be prepared to enter into a new arrangement, eighteen months' notice would be required. What took place? Four months after that Committee made their Report, tenders were invited by the Government. They divided the route into five different lines; but it was to the India and China line principally that he wished to draw the attention of the House. The tenders were returnable on the 26th of February. Two parties tendered—one, the Peninsular and Oriental Company, who tendered for the whole service; and the other, the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, who tendered for the single service, carrying out the views of the Committee so as to admit the principle of competition. Now he thought those two companies had a right to expect that the proposals they were to make for an important service like that should have been fairly stated; that there should have been no bias shown to either; and that all the circumstances connected with them should have been brought under an attention of Parliament? What were the facts? He hold in his hand a letter which passed between the Admiralty and the Treasury on the 27th of February, in which a statement was made of the services which each company proposed to perform. That letter was as follows:— Admiralty, Feb. 27, 1852. Sir—I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state for the information of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, that having issued advertisements for tenders for the conveyance of mails every fortnight between England, Calcutta, and Hong Kong, and every alternate month between Singapore and Sydney, and that having so arranged the conditions as to make parties to tender for portions of the service, instead of the whole, if they should prefer it, my Lords have received the following tenders:—1. From the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the whole of the mail services advertised, with the addition of a branch line between Bombay and Point de Galle, not mentioned in the conditions of tender, for the annual sum of 199,600l., which they offer to reduce to 179,600l. a year, six months after the completion of the railway across Egypt. 2. One from the Eastern Steam Navigation Company for a line once a month between England and Calcutta and Hong Kong, for the annual sum of 110,000l., to be reduced to 100,000l. in the event of Trieste being substituted for Marseilles as the port of embarkation. 2. One from the same company for the branch between Singapore and Sydney, in addition to the line previously mentioned, for the annual sum of 166,000l. My Lords, on comparing these tenders, find the first mentioned to be the lowest, since, on reducing the sums tendered to a mileage rate, it appears that the Peninsular and Oriental Company ask about 6s. 6d. a mile for the service required, without taking into account the additional branch they have volunteered to perform between Bombay and Point de Galle; and the Eastern Steam Navigation Company ask about 8s. a mile in their first tender, and about 10s. a milo as the average of the service mentioned in their second tender. Both companies undertake to maintain the same average speed, and to commence the Marseilles and Malta branch soon. The Peninsular and Oriental Company can commence the whole of the new service on the 1st of January next, and the Eastern Company twenty-one months after the date of the contract. My Lords do not see any sufficient reason for departing from the usual course of accepting the lowest tender.—I am, &c. (Signed) "W. A. B. HAMILTON. G. Cornewall Lewis, Esq., &c, Treasury. Now it was stated there that tenders were deceived from the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the whole of the mail service. That was not the fact. For No. 1, namely, the service of the line from England to Alexandria, they did tender, as also for No. 2, which was a similar one, and No. 3, which was the line from Suez to Point de Galle, and from Point de Galle to Calcutta; hut for No. 4, which was a similar line to No. 3, they did not wholly tender. They wholly omitted the direct line from Point de Galle to Singapore; hut instead of that they proposed a circuitous route, viâ Calcutta; and, more than that, they included in their calculation of mileage the line from Calcutta to Singapore, which was now carried out by the Peninsular and Oriental Company for nothing. He found it was also stated that the Peninsular and Oriental Company proposed the addition of a branch line between Bombay and Point de Galle, which was not mentioned in the letter he had read to the House. Now, what was done with the Eastern Steam Navigation Company? They stated that they proposed for the single service. But there was an extra service of no less than 86,000 miles proposed to he performed by the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, which was never alluded to in that letter. After referring to those circumstances, he thought he was justified in saying that was not a fair statement of the proposed services on the part of the late Government. He saw there were three lines at the end of the paper which it might suit the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) and other members of the late Government to try to shift on their successors. The letter from the Admiralty to the Treasury, in which those tenders were virtually accepted, was received on the 26th of February by a Government almost out of office, and was accepted by a Government on the 27th February, the day on which they came into office. In a question in which the public interest was so deeply involved, surely it was the duty of the late Government, some of whom had been members of the Committee to which he had referred, to have reflected on the monopoly they were creating, and not to have decided this important question in a few hours. The mode in which the tenders had been accepted had been such as to shake the confidence of the public in the way in which Government transacted business of the kind. He had heard motives attributed to some of the members of the late Government, which he would not for a moment entertain; but he repeated that their conduct had shaken the confidence of the public in them. He had no personal interest either in the one company or the other, but had taken the matter up: on public grounds. He had made some inquiries into the position of the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, and had found that it was a chartered company, and that its bond was signed by some of the best names of the city of London, and he believed it was a company which would have done the Government as good service as any other company. He regretted having in any manner delayed the progress of public business by bringing forward the subject, but felt that its importance warranted him in so doing. He would ask the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, considering the whole circumstances of the case, it was not possible for the present Government to reconsider the question.


Sir, I feel I have reason to complain of the inconvenience of bringing forward notices of this sort without making any Motion in respect to them. Although by the strict rules of the House, I know I have no right to address it upon this question, I hope that, by its courtesy, I may be permitted to enter into a brief explanation. In regard to the general subject—whether it is expedient or otherwise in the Government to assist a great enterprise of this kind by grants of the public money—although I acknowledge it to be one of the greatest importance, and deserving the best consideration, yet it does not appear to me to be a subject at all necessary for me at this moment to enter upon. I agree with the noble Lord in the great advantages of public competition in the public service. I wish, however, to confine my observations to the particular instance brought by the noble Lord under the notice of the House. Now the present Government is entirely responsible for the arrangement made. If it be unwise, the blame is with them. I will not shrink from the responsibility of that arrangement. It is true that this was the first official act which I was called upon to perform. It is true that I was in office only a few hours when the whole subject was brought under my notice, wholly unshackled by any requirements of my predecessors. To that question I gave my complete and unbiassed decision—that decision which the noble Lord now challenges. The House will permit me to refer to the memorandum which I drew up of the circumstances under which I treated that question. It appeared to me, that in November, 1851, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) had made certain propositions to the East India Company. 1. That the line to be established twice a month should be a branch line from Marseilles to Malta, and from thence to Alexandria, to be performed by contract—Her Majesty's ships to be discontinued. 2. That a line should be established from Suez to Point de Galle, and thence to Madras and Calcutta, twice a month, and a second line from Point de Galle to Singapore and Hong Kong, every second month from Singapore to Sidney, and twice a month from Aden to Bombay. 3. These services to be performed by contract with one or more companies, with the exception of the branch from Aden to Bombay, that to be performed by the East India Company. 4. That the payment of the contract service beyond the Isthmus of Suez should be charged upon the revenue of this country and of the East India Company in the same proportions as at present; and, 5thly, that this country should contribute a sum to the East India Company for the performance of the service between Aden and Bombay, calculated according to the nature and difficulty of the service performed. Now the East India Company assented to those propositions on the 8th November, 1815. On the 18th November, the Treasury desired the Admiralty to call for tenders for the performance of these services. That is precisely what has been done. On the 29th of February, 1852, the Admiralty reported upon the subject. On the 27th of February I had the honour of being installed into office, and on the 29th I was, of course, at my post. The tenders received were as follows:—The first was that of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for the whole of the mail services advertised for, with the addition of a branch line from Bombay to Point de Galle, not mentioned in the conditions of tender, for the sum of 199,600l., to be reduced to 179,600l. after the completion of the railway across Egypt. The second was from the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, for conveyance of the mails once a month between Calcutta and Hong-Kong, for 110,000l., to be re- duced to 100,000l. in the event of Trieste being substituted for Marseilles as the port of embarkation. The third was from the same company, for a branch between Singapore and Sidney, for 166,000l. The lowest sum, therefore, demanded by the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, was upon their first contract 100,000l., and upon their second 166,000l., making together 266,000l.; while the whole lowest amount of the tender of the Peninsular and Oriental was 179,600l., being a difference between the two of 86,400l. I therefore decided upon the tender of the latter company. The Peninsular and Oriental Company's tender was at the rate of 6s. 6d. a mile, with the additional offer volunteered of performing the line between Bombay and Point de Galle. The Eastern Steam Navigation Company's tender was at the rate of 8s. a mile for the first tender, and 10s. on the average per mile of the second tender. I had therefore to make my election between the offer of 6s. 6d. on the one hand, and 8s. and 10s. on the other. These facts having been put before me, I found that there was this difference between the two tenders, of 86,400l. This difference in the rate of mileage was very considerable. I had only one other point to convince myself of—namely, whether the one tender which was the cheapest was likely to prove equally as efficient as the other; and I availed myself of all the information I could command upon the subject. It appeared to me, however unwilling I might be to throw any discredit upon a rival and a young establishment, that the securities for the efficiency of the service offered by the Peninsular and Oriental Company, were considerably preferable to those offered for the service of the dearest company. That is my simple story. I felt that I was called upon to obtain the best service, and I did so at the cheapest rate. I believe that within an hour after I had taken my seat in Downing-street, I received a deputation from the Eastern Steam Navigation Company; and I must say that their case was put before me in a forcible manner. I had also several communications written to me from the same company; and I am sure that there has been no neglect exhibited on the part of those who are entrusted with their affairs to bring the whole circumstances of their case before me. From the most impartial consideration it was in my power to give to the subject, I decided in favour of a service which I believe, must eventually prove the most efficient, and at the most economical rate. On the 5th of March the offer of the Peninsular and Oriental Company was accepted. I hope that this statement will exonerate me from any blame in this transaction. I feel that I have made an arrangement which will prove the most serviceable. The service required by the Government is now to be performed by an experienced company in a manner which we think will prove efficient, and which must be universally acknowledged to be at a more economical rate than the rival company. The report of the Committee to which the noble Lord has referred, is no doubt a very able one, and well worthy the attention of the House. But the Government were to be guided by the tenders; and if the Eastern Steam Company did not comply with those tenders, which required an offer for the complete service, while they only offered for a partial service, and fell back upon the recommendations of the Committee as the justification of their conduct, I must say that they have not taken such steps as might have been expected of men of business. The Eastern Steam Navigation Company have no right to complain in the matter, as every anxiety was shown to deal fairly by them. I have entered into these details for the satisfaction of the House, and, therefore, I hope I shall be excused in the matter, as I have done so chiefly to exonerate the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) and the Government of which he was a member, from the charges brought against them. When I succeeded to the office of that right hon. Gentleman, I had, of course, confidential communication with him respecting the business of the office he had filled, and in those communications the right hon. Gentleman called my attention to the arrears of that business. And I hope, whenever I quit office, that I shall leave as few arrears after me as that right hon. Gentleman. Among other matters, the right hon. Gentleman called my notice to this question; and it is only justice to the right hon. Gentleman to state, that he did not in any way whatever attempt to bias my opinion upon the subject. Under these circumstances, I proceeded to the settlement of the question quite unshackled in my views, and altogether free from prejudice. I decided it on its merits; and I hope, as I believe, that decision is the best that could be arrived at for the country.


said, that as a Member of the Committee over which the noble Lord (Viscount Jocelyn) presided, he must say that Committee had unanimously decided that the contracts should be thrown open and be given to different lines. If, therefore, a Chancellor of Exchequer was to turn his back on the Report of this Committee, it rendered the labours of Committee null and void. The effect of the decision of the right hon. Gentleman was to bolster up a monopoly at the expense of the public.


said, he was surprised to find in the Report of the Eastern Steam Navigation Company (whose mouthpiece the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had made himself that evening) that he was charged with having cordially concurred in the recommendation of the Committee that the service should be necessarily given to two companies, and afterwards with having turned round and decided against the Eastern Steam Navigation Company. Both these statements were utterly without foundation. The fact mentioned by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of a deputation having waited upon him on the subject, proved that he (Sir C. Wood) had come to no decision on the subject. In addition to this, the Treasury Minute accepting the offer of the Peninsular Company was not dated until a week after he had left office. Every one knew the meaning ordinarily attached to the word "competition;" but the competition which the noble Lord sought for was, that, at whatever price, there should be two companies to carry out the contract. But what an opening that afforded to jobbing and all kinds of unfair practices! Why, if he were to give one portion of the service to one company, and another to another, without any competition for the same, there would be no limit to the favour, monopoly, and jobbing that might result from it. The accusation of the noble Lord was against him personally, that he had given a decision contrary to his own opinion. The ground on which that charge had been made against him was totally without foundation; and, grateful as he was to the noble Lord for having brought this subject forward, and for his courtesy in having apprised him by letter of his intention to do so, he thought that this courtesy would have been better applied, and his justice too, if, before he had made the charge, he had taken the trouble to inquire whether there was any founda- tion for it. The Admiralty letter, dated the 27th of February was brought to him in the morning; but he declined to decide, as he was going to leave office in a few hours, and wished to leave those who were to succeed him entirely unfettered. The facts of the case were simply these: The Peninsular and Oriental Company offered to perform the five services for 179,600l., whilst the Eastern Steam Company offered to perform three for 266,000l. The country gained, therefore, 86,400l. by accepting the offer of the latter company. He thought the present Government had decided perfectly right, for the question did not admit of the slightest doubt. If he had been actuated by any unworthy motives, as the noble Lord had insinuated—[Viscount JOCELYN: I never insinuated anything of the kind]—he would not have acted as he had done. The Government were bound, certainly, to take the most advantageous contract; but the lowest was not always the most advantageous. He warned the House against being led away by contracts of the kind referred to. Last year he received no less than seven private applications from the Eastern Steam Navigation Company to enter into the contract with them, but he had refused to entertain them; and he again warned the House not to sanction a course of conduct which would open the door to an amount of jobbing and corruption never before heard of.


I wish to call it to the recollection of the House that I distinctly stated I did not attribute any unworthy motives to the right hon. Gentleman.


said, he thought it exceedingly unfair to say a company did not tender for the whole of the service, because they made a difference of 73 miles on the whole voyage. The noble Lord was more influenced than he was aware of by the statements of the company which had not gained the contract, it was natural directors should endeavour to throw the blame the shareholders would fix upon them for not making tenders which could be accepted, on other shoulders than their own; but in their report the directors of the Eastern Steam Company had done more than any company was entitled to do, for they had not only misrepresented figures, but had stated what was absolutely-untrue. The decision of the Admiralty was shown to be correct, and he was glad that Her Majesty's Government supported the result at which the Treasury and Admiralty of the late Government had after the fullest investigation arrived.


being a director of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, declined to enter into the merits of the discussion raised by the noble Lord (Viscount Jocelyn), and would confine himself to two statements. The noble Lord had stated that the Peninsular and Oriental Company did not make a tender for the whole service, including Calcutta and China. If the noble Lord had consulted the papers, he would have found that in the conditions the service to Calcutta and China were included. The noble Lord had also said that the Peninsular and Oriental Company had already a service on that line. That was true; but it was only during the season for the conveyance of opium to China, and transmission of specie to Calcutta, that the vessels ran


said, that there was one circumstance connected with the tenders for this service, in which the port which he represented was interested. If the tender which had not been successful had been accepted, the Eastern Steam Navigation Company would have landed the mails at Plymouth instead of Southampton. He believed the time had come when the Government ought to take into consideration the claims of Plymouth as a port of departure for the mails. It had natural advantages as great as any port in England for that service, and being the nearest port in the Channel for the arrival of vessels from all parts of the world, there would be a great saving of time if the mails and passengers were discharged there. This difference between Southampton and Plymouth in that respect caused a delay in the delivery of the mails of several days in the northern and western parts of England. He believed the present arrangement would not have continued so long but for the fact of there being no railway communication completed to Plymouth; but that was now effected, and the electric telegraph at work on the whole line, so that in a very short time Plymouth would be enabled to offer superior advantages to Southampton. He would therefore urge on the Government the consideration of the public interests which would be affected by a great saving by the landing of the mails at Plymouth, and the saving of a long Channel voyage to passengers.


said, that he did not rise to speak as a counsel, but as a witness on this question. He was not about to enter into the question of the circumstances alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir C. Wood), and his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with regard to the tenders made, and the contract that had been entered into. He (Lord Stanley) was a member of the Committee that sat on the subject over which the noble Lord (Viscount Jocelyn) had presided most ably and industriously; and if it was possible to apply the principles of competition under the circumstances, he (Lord Stanley) would have been an advocate for it. But when the Government requires tenders to be made, they must be regulated by two principles—either to accept the lowest tender, apart from all other considerations: or to accept that by which it was thought the service would be most efficiently performed, irrespective of its being the lowest tender. He believed that, in adopting either the one or the other of these principles, it was impossible to act otherwise than to accept the tender of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, which was at once the lowest and the best. There was a saving to the public of about twenty-five per cent; and, with regard to the manner in which the service was performed (which was the cause of his rising to address the House), he believed it was as efficiently performed by the Peninsular and Oriental Company as it could be by any other navigation company now existing. He had heard an objection urged, that the rate of speed of the vessels was not as great as that of other companies. The vessels which made the most rapid passages were Cunard's, but they had only about 3,000 miles to perform, and laid in coals only for each voyage; whereas the Peninsular and Oriental Company's vessels on the Asiatic side, came to Suez from Calcutta, and returned with only one loading of coal, and they were also obliged to supply themselves with stores for the double voyage. Of course vessels so loaded could not be as fast as others which were only loaded for a voyage of 3,000 miles. He did not say the arrangements of the company were perfect; but he could say, having been lately a passenger in their vessels, they were much improved, and that their accommodations were good. He still believed that the public interest would be best served by their being no monopoly, but there was nothing to censure in the Peninsular and Oriental Company in their mode of doing their duty, and he thought it would even be desirable that they should take charge of the line now served by the East India Company's navy from Bombay to Aden.


begged to correct the statement of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), that the steamers only coaled once for the double voyage from Suez to Calcutta. They coaled also at Point de Galle. It had been said that complaints were made of the Peninsular and Oriental Company; but he was able, from information he had received from India, and from the position he had held under the Government, to bear testimony to their punctuality, and to state that, in carrying out the long line between this country and India, they deserved the greatest credit.


had not stated that the vessels coaled at no other place than Calcutta, but that the steamers from Suez to Calcutta took in the greater portion of their coals for the double voyage.