HC Deb 07 March 1853 vol 124 cc1225-7

said, he put a question to the hon. Secretary for the Treasury, which he had placed on the paper for Friday last, namely—Whether the Lords of the Treasury would allow an examination to be made by the officers of Her Majesty's Customs, at the examination room at the London-bridge terminus of the South Eastern Railway, of the baggage of passengers leaving Paris for London by the 7.30 p.m. train, and crossing from Calais to Dovor by Her Majesty's mail packets, under such regulations as might be thought necessary for the protection of the revenue, with a view to the doing away with the inconvenience and detention now suffered by passengers when the voyage of the mail packet was so lengthened as to prevent that examination taking place at Dovor in time for the passengers to leave thereafter by the train in correspondence with the mail packet which arrives in London at 7.50 a. m.? He would observe that in 1847, when there was a prospect of the railway communication with Paris being opened, he waited on the French Government to inquire if they would allow the baggage of passengers arriving in Franco for Paris, to be examined there without detention at the port of Boulogne; his request was immediately acquiesced in. Now what he wished to know was, whether corresponding facilities could not be afforded here?


Sir, the question of which the hon. Gentleman gave notice, had reference exclusively to the night mail from Paris—departing from Paris at half-past seven o'clock, and arriving in London about eight o'clock in the morning. It is but fair, in justice to the Commissioners of Customs, to say, that it is their desire to afford the greatest possible facility to passengers. One of the arrangements that has been made by them in reference to this particular question is, that their officers should remain up all night, in order to examine the baggage at the station, prior to the departure of the mail train for London. I am further bound to say that it appears on inquiry, that the arrival of the boats, especially in winter, is very uncertain, and that, on the departure of the mail trains it frequently happens that passengers are left behind, and more frequently that their luggage is left behind. I have had a communication with the Commissioners of Customs on the matter, and, after consideration, they have made an arrangement to meet the difficulty. It is proposed, that officers of the Custom House shall he in attendance at the London Bridge station in order to meet the night mail train from Dovor; but as it would frequently happen that the boat would arrive in Dovor long before the departure of the train, passengers might complain that they had an hour to spend in Dovor needlessly, and were again detained in London; it was therefore proposed, while facilities were afforded in London, that they should not take away the facilities in Dovor. If the passenger arrives in time, his luggage will be examined in Dovor, and if the time does not suit, the examination will take place in London. The officers in Dovor will receive instructions to telegraph information on the departure of the train, so that the authorities in London may know whether the examination has taken place in Dovor or not, so that if it has taken place in Dovor it will not he necessary to detain the Custom House officers at the London Bridge stations. To enable the authorities to take the names of aliens it will be necessary that the ship list of passengers should be sent forward with the baggage.