HC Deb 04 April 1854 vol 132 cc424-6

said, he begged to move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying for the establishment of postal communication with the islands of Arran. These islands were situated on the west coast of Ireland. During the recess he had received a deputation from these islands, stating that they had no regular or authorised postal communication, and setting forth the very great inconvenience to which the inhabitants were put for the want of the same. He had sent the statement that was made to him to the noble Lord the Postmaster General, and he had received a letter in answer, stating that, after due consideration, the matter could not be interfered with. He did not, however, consider this in any way a satisfactory answer, particularly after he had been given to understand that the whole expense of a weekly communication to the districts referred to would only cost about 17l. a year. It was quite true that these islands did not geographically occupy a position of any great importance, but the population of them was upwards of 3,000, and therefore, considered numerically, if in no other way, they were entitled to the relief they sought.


seconded the Motion.


said, he must beg to inform the House that the Postmaster General had recently instituted an inquiry into the means of giving additional postage accommodation to the islands of Arran, in compliance with a memorial addressed to him, which represented that they contained a population of 3,000 and upwards, including three clergymen, a magistrate, a lighthouse, and a coast guard. The result of that inquiry had been that the Postmaster General found that the cost of sending a boat with letters from the main land to the islands of Arran twice a week would be 38l. per annum, and once a week 26l. per annum, whilst the estimated revenue from the transmission of letters to and from thence would only be 9l. 15s. a year, showing that the Post Office would sustain a considerable loss by keeping up a regular postal com- munication with those islands. But that was not the only ground on which he (Sir J. Young) resisted the present Motion. The question of giving postal accommodation by sea to adjacent islands was attended with some difficulty. It not only involved the islands of Arran, but also those of Jersey and Guernsey, and several others, and the Government felt that they could not comply with the request of the people of Arran without likewise affording similar facilities to the inhabitants of other islands.


said, he must protest against such a refusal, as it, in fact, amounted to, on the part of the Postmaster General, which he considered most unjustifiable. If any town in England with a population of 3,000 was denied the advantages of the postal communication which was now asked for by those places in Ireland, he believed that hon. Members on both sides of the House would rise in arms against such an injustice.


said, that without knowing any of the particulars of the case under discussion, he merely rose to express his disapproval generally of the doctrine of not affording postal communication to a place because it would not pay. He thought such a notion narrow and illiberal. With such an income as the Post Office had, he thought every town, without distinction or favour, ought to have proper postal communication. He had on a former occasion brought a similar matter before the House, and he trusted the Government would give the subject their serious consideration.


said, that, like the hon. Member who had last spoken, he knew nothing of the facts of this case, but considered that it was no sufficient answer to such a Motion as the present to say that to extend the advantages which were sought by these islands would not pay. The Post Office was supposed to furnish to the public at large the advantages of general communication throughout all the country, and particular places were not intended to be more favoured than others; but, on the contrary, the implied advantage of the system was its general diffusion and applicability. He must protest against any adoption of exclusiveness in connection with such a subject.


said, he was glad to hear so great an authority as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth assert that to say so and so would not pay was an improper answer to make in such a case as this. He believed that the system of postal communication was most inefficiently managed, especially in Ireland, and that not only in obscure parts of the same, but even in such a highly-civilised county as Carlow, from which place he had received a letter only two days ago, stating that the inhabitants would be in a better position, as far as postal communication was concerned, if they were restored to the same state as they were in ten years ago, before railways were introduced, when they had their stage-coaches and postage accommodation upon which they could depend. He should support the Motion before the House, which he thought it most unjust and illiberal to refuse.

Motion made, and Question put— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying for the establishment of Postal Communication with the Islands of Arran, West Coast of Ireland.

The House divided:—Ayes 92; Noes 80: Majority 12.