HC Deb 10 February 1854 vol 130 cc403-4

said, he begged to ask the hon. Secretary for the Treasury whether any progress had been made towards carrying out the proposed measure for the reduction of the colonial postage to a uniform rate; and also, whether he could give the House any information as to the steps that were taking to insure a more frequent postal communication between this country and our Australian colonies?


said, the two questions put by the hon. Gentleman were of great importance. With regard to the first, he had to state that the Postmaster General, in April last year, had taken steps, with the sanction of the Treasury, to obtain the concurrence of those Colonies, over whose postal arrangements he had no control, to a general arrangement of this kind. The proposed arrangement was, that there should be an uniform postage of 6d. to every part of the world—one penny being paid for inland postage at home, another penny for the inland postage in the colonies, and the remaining fourpence as the ocean rate. With regard to the progress that had been made, the Postmaster General had received communications from Canada, Prince Edward's Island, and the West India Islands, except Barbadoes, all of them complying with the proposition, and steps were being taken to carry the arrangements into effect. With regard to the second question, as to arrangements for frequent postal communications with Australia, he had to state that there was at present a communication only once in two months by way of India and Singapore. The Postmaster General was now in communication with the Screw Steam Company, with a view to the carrying of the mails monthly round the Cape of Good Hope, and he hoped soon to establish a regular monthly communication by steam between this country and Australia. The Postmaster General had been able, in this case, to make a beneficial and convenient arrangement with regard to postal communications viâ the Cape. He proposed, and he believed the proposal had been accepted by the company, that they should receive threepence out of the fourpenny ocean rate for their labour, and thus the other penny would be a net profit to the Post Office, instead of their paying, as they did by the present arrangement, a larger sum than the amount of postage they received. He would also mention, that one of the conditions insisted on was, that the Post Office should be allowed to transmit any letters to Australia which the parties indicated a wish to send by any particular ship. Another condition was, that the Post Office should not be prevented from entering into any contracts with steam companies who might send their vessels by any other route, so that they would be at liberty to avail themselves of the Panama route when it was opened.