§ MR. MACARTNEY
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, previous to the 8th day of July last (upon which day a paper was issued by the directors of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company to their shareholders, headed "Proposed Amalgamation of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and the European and Australian Royal Mail Company") any communication or proposition was made to either of said compapanies, directly or indirectly, by the Treasury, that in case of amalgamation the existing contracts to these companies would be further extended for two years; and if not whether such a proposition (originating with one or both companies) was submitted to him at any time previous or subsequent to such document being circulated; and if so, whether any decision has been come to thereon?
said, it was at all times an exceedingly inconvenient practice for hon. Members of that House to make partisan Motions with reference to companies out of doors, and to put questions to the Government which were founded on no public motives, and only bearing on the interests of private companies; it was making Parliament a vehicle for the ri- 1820 valry of companies out of doors, which ought not to be done, and he hoped the House would support him if he declined to answer questions of that description. Again, repeated Motions were made for returns at the instance of company against company, which filled the table with Returns which were of no public interest. He had no wish to withhold information, and he had no objection to answer the question of the hon. Gentleman, but he hoped that this sort of questioning would be discouraged by the House. The hon. Gentleman asked whether, previous to an agreement for an amalgamation of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and the European and Australian Royal Mail Company, any communication or proposition was made to either of the two companies by the Government. No such proposition had come before him officially; and all he knew was, that the two companies did send in a proposition on the subject of some contracts, and he was told that a Report had been made on the subject to the Admiralty, which would come before the Treasury to be considered, and when it did come before them it would be considered with reference to the public interests, and not with reference to the interests of one company or the other.
§ MR. MACARTNEY,
in explanation, said the hon. Gentleman having imputed to him partisanship in putting this question on behalf of the companies, he must beg to say that every step he had taken in reference to the subject of Australian postal communication was taken with reference to the public interests, and he returned with scorn the imputation that he had done so from private motives.
said, he did not mean to cast any imputation of partisanship on the hon. Gentleman in putting this question, and he was sorry if he had been supposed to do so; but he had only wished to point out the inconvenience of putting questions affecting private interests alone.