§ MR. MACARTNEY
begged to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether the Contract entered into in July, 1856, with the European and Australian Mail Company has been cancelled or determined; 1084 and, if so, what arrangements have been made to secure the maintenance of the Postal Communication with the Australian Colonies for the future? Also, Whether any extension of time of the existing Contract with the Royal Mail Steampacket Company, which expires in 1862, has been granted, and for what period?
said, he was not aware that any application whatever had been made for cancelling the contract to which the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question referred, and of course the arrangements under that contract continued in force. With regard to the second part of the question, there had been an extension of time given to the Royal Mail Steampacket Company for two years. In August last a letter was received by the Treasury from the Admiralty, enclosing an application from that company for the prolongation of their existing contract, based in some measure upon their amalgamation with the Australian Mail Company. The Treasury replied that they regarded the two contracts as entirely distinct, and could not consent to an extension for such a consideration. Upon that ground, therefore, the application was refused. But some months before there had been a correspondence upon the subject of the inefficiency of the service between Rio Janeiro and Buenos Ayres, and the Treasury took the opportunity of saying that if the Royal Mail Packet Company were prepared to put on a larger class of vessels than they were compelled to send under the existing contract the Treasury would, in consideration of that improvement, extend the contract two years further, and upon that condition the contract had been extended.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
asked whether there would be any objection to lay upon the table the papers connected with the application?
said, that if the hon. Gentleman would give notice of what papers he required there would be no objection to their production.