HC Deb 22 June 1858 vol 151 cc174-5

said, be would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any Representations have been recently received from the Legislatures of New South Wales or Victoria with reference to the irregularities in the performance of the Steam Postal Service between this Country and Australia, and whether the Legislature of Victoria has not by a formal Resolution recommended that the existing Contract should be annulled?


Sir, in answer to the hon. Member, I beg leave to state that the Australian Colonies have made repeated complaints of the irregularity in the performance of the steam postal service between England and Australia. In the month of December last, Sir William Denison sent home a recommendation upon the subject from the Legislature of New South Wales; and at a later period he forwarded a Resolution in reference to the same matter from the Chamber of Commerce in that colony. With regard, however, to the second question of the hon. Gentleman, I have to state that we have received no representation upon this subject from the Legislature of Victoria, and neither has any recommendation been made to us by them that the existing contract should be annulled. But so great a grievance has not escaped the earnest attention of Her Majesty's Government, and more especially of the Colonial Office. We have been in constant communication with the Treasury upon the subject, and I have now the satisfaction of stating that the contract will be immediately dissolved. I beg further to say that the Lords of the Treasury inform us that tenders for a new service will be invited without delay, modifying the terms in such particulars as experience may have shown to be necessary, and that they state that they have now every hope that they will be able to place the service in all respects on a satisfactory footing. It may be desirable it should also be known, that with a view to obviate the inconvenience which would follow from a sudden removal of the present line of steamers, it is the intention of the Lords of the Treasury to take immediate steps for entering into a temporary arrangement with the Royal Mail Steam Company, or some other Company, for the performance of the service during the period which must intervene between the termination of the present con- tract and the commencement of a new one. I have only to add that on the 16th instant we informed the Governors of the different Australian Colonies of the dissolution of the contract with the European and Australian Royal Mail Company; and we also made known to them the temporary arrangements we proposed to make until a new contract upon the subject should be completed.