§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he wished to ask, If there is any intention of signing a Convention with the Austrian Government for the establishment of a Submarine Telegraph from Ragusa to Alexandria; also, what progress is making with the Red Sea Telegraph?
§ MR. LAING
said, the Government had received intelligence that the undertaking with regard to the Red Sea Telegraph had failed, but steps were being taken to restore it, though it was doubtful to what extent they would be successful. A convention had been signed some time before with the Austrian Government, by which it was agreed that each Government should pay £15,000 a year for twenty years towards the promotion of telegraphic communication from Ragusa to Alexandria. Since then they had heard that the Austrian Government had consented to modify the arrangement so as to extend the guarantee to the company to fifty years. Considering the inconvenience of these guarantees, it was doubtful how far such an arrangement would be accepted.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
asked, if it was not possible to break the contract? The Government ought to construct a telegraph of its own to India, and not be dependent on any other country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the essential condition of the contract was that it should not depend 1462 on the success of the undertaking. He doubted the wisdom of such a contract, but it had not been made by the present Government.
§ MR. EDWIN JAMES
said, it was most extraordinary that a contract should be made by any Government guaranteeing a certain amount without any corresponding undertaking on the part of the contractors for keeping the works in repair. He should take another opportunity of calling attention to the subject.
§ Ordered, that the Committee do report at Six of the clock.