HC Deb 21 June 1861 vol 163 cc1423-4

said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it is not advisable that the question of the lied Sea Telegraph should be referred to a Select Committee in order to inquire whether it may not be worth while endeavouring to render it available?


said, he had stated on a former occasion that if there was a disposition to examine into this contract he should not have the smallest objection to the appointment of a Select Committee; but with regard to the subject mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member, it appeared to him that to appoint a Committee would be to devolve upon the Executive Government, which it was their duty to undertake, and which, though it was a difficult duty, they had greater advantages in performing than a Committee could have. He would inform the hon. and gallant Member of the position in which, the matter at present stood, so far as the Government was concerned. The question was to be considered, in the first place, in regard to the financial engagements of the Government; and, in the second place with regard to the material of the cable itself which had been laid, and the practicability of turning it to Advantage. As regarded the financial part of the question, they had at present under examination the mode in which they might come to an arrangement with the persons who at present formed the Company and had charge of the Telegraph, and upon that they should be prepared very shortly to proceed to some measure, because it did riot appear, nor so far as he knew to the parties themselves, that there was any particular advantage in retaining the Telegraph in the hands of those parties. On the contrary it would appear; on various grounds, to be desirable that they should be divested of all further concern in it. Then, with regard to the Telegraph cable, and the possibility of turning it to account, they had referred to the Board of Trade, and that Board was now preparing a Report on the best method of making an examination of the different parts of the cable on the spot; and it was obvious that it was only upon such an examination that they could, found any plan for the future dealing with that cable. Of course the expense of the examination and the mode of conducting it were matters for consideration, but those matters were at present in the hands of competent persons connected with the Board of Trade.