§ MR. BAXTER
said, he rose to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, When the Papers moved for with respect to the Gal-way Contract will be laid upon the Table of the House: 1. If it is true that, even now, after all the extensions of time granted, the Atlantic Royal Mail Company have only one new ship at sea—the Columbia. 2. That that vessel took ten days to steam from Galway to St. John's, Newfoundland, on her first voyage; and afterwards was compelled to put into Halifax for want of coals. 3. That another new vessel, the Hibernia, has been condemned at Liverpool as unseaworthy. 4. That the Government have allowed the Company to employ on the North Atlantic the Parana, an old ship, which has been for some time considered unsuitable for the West India Service. 5. That it appears from the published Accounts that the Atlantic Royal Mail Company has lost three-fourths of its capital. 6. That, under these circumstances, Government do not intend to ask the House of Commons for the Vote of £78,000 which appears in the Estimates?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER:
Sir, in answer to the questions of my hon. Friend I will give him all the particulars it is in my power to supply. In the first place, it is true that the Atlantic Royal Mail Company has only, in terms of his question, one new ship at sea—namely the Columbia; but they have purchased and purpose to employ another vessel of power and tonnage equal to the terms of 1762 the contract—namely, the Adriatic. With regard to the second question there is no official information in possession of the Post Office as to whether the Columbia took ten days to steam from Galway to St. John's, Newfoundland, on her first voyage, and afterwards was compelled to put into Halifax for want of coals. But, although we are not in possession of official information on these points, it has been announced in the papers that on the fifteenth day after leaving Galway she did put into Halifax on her first voyage for want of coal, and that statement is confirmed by inquiry at Lloyd's. Therefore, I have to answer that question substantially in the affirmative. With respect to the third question whether another new vessel, the Hibernia, has been condemned at Liverpool, I have to state that that vessel suffered damage on her voyage from Southampton to Galway, and she has been pronounced by the Admiralty to be, in her present condition, unseaworthy? In answer to the hon. Gentleman's fourth question I may say that the Government have not allowed the Company to employ the Parana on the North Atlantic service. The Lords of the Admiralty have represented that they did not think the Parana to be in a sufficient state for the fulfilment of the stipulations of the contract—a pretty conclusive indication of their opinions as to the condition of the vessel. To the hon. Member's next question I am not prepared to make any answer. The subject of the published accounts of the Company is one equally open to the investigation of us all; and, therefore, the Government cannot profess to give any special information upon it. The hon. Gentleman's sixth question refers to a matter upon which I have no statement to make to the House, except that I shall enter into a communication with my noble Friend the Postmaster General in relation to it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER:
I undertake that they shall be presented with the utmost despatch. As an act of justice to the Atlantic Royal Mail Company, I wish to state, by way of supplement to the answers which I have given to the hon. Gentleman, that since I sat down, and, therefore, after those answers were given, I have received a statement on the subject of the question from 1763 the Company. It has not been in my power to gather correctly its general effect, but hon. Gentlemen will, as far as they think proper, suspend their judgment until they have heard or read what the Company may wish to say. There is no objection that I am aware of to lay the statement before the House.