HC Deb 16 May 1861 vol 162 cc2094-5

said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If the Government have terminated the Contract entered into with the Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Company for carrying the Mails between Galway and America?


said, he wished further to ask whether it is in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee upon Contracts that a Contract ratified by the House of Commons should be put an end to without being brought under the consideration of the House?


Sir, I think what my noble Friend asks me is rather a matter of opinion upon a matter of duty: but I have no hesitation in saying that I think it is the duty of the Government, if it believes there is a necessary for exercising its lawful powers, to put an end to a contract between the Executive and a Company without in the first instance consulting the House of Commons, but subsequently placing the House in possession of the fullest means to enable it to pronounce judgment upon their conduct. With respect to the question of the hon. Member for Montrose, I would recommended him to read the closing words of a notice addressed by the Postmaster General to the Secretary of the Galway Company, and a note which I have just received from the Secretary of the Company. My noble Friend (Lord Stanley of Adderley) through his Secretary, yesterday wrote a letter ending in this manner— Under all the circumstances, and on a review of the whole case, the Postmaster General feels that in the discharge of his public duty he has no alternative but to exercise the power reserved to him, and to declare the Contract at an end. I am desired, accordingly, to transmit to you the accompanying notice to that effect. The note which I have received from the Secretary to the Company is as follows:— May, 16, 1861. A letter from the Postmaster General was delivered at half-past 5 o'clock yesterday evening at the Office of the Company, containing the intimation that he had declared the Galway Contract at an end. If time be permitted, the Company will be prepared to join issue upon all the reasons given by the Postmaster General, and I am desired by the Board to request that you will add this statement to any answer that you may feel called upon to give to Mr. Baxter's question this evening.