HC Deb 13 February 1865 vol 177 cc204-5

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Has the attention of Her Majesty's Government been recently directed to the great and increasing delays and irregularities in performing the Irish Mail Service, under the Postal Contract of the 3rd of January, 1859; and is it intended, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, either to determine that contract soon after the 1st of October next, or to place the Postmaster General in a position to enforce its due performance, pursuant to the 10th and 11th clauses, in accordance with the Report made on the 14th of July, 1863, by the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the state of Holyhead Harbour?


said, that the Irish mail service had of late been performed very irregularly. During the year 1864 the occasions on which the contract time was not exceeded had been comparatively few. The consequence had been that the Government and the Post Office authorities had felt considerable dissatisfaction, and the Post Office authorities had recently expressed it to the contractors. The Government had not been able to enforce the penalty clause of the contract of 1859, because that clause was by the contract suspended until the Government had provided the necessary pier accommodation. As the hon. Member was aware, works had during the past year been in progress at Holyhead with that object, and as soon as the Treasury was informed by the Board of Trade that those works had been completed they would have to consider whether the Government had not provided every reasonable facility for the performance of the mail service, and whether the penalty clause might not properly be put in force. As to the second part of the question, he had to inform the hon. Gentleman that the irregularities in respect of which the rights of the Government were to arise must occur after the completion of five years of the period of the contract, and, therefore, those of last year could not be taken into account. When the service had been performed for five years the Government would have the power, if the service did not give satisfaction, to terminate the contract and purchase the packets of the company.