HC Deb 14 March 1867 vol 185 cc1807-9

said, that on a recent occasion he had asked a Question relative to the tenders for the weekly postal service to and from Bombay. The reply was that notice had been given to the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the early termination of the contract for conveying the mail to India, but he did not understand whether it was intended to terminate the contract for the mail to China. He believed that the service to China would come absolutely to an end in January next. The service to Australia would be carried on on the basis of the present contract, which was subject to a notice of two years. He wished, therefore, to ask, Whether any arrangements would be made, in the event of the contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Company coming to an end, to continue the other two services, and whether any negotiations had been opened for the purpose of taking advantage of the French service, which was also connected with China?


said, the Committee which sat upon our East Indian Mail Service, did not recommend notice to be given for the termination of the service between India and Australia at the same time. The paragraph in their Report relating to the subject was rather against the simultaneous termination of the two services. Her Majesty's Government had had the question under their consideration, whether they should give notice of their intention of terminating the contract between India and China and Australia at the same time. He had consulted the Chairman of the Committee on the subject. That Gentleman, who had given great attention to the subject, might be said to represent the views of the Committee, and he represented that it would be exceedingly unfortunate to postpone the establishment of the weekly mail to Bombay for two years. In consideration of the great desire of the trade that the weekly communication should commence as soon as possible, Her Majesty's Government had determined to give notice to terminate the Indian contract in the first instance. They had been partly induced to take that step without also terminating the Australian contract, because they thought the colonists themselves might desire to undertake the Australian service. Communications were now going on between the Colonial Office and the colonies with a view to some such arrangement. He believed that communications had taken place with the French Government, but nothing definite had yet been settled. Tenders for the new service had been prepared, and negotiations were going on with the India Office on the subject. The contract for the service east of Suez would lie with the India Government. The form of the tender had therefore been sent to them, and when it was received back it would be advertised.


said, he wished to ask, whether it was true that it was in contemplation to raise the postage on letters for India and the East generally, in order to meet the increased expenditure upon the re-adjustment of the services. He asked the Question because this was a point which had been particularly dealt with by the Committee, and the Committee had protested strongly against the adoption of any such measure, for reasons which were fully set out in their Report?


said, it was determined, when the new postal service was commenced, to raise the postage to 9d. on the half-ounce letter, in order to meet the loss or increased expenditure expected to grow up through the increase in the number of the mails.