said, he would beg to ask the Postmaster General, Whether a valuation has been made of the total sum which would become payable to the various Telegraph and Railway Companies in the event of the State purchasing their interests under the Permissive Act of last Session, and whether he will lay that valuation upon the Table; whether it is not the case that a large additional outlay beyond that sum 1788 would be required in order to complete the scheme of telegraphic communication contemplated by the Post Office; whether the amount of such outlay has been ascertained, and will be communicated to the House; whether the Treasury have caused an estimate to be prepared of the cost of an entirely new and distinct system of telegraphic communication on the most improved plan, under the management of the Post Office, and will communicate such estimate to the House; and, whether or not it is the intention of the Treasury to recommend that Parliament should vote funds for carrying out the Permissive Act of last Session, as well as the additional funds which would be required to complete the postal electric system as contemplated by that Act?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, in reply to the first Question put to me by the hon. Gentleman, I have to state that the valuation of the total sum which will become payable to the various telegraph and railway companies in the event of the State purchasing their interests under the Permissive Act of last Session is in course of being made. The arbitrations which are provided for under that Act between the Government and the telegraph companies are in progress, and it is impossible to make the valuation which the hon. Gentleman asks for until they are concluded. With regard to the second Question, it is true that an additional sum, but not a very large sum, will be required to complete the scheme of telegraphic communication contemplated by the Post Office. The amount has been approximately ascertained, and in the event of the Government going on with the purchase of the telegraphs, it will be communicated to the House. In reply to the third Question I have to say that the Treasury have not caused any estimate to be prepared of the cost of an entirely new and distinct system of telegraphic communication, and consequently none can be laid on the table. As to the last Question, it is, perhaps, rather premature that I should state what are the intentions of the Government until the arbitrations are more advanced than they are now, and the sum which will be necessary is more approximately known. I shall, however, probably be able in a few days to state more fully what the intentions of the Government are with regard to this subject.