asked the Postmaster General, Whether his attention has been called to a case heard before Vice Chancellor Bacon on the 31st of May last, in which the plaintiff, a Mr. Collie, sued the directors of the Bonelli's Telegraph Company for his commission of 25 per cent on a sum of £22,500, being the amount at which the plaintiff negotiated the sale of Bonelli's Company to the Post Office; whether he is aware that in the course of that trial it came out in evidence that before the Company had been advised to negotiate through Mr. Collie, they had been ready to sell their undertaking to the Post Office for £5,000; and, whether he will inform the House what it was the Post Office purchased for the sum of £22,500, and what benefit it is now deriving from such purchase?
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he was informed that when the Telegraph Bill of 1868 was before a Parliamentary Committee, the secretary of Bonelli's Company did state that the Company would take £5,000 for their undertaking. The Company subsequently repudiated this informal offer, and declared that it was made without authority. It appeared that the Company had been for several years in a state of collapse. When it was understood that the Government were going to take over the telegraphs, it developed a considerable amount of activity, and proceeded to make arrangements, which it had the full right to do, for the purpose of establishing telegraphic communication between the different centres of business in the country. When the Monopoly Bill of 1869 was passed, the Post Office had either to purchase the rights of this Company, or to submit to a very inconvenient competition until an arrangement could be made. Some of the best and most lucrative parts of the country which the Government procured itself by its monopoly would have been occupied by this Company, and, under these circumstances, it was considered most expedient to pay the sum, recognized as a very large one, which was given to the Company under arbitration. It was a necessary part of the price paid by the Government for its monopoly. He was informed that the whole of the negotiations had been carried on exclusively with Messrs. Bumpus and Co., and not with Mr. Collie, as implied by his hon. Friend's Question.