HC Deb 31 May 1877 vol 234 cc1142-5

rose to call attention to the want of telegraph communication between Lundy Island and the mainland, and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it is of national importance that such a communication should be established. He maintained that this was not a question of local, but of national interest, and urged that Government should undertake the work to which his Motion pointed without delay. Nearly all the Chambers of Commerce throughout the country were in favour of that work being proceeded with.


seconded the Motion, submitting that the question of establishing communication between Lundy Island and the mainland was one not of mere local interest affecting the Bristol Channel, but of national importance affecting the shipping and commercial interests of the country generally. The Island was situated on a dangerous part of the coast and he could quite understand the telegraph being in winter the means of saving life and valuable property. During the worst part of the winter the mainland was totally obscured from the Island.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is of national importance that a telegraphic communication should be established between Lundy Island and the mainland,"—(Mr. Dillwyn,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


appealed to the Government in the name of the shipping interest to agree to the Motion. It was not a matter of importance only to the Bristol Channel, but it was of as much concern to Liverpool and the other ports on the West Coast, and even those on the North-east. This was entirely a national question, and he hoped the Government would so regard it.


speaking on behalf of the Chambers of Commerce, joined in the appeal to the Government to advance the £5,000 or so, which was necessary to make the connection, and said that he knew there was a most anxious desire in Newcastle and the ports in the North that ships should be able on their arrival in the West to communicate with Lundy Island, and then to await orders.


said, he had expressed it to be his opinion, when a deputation from the Chambers of Commerce waited on him in reference to the subject, that they had assigned very powerful reasons in favour of establishing communication between Lundy Island and the mainland. He was still, he might add, in correspondence with the Chambers of Commerce on the matter, inasmuch as he had not yet received from them a reply to his last proposal in regard to it. He was, therefore, unable to say that the negotiations which had been in progress had finally broken down. If the Chambers of Commerce were in a position to lay down the wire, and to give a guarantee for its maintenance for the first few years, he had very little doubt that the communication could be made. Till he had a final answer to that proposal he could do no more than say he was fully alive to the importance of the subject. He felt, however, as the head of the Postal Telegraphic Department, that he was charged with the duty of seeing that no extension should take place which had not a fair chance of becoming remunerative, and lie did not believe that this extension promised to be remunerative; on the contrary, he thought it would involve a large annual expenditure. If, however, when the negotiations with the Chambers of Commerce came to a close, it appeared to them that the matter was of such very great practical importance as to justify them in making an application to some other Department of the Government more especially charged with the duty of prosecuting works of public advantage than the Post Office, he should throw no obstacle in the way of an appeal of that kind. He hoped, at the same time, the House would not press him to undertake a telegraphic extension which was not likely to be remunerative, owing to the extreme probability of the breakage of the cable.


said, those who had charge of the commercial interests of this country would derive a certain amount of negative satisfaction from the answer of his noble Friend. He thought he saw some hesitation in the mind of the noble Lord, which gave him hope for the future. He (Lord Eslington) maintained that the question was really not a local one, inasmuch as it related to a place on a dangerous part of our coast, and the only place where the ships of all nations engaged in trade were likely to find a refuge. If on inquiry it could be shown, as he believed it could, that the establishment of telegraphic communication with the Island would not be unremunerative, he was of opinion that the Government ought to look favourably upon the proposal of the hon. Member.


said, the Postmaster General need not have feared that similar applications would be made, for he was not aware of any place similarly situated to Lundy Island. There ' was nothing between it and the shores of America, and it stood out some distance from the mainland. The noble Lord must not take too restricted a view of his responsibilities in this matter. He (Mr. Vivian) regarded the question as one of national rather than of local importance. The telegraphs being now in the hands of the Government, the commercial community had a right to look to the Government to take this matter up; and the expenses of such an undertaking ought not to be thrown on the Chambers of Commerce, which had not the requisite machinery for carrying it out.


said, the noble Lord's reply would be received with considerable disappointment by the commercial communities all over the Kingdom. The noble Lord did not seem to be sufficiently impressed with the fact that this was by no means a local question, but one concerning the commerce of the whole country, and one in which the ports in the North and North-east were equally interested with those on the Bristol Channel. He (Sir Henry Havelock) thought that if the question were left to the decision of the Chambers of Commerce there would be great delay before it could be finally disposed of. He hoped that the Department over which the noble Lord so ably presided would take the matter in hand.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 75: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 141.)