§ MR. BAXTER
asked the Postmaster General, What number and amount of penalties have been incurred by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company during the last eleven years; how many have been remitted and how many exacted; if it is the case that although the tenders had to be made under the absolute penalty condition in the contract itself, the liability has been commuted for a sum of £10,000; and, if the absolute penalty clause was suggested by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company; and, if he is aware that the effect of it has been to prevent other Companies tendering, as they had no guarantee that there would be a remission in their case under any circumstances whatever?
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
, in reply, said, during the last 11 years the number of voyages on which penalties were incurred by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was 345, and the amount of such penalties was £65,900. Of this sum, £7,000 was remitted on account of 27 voyages, and the balance—£58,900—exacted. The form of tender for the service recently contracted for was based upon a system of absolute penalties. But persons tendering were invited to say what deductions they would agree to in the subsidy, if the penalties, instead of being absolute, were made conditional. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, in their tender, offered to abate £10,000 a-year in such case, and Clause 50 of the contract gave the Postmaster General the power to avail himself of the offer. The absolute penalty clause in the last contract was not suggested by the Peninsular and Oriental Company, but was insisted upon by the Post Office. He was not aware that the effect had been to prevent other companies from tendering.