HC Deb 10 February 1881 vol 258 cc498-9

asked the Secretary of State for India, If, in consequence of the serious inconvenience caused to the mercantile community of the capital of British India by the now postal arrangements, he would be prepared to reconsider the case; and also how far the delivery of the Indian Mail in London on Tuesday is of such importance as to justify the inconvenience of which the merchants of Calcutta, supported by the Government of India, complain; if it is true that the Calcutta Mail is detained nine hours every week in Bombay; and, if he has received a petition from the Chamber of Commerce of Calcutta upon the subject?


Sir, the mercantile and banking community of the United Kingdom were very greatly dissatisfied with the delivery of the Indian mails under the now contract, and several memorials were received from the Chambers of Commerce on the subject; and a deputation came to the India Office in August last to urge that the arrangements should be so altered as to admit of the arrival of the mails in London on Monday. The Government of India were consulted as to the best mode of meeting the views of the mercantile community, both in this country and in India, subject to the condition that the mail should arrive in London not later than Tuesday. On the receipt of their Report, the Postmaster General was consulted; and, after a very careful consideration of all the interests involved, it was decided that, as it was impossible to meet the wishes of all parties, the greatest amount of convenience to the general mercantile community would be attained by directing that the mails should leave Bombay at 5 o'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday during the south-west monsoon, and on Thursday during the remainder of the year, so as to insure a uniform delivery in London on Tuesday morning. The new arrangement only begins with the mail leaving Bombay to-day (February 10); and it would be premature to re-consider the question till some experience has boon obtained of its working. The Calcutta mail is timed to arrive in Bombay at 8.15 in the morning, which is nearly nine hours before the steamer loaves Bombay. A petition has been received from the Chamber of Commerce at Calcutta, in which it is stated that a memorial adopted at a public meeting is about to be sent through the Government of India. That memorial has not yet been received.