HC Deb 15 August 1889 vol 339 cc1338-9

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury by what calculation it is stated in the Treasury Minute of 18th July that the new Canadian-Pacific route to Hong Kong saves several days, as compared with the Suez route, for postal purposes; what is the present contract time for letters from London to Hong Kong viâ Suez, and what will be the time by the new route, the Atlantic voyage and stoppages included; who are the parties who have continually pressed on the Treasury the importance of the new route for military and naval purposes; and whether the Secretary of State for War and Board of Admiralty have done so; if so, for what particular purposes; what the cost of each soldier or sailor sent by the new route is calculated to be, in addition to the subsidy; and, whether to India the alternative route by the Cape of Good Hope is quicker, much easier, and infinitely cheaper than the Canadian?


I am afraid that in the desire to be concise the Treasury Minute is not quite so clear as it might be; the saving of time referred to is really on certain sections of the line—namely, between London and Shanghai, and London and Yokohama. The times are: Shanghai—eastern route, shortest 37½ days; longest, 42½; western route, shortest, 30½; longest, 32½; the saying being seven and ten days respectively. Hong Kong—eastern route, shortest, 32½ days; longest, 37½; western route, shortest, 34; longest, 36. To Yokohama—the eastern route is 15 to 18 days longer than the western route; but the P. and O. service is not a contract service to Yokohama. The importance of the Canadian Pacific route for military and naval purposes was urged upon the Government by Members of Parliament, public bodies, and members of both professions, and was one of the factors that led Her Majesty's Government, including the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, to agree to the grant of a subsidy. I am afraid that I should be travelling outside the limits of an answer if I were to specify the purposes aimed at; but their general nature is sufficiently obvious. As regards the cost of the conveyance of troops, I would refer the hon. Member to Clause 9 of the second schedule to the contract. To the figures then given would have to be added the cost of transport to Halifax or Quebec, which would depend on the arrangements that might be made at the time. I believe the alternative route by the Cape might possibly be somewhat cheaper and easier, but certainly not so quick or advantageous in other respects. I believe that a letter was addressed to the Prime Minister in favour of a subsidy, signed by nearly 300 Members of this House, and I am told the number would have been increased if more time had been afforded.


May I ask on what authority the Secretary to the Treasury says the route to India by the Cape is not shorter and quicker than the western route by way of America?


I do not think I said that.