HC Deb 06 May 1889 vol 335 cc1347-8

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Contract, dated the 12th day of April, 1889, for the Construction of a Submarine Telegraph Line from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the Island be approved."—(Mr. Jackson).

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman to postpone this Motion. Papers on the subject were only issued on Saturday last. I see that under the contract we are to give a subsidy of £8,000 a year for 20 years, but there is not the slightest explanation beyond that the cable is required for strategic reasons. I think that as guardians of the public purse we are bound to insist on having some explanation of the reasons for making this grant of £160,000. I think it undesirable that such important matters should be brought forward in so hurried a manner, and that an endeavour should be made to pass them through the House without hon. Members having had time to make themselves acquainted with the terms of the contracts. I will, therefore, ask the hon. Member to withdraw the Motion for the present, and if he does not do that, I shall feel compelled to move the Adjournment of the Debate. My object is to give the Government an opportunity of affording us full explanations on this subject.

*MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I rise to support the appeal of my hon. Friend, although my acquaintance with the subject since 1881 does not lead me to oppose the proposal. But the papers ought to have been circulated long ago, and I only received mine this morning. I hope the Government will consent to the postponement of this matter.


It is not necessary to move the Adjournment of the Debate. My hon. Friend proposes to give an explanation of the facts, and, under the circumstances, the Government will consent to the postponement of the consideration of this contract until an early day.


I hope that in similar cases in the future the issue of Papers will not be delayed until so closely upon the discussion of the subject, and that they will be circulated instead of being put on the short list.

*MR. W. L. JACKSON (Leeds)

I laid the contract on the Table before the Recess, and I was under the impression that the Papers had been distributed at an earlier date. I found subsequently, however, that they were put on the short list for the purpose of giving hon. Members an opportunity of saying whether or not they required them. I at once gave instructions for a full circulation, but I am quite willing that the discussion shall be postponed, and will accordingly withdraw the Motion for the present.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.