HC Deb 31 March 1890 vol 343 cc301-2

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether his attention has been called to the evidence of the late Mr. C. H. B. Patey, C.B., Third Secretary of the Post Office, given before the Select Committee on the Revenue Estimates, that, under the terms of the Telegraph Act, the Post Office had, as part of the bargain for its way leave, to transmit messages sent on the business of railway companies free of cost; that in 1871 there were transmitted 97,000 such messages, and in the year 1888 961,000 messages; that these railway messages would represent something like 1s. a message at the least, the loss of revenue on them being nearly £50,000 a year; and that the railway companies had found it more convenient to do their business by means of the Telegraph Office for nothing than to do it in other ways; and whether he will at once take steps to introduce a Bill into Parliament to put an end to this arrangement?


I am well acquainted with the evidence in question which, the hon. Member may recollect, was given in my hearing. He may also recollect that he was present in this House on the 28th March last year, when attention was called to the evidence by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, and the hon. Members for Bethnal Green and South West Notts; and I would refer him to the remarks which I made on that occasion. I may add, for the information of the House, that legal action on the right of the railway companies to send certain classes of messages is now pending, and, until the result is known, I shall not be in a position to consider the question of the further relation of the Post Office to the companies in this matter.