§ MR. LENG
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he can state on how many occasions, during the year 1890, the up Scotch mail trains carrying American correspondence missed connection with the Irish mail trains, so that the Scotch letters did not reach Queenstown in time for the steamers by which they should have been despatched; whether he is aware that, notwithstanding the serious complaints of the loss and inconvenience caused to Scotch merchants and exporters by the failures to make connection between those trains in the early part of the year, such failures again occurred on 8th October and 10th and 31st December; whether the Railway Companies, by their contracts to carry the mails, are subject to any penalties when they fail to deliver them in due time; and, if so, whether such penalties are enforced; and whether it is probable the Scotch mails for the United States will be forwarded hereafter with greater regularity?
§ MR. RAIKES
I have ascertained that the failures to which the hon. Member refers occurred on eight occasions during the year 1890, including those specially named. The Railway Companies are not, under their contracts for the conveyance of mails, subject to any penalties for delay in delivering them; but my Department is in constant communication with the companies relative to the working of the mail trains, and suitable representations are always made to them respecting any serious delay that appears to have been avoidable. I am sorry to say that during the present month the unusual difficulties attending the conduct of railway business in Scotland have had a prejudicial effect on the mail service generally, as well as upon the communication from Scotland to the United States; but I trust that these irregularities will soon be terminated, and the hon. Member may rely on the Post Office doing its utmost to prevent delay to the mails.