HC Deb 26 May 1891 vol 353 cc1133-4

Resolution [25th May] reported [see page 979), and read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

(7.50.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

At question time to-day I asked the Secretary to the Treasury a question as to an important matter which directly concerned my constituency and the whole of the community of the Province of Ulster in regard to postal matters. The Secretary to the Treasury, going as I think beyond the rights of his position, refused to give any information to the House on the matter, and I was obliged to give notice that I should raise a Debate upon it upon the Report of this Vote. I refrained from discussing it in Committee, although I had a perfect right, and it would have been convenient for me to do so; but I did not anticipate that any Minister would have kept absolute silence on a matter of this kind. I did think he would have been sufficiently civil to inform me that we might look forward to a satisfactory settlement of it. Since I put the question the Postmaster General has been in the House, in conference with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, and I should now like to ask him whether it is convenient that I should proceed at once with the Debate, or whether he will agree to an adjournment.


made no sign of reply.


(continuing): As the right hon. Gentleman has made no indication of agreeing to the adjournment, I am compelled to raise the question at once. In the month of June last year the Postmaster General received a deputation from Ulster—a deputation which was entitled to speak with authority for the City of Belfast—and they laid before the right hon. Gentleman some important facts as to the wretchedly inadequate character of the postal service in the Province of Ulster. I was present when the deputation waited upon the right hon. Gentleman, and heard his reply, and that reply certainly entitled us to believe that prompt attention would be given to the matter. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the grievance, and indicated his intention, and, indeed, I think he gave a very emphatic promise, to provide a remedy. But since then we have heard nothing upon it. At the end of last Session the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigton informed me, in reply to a question, that nothing had been done, and that no offer had been received from the Companies concerned, with a view of providing a remedy; but surely when the Postmaster General admitted the existence of a grievance, and undertook that he would provide a remedy, the initiative should rest with him to open negotiations. During the Recess I engaged in correspondence with the Postmaster General, and several letters passed between us. I pointed out that whenever there was a fog in the Channel between Holyhead and Dublin, the mails were delayed and letters reached the North of Ireland two or three hours late. Indeed, it sometimes occurred that merchants were compelled to send letters to England before they received the English mails, upon which their correspondence to a great extent depended. Surely that was a great absurdity—that the outward mail should be despatched before the inward mail was delivered.

It being Seven of the clock, Further Proceeding stood adjourned till this day.