HC Deb 03 March 1893 vol 9 cc956-7

I beg to ask the Postmaster General what precautions are taken to prevent the contents of mail bags being seriously damaged by the flooding of mail rooms on board of Atlantic steamers; whether the mail bags are waterproof, or the mail rooms enclosed in water-tight bulkheads, so that valuable documents and publications may not be reduced to pulp; whether his attention has been called to the recent flooding of the mail room of the steamer Pavonia, on her passage from Boston to Queenstown, and the injury sustained by a valuable postal packet, along with many other cases, in which it was impossible to repair the damage sustained; and whether the Post Office will grant compensation to those who have suffered loss from the irreparable condition of the contents of their letters and packets?


So far as conveyance by British mail packets is concerned, the precaution taken is to stipulate in every contract that suitable and secure mail rooms shall be provided on board the contract packets. Water-tight bulkheads are not specified in the contracts, and water-proof bags are not used for the mails. Damage by water on board a British mail packet is of uncommon occurrence, and such a thing as the flooding of a mail room is almost unheard of in the Service. The Pavonia was not carrying mails under contract with the British Post Office, but by arrangement with that of the United States of America. Hence the British Post Office could have no responsibility whatever in respect of the sea conveyance. But even if such an accident as befel the Pavonia had occurred to a British contract packet, the senders of letters and packets damaged by water would have no claim against the Post Office.


Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view to the serious accident to the mails by the Pavonia, he will, when further contracts are entered into, keep in view the desirability of having water-tight bulkhead compartments?


Yes, Sir; I will keep that suggestion in view.