HC Deb 26 August 1895 vol 36 cc778-9

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been called to the fact that the whole cost of the so-called mail subsidies (e.g., paying 3s. per lb. for letters sent to the United States in English ships, as against 1s. 8d. per lb. for letters sent to America in American and German vessels of equal and often superior speed, and of paying £40,000 a year for a mail service between Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong, and also the whole cost of the Indian mail service) is charged to the Post Office, whereas it has been declared by a Select Committee that these subsidies are paid for four distinct purposes—namely, to encourage British shipbuilding; to keep up the commercial supremacy of England on the seas; as an. auxiliary Naval Power; and, lastly, to carry the mails; and whether he will take steps to carry out the recommendation of the Canning Commission to solicit the Treasury only to charge the Post Office a fair proportion of the subsidies paid—namely, the ordinary freight charges for the carriage of the mails?


The Postmaster General is of course alive to the fact that it has been found convenient to place mail packet subsidies on the Vote for Post Office Packet Services; and he does not propose to re-open with the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury this question of public accounting. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Report of the Committee on Contract Packets, presided over by Lord Canning in 1853, dealt with circumstances which no longer exist, the Packet Services being at that time controlled by the Admiralty, and borne on the Naval Vote.