§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Kerry, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if the reply of the Postmaster General to the deputation of the Irish Chambers of Commerce relative to the new mail service between England and Ireland is conclusive; and whether, in view of the great dissatisfaction caused in Ireland by that reply, the Post Office authorities will reconsider the question with a view to meeting the wishes of the Irish public?
§ SIR J. GORST
The Postmaster General's reply to the deputation from the Irish Chambers of Commerce relative to the new mail service between England and Ireland was made after the fullest consideration, and, while regretting that the acceleration proposed does not fully meet the wishes of the public in Ireland, he sees no possibility of adopting a different time table for the night mail from that which has been announced.
§ SIR T. ESMONDE
asked when the resolution relating to the new mail service contract would be laid before Parliament?
§ SIR J. GORST
I am a very indirect representative of the Postmaster General, and I fear I cannot give an answer.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he is aware that the English mails have been late in their delivery at Tralee three times during the past week and ten times during the month of July; and whether, in view of the great and continual inconvenience cause to the people of Tralee and its neighbourhood by these constant delays in the delivery of the English mails, the Post Office authorities will invite the Great Southern and Western Railway Company to tender for an accelerated mail service to Tralee, permission being given them to stop the up and down mail trains at Mallow?
§ SIR J. GORST
The Postmaster General is aware that there has been great irregularity of late in the delivery of the English mails at Tralee, as indicated in the Question of the hon. Member. Inquiry shall be made as to the possibility of effecting some improvement of the service to Tralee by way of Mallow, but the establishment of a new train specially for the mails would, it is feared, involve greater additional expense than could properly be incurred.
§ MR. D. MACALEESE (Monaghan, N.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if complaints have been made to the Post Office authorities regarding the unsatisfactory arrangements in existence since the 1st of June last for the delivery of the morning mails at Portstewart, county Antrim; in view of the fact that the 6.30 a.m. mail train from Belfast, on the Northern Counties Railway, carries letters from Scotland and the various districts of Ireland to all the stations between Belfast and Derry, and is timed to reach Portstewart Station at 8.45 a.m., will he explain why the Portstewart letters and parcels are not delivered till after 12 o'clock noon; Does the railway company transfer the Portstewart mail bags from the mail train at Coleraine, and leave those mail bags to be conveyed to the Portstewart Station later in the day by a train which is not a mail train; is there any clause or condition in the contract with the Northern Counties Railway for the carriage of mails which enables that company to transfer mail bags from the principal mail train of the day, and leave those mail bags at intervening stations to be taken to their destination as the company may deem fit; is it legal to transfer mails in this way; and, considering the great inconvenience which the large number of summer visitors to Portstewart and the residents there suffer, will the Postmaster General remedy this grievance without delay?
§ SIR J. GORST
The Postmaster General has received complaints of the late delivery of the morning mails at Portstewart since the 1st June. Portstewart is on a branch line, and the branch train in immediate connection with the 6.30 a.m. train from Belfast having ceased to call at Portstewart, a subsequent train was employed and the 105 arrival of the mails at Portstewart Station was postponed from 8.45 to 9.5 a.m. There was some further delay after arrival in sending the mails from the station to the Post Office in consequence of there being no tram car available until 9.30 a.m., and the delivery of the letters to the public was for a time not completed until about 12 noon. The transfer of the mails from the main line to the branch line takes place at Coleraine. The train on the branch line is not under the control of the Post Office, and the railway company have broken neither their contract nor the law in withdrawing the stop of the earlier train at Portstewart. Arrangements have been made for getting rid of the further delay after the arrival at Portstewart Station, and the delivery now commences at 9.45 a.m. and is completed by 11.20 a.m. or only 20 minutes later than formerly.
§ MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can arrange that the proposed Irish mail time table shall not be definitely settled until next Session: and, whether be is aware that recent investigations have shown that there is no practical difficulty in acceding to request of the recent deputation to the Postmaster General?
§ SIR J. GORST
It would be impossible to make arrangements by the 1st April next for extending to the Irish provinces the advantages of the acceleration to commence on that date if the time table of the service between London and Dublin were not settled until next Session. The Postmaster General is not aware of any investigations which have shown that the request of the recent deputation could be acceded to without practical difficulty.
§ SIR J. GORST
If the hon. Member will apply to the Postmaster General, I think he will find him ready to meet his wishes.
§ MR. FIELD
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that, regarding the acceleration of the Irish mail service, an agreement was discussed on the 27th May 1895, promising the arrangement asked for by the recent deputation to the Postmaster General?
§ SIR. J. GORST
No, Sir. The Postmaster General is aware of no such discussion. On the 27th May 1895, a Question was put in this House respecting the agreement then just concluded with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, but no question was raised or promise given that the times desired by the recent deputation would be adopted. Indeed, so long previously as the 16th November 1894, it had been explained by the Postmaster General, at an interview with the representatives of the Chambers of Commerce of Dublin, Cork and Belfast that, while he hoped to arrange for an acceleration of half an hour between Euston and Holyhead so far as the night mail was concerned, this would not mean more than five minutes' gain in the time of arrival in the morning at Holyhead, as it would be impossible to anticipate the present hours of departure of the night mails from Crewe and Chester without a dislocation of the mail service of the whole country. That position has never been departed from.