HC Deb 10 August 1896 vol 44 cc373-5
MR. J. L. CAREW (Dublin, College Green)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether, inasmuch as it has been positively stated to the Chambers of Commerce by qualified experts that the Post Office Department will not find any practical difficulty in acceding to the request of the deputation which recently waited on the Postmaster General, viz., that the full two hours provided by the accelerated service shall be given to Ireland, he will undertake that the proposed time-table of the Post Office shall not be decided on till next Session, so as to allow the views of the Chambers of Commerce to be more fully investigated by the Department?


The Postmaster General has no knowledge of the statements alleged to have been made by qualified experts to the Chambers of Commerce; but if the Chambers of Commerce consider them of importance it is hoped they will communicate them to him, which they have not hitherto done. In reference to the latter part of the Question, he must repeat that, as was stated in reply to a similar question on Friday, 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.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, at the interview which the Chambers of Commerce had with the Postmaster General, these representations were made; was there a shorthand writer present at the interview, or is there any means of ascertaining what was said by the Postmaster General and what was said on behalf of the deputation?


I was not at the deputation, so I do not know whether there was a shorthand writer present, but the Postmaster General denies that he has the information mentioned.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Scotch mails, which have been made the pretext for this arrangement, are brought by very slow trains?


I will inquire as to that, but I may say that one other difficulty is connected with the junction of the trains, I think, at Crewe. As regards the night down mails, it would be necessary to put on a special train, because the night mails are carried by the Scotch mail train.


I would ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as Secretary to the Treasury and not as representing the Postmaster General, if he will see that we get value for our money?


Is the right hon Gentleman aware that a short postponement would be quite difficult for the consideration of this matter?


I will convey that suggestion to the Postmaster General, and see whether it can be carried out.


On behalf of the hon. Member for West Kerry (Sir THOMAS ESMONDE), I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, when the Resolution confirming the new contracts for the conveyance of mails between London and Dublin will be brought before the House; what is the duration of the proposed new contracts; whether an opportunity will be given for the discussion of the question on the Appropriation Bill; and, whether, in view of the strong feeling in Ireland on the matter, he will defer the definite settlement of the mail time-table until next Session, so as to allow time for investigation as to how far it is possible to meet the wishes of the Irish public in this respect?


The new contract for the conveyance of mails between Holyhead and Kingstown has already been approved by the House by Resolution, on. July 4th, 1895. The contract is to remain in force for 20 years from April 1st next. Railway contracts are not, as sea contracts are, approved by Resolution of the House. The agreement with the London and North-Western Railway Company for the acceleration of the Irish night mail trains is supplemental to the contract of 1883, and the whole arrangement can be terminated at 12 months' notice by either side. It will not be possible, as explained to the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin on Friday last, to defer the settlement of the time-table for the new service between London and Dublin until next Session without postponing for the Irish provinces the advantages of the acceleration.