§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether the attention of the Postmaster General has been called to the fact that, on the 5th and 19th February, and the 1st March 1896, mails arriving at Plymouth after 8 p.m. have been there detained for three and a half hours, four and a half hours, and seven hours respectively, before being dispatched to London, and have not been delivered in the city until late in the afternoon of the following day, and whether, in order to prevent serious inconvenience and loss to merchants in London and elsewhere, he will revert to the practice followed up to a recent period of dispatching such mails by special trains?
§ SIR WILLIAM DUNN (Paisley)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he can explain why the South African mails by the Union steamer Mexican, which reached Plymouth at 7.30 p.m. on Sunday, the 1st instant, were not delivered in London until the afternoon of Monday, the 2nd instant; whether he is aware that frequent delays have occurred of late, and will he take steps to prevent a recurrence?
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
It is thought well to answer this Question and that of the hon. Member for Paisley (No. 58) together. The principle governing the employment of special trains for the conveyance from Plymouth of mails landed at that port has been explained 217 in this House in answer to similar Questions, namely, to use special trains when, by such means and no other, an interval for reply by the next outgoing mail can be afforded. On the three dates cited in the first Question there certainly was an interval of some hours before the mails were dispatched from Plymouth, but in on case was there any urgency on account of the approaching departure of an outgoing mail. On each occasion the Packet arrived before she was due, and there was nearly a week's interval for reply. Although on the first two days referred to the letters were delivered late in the afternoon, on the third day, viz., that on which the mails were brought by the Mexican, they were sent out at 2.5 p.m., and, therefore, delivered during business hours in the city. It is not thought that the circumstances would warrant a return to the former indiscriminate use of special trains.