§ SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether, in view of the threatened difficulties to the transit of the Indian mails through France and other European countries on account of the plague at Bombay, and the possibility of the existing mail service being interfered with, arrangements will be considered for conveying the Indian mails from Port Said direct to this country; whether he is aware that the distance by sea between Port Said and Plymouth is almost identical with that between New York and Plymouth, which has been done by mail steamers in little more than six days; and whether, in the event of serious interruption of the overland mail service, either in consequence of quarantine regulations or international complications, an expeditious sea service can be provided?
§ MR. HANBURY
No objection has yet been raised to the transit of mails from India through Italy and France; and in the event of that route being interrupted hereafter the hon. Member may rest assured that every effort will be made to secure the conveyance of the mails to this country by sea as quickly as possible. His calculations as to distances are accurate, but the shortest voyage from New York to Plymouth occupied about six days and a half, and the average length of the passages was nearer seven than six days. He is of course aware that the conditions of the passenger trade have not developed nearly so high a speed on the lines to and from the East as on the New York line; that on the latter there are few steamers afloat that can accomplish the voyage to New York in a little over six days, and these are not available for the Mediterranean and Eastern service.