HC Deb 01 June 1897 vol 50 cc15-6

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that all P. and O. steamships from Australia, which take on board Bombay mails and passengers at Aden, are, in consequence of the existence of bubonic plague at Bombay, quarantined with their passengers at all the ports of call, Suez, Port Said, Brindisi, Marseilles, etc.; whether he has received petitions, signed by nearly all the passengers by the P. and O. steamer Parramatta, from Australia, strongly protesting against the present practice of taking the Bombay passengers at Aden on their clean ship, pointing out the further inconvenience they were subjected to by not being allowed to land at ports of call, entailing delay and discomfort, and also that there is a weekly service of mails from Bombay to Aden, which might be extended to Brindisi, as it is now done fortnightly; whether the statement made by the petitioners is correct that the P. and O. Company is not responsible, as the terms of their mail contract compel their steamers to call at Aden; and whether the Government will taken action in the matter without delay?


The Postmaster General understands that all Peninsular and Oriental steamships from Australia which take on board passengers from Bombay at Aden are placed in quarantine at the Egyptian ports of call. At Brindisi and Marseilles he believes there is now no regular quarantine, but only a certain medical inspection which causes little delay. The petition referred to from passengers on the steamship Parramatta has been received. The statement that the call at Aden is compulsory under the contracts of the Peninsular and Oriental Company with the Postmaster General is not quite correct. The mail steamers from Australia are not obliged to call at Aden, but the Company are at liberty under the terms of the contracts to make these steamers call there and carry the mails from Bombay to Europe. A copy of the petition has been sent to the Company; but, as I stated in reply to a similar Question on April 12 last, it is not in accord with the duty of the Post Office Department to lake further steps in a matter which does not directly affect the mail service.