MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that H.M.S. Algerine, which left England on 27th February last for the China Station, had, up to the 17th April, received only three mails, one at Gibraltar, one at Malta, and one at Aden, but none at Port Said, none at Suez, and none at Colombo; whether there has been any material departure from the original programme of dates for the arrival at and departure 615 from the various ports of this vessel; and, if not, whether he can explain why the Post Office authorities have failed to dispatch her mails so as to catch her at the ports named; and, whether greater care will be taken to insure the due forwarding of letters for Her Majesty's ships on the various foreign stations so as to ensure their receipt by the crews without unnecessary delay?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. R. W. HANBURY,) Preston
The mails for H.M.S. Algerine were forwarded strictly in accordance with the information received from the Admiralty. On the 27th and 28th of February the ship's bags were dispatched to Gibraltar; after the 28th of February and up to the 10th of March they were sent to Malta; after the 10th and up to the 19th of March they were sent to Aden, and afterwards to Singapore. No request was made by the Admiralty for mails to be sent to this ship at Port Said, Suez, or Colombo. Every care is taken by the Post Office to ensure the due forwarding of correspondence for Her Majesty's ships. Mails were advisedly not sent to Port Said or Suez for Algerine, on account of the doubt of their catching the ship at those ports. Colombo was omitted through a regrettable oversight, which occurred at the Admiralty in making the very large number of alterations in the mail list, which are of daily occurrence, and frequently of considerable intricacy. I understand, however, that complaints of the non-receipt of letters by Her Majesty's ships in all parts of the world, are of rare occurrence.