HC Deb 01 April 1898 vol 55 cc1659-60
CAPTAIN C. W. NORTON (Newington, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that last week (it being the second time this winter) the mails for the Continent, viâ Dover and Calais, were delayed at Dover over twenty-four hours owing to the difficulty and risk of entering Calais Harbour in rough weather, whereas the mail packets might either have been sent from Dover to Boulogne, or the mails been forwarded by the Folkestone-Boulogne route; and that on Friday last the Indian mail was put on board two mail steamers which remained at Dover till next day, when, in order not to incur further delay, it was decided to send them with an accumulation of mails to Boulogne, where they entered the port without difficulty; and whether, in view of similar delays, which may occur from time to time in the Channel mail service, and the general inconvenience these delays give rise to, affecting correspondents both in Great Britain and abroad, the English post office will arrange with the French postal authorities to forward the mails, without loss of time, either viâ Dover and Boulogne, or viâ Folkestone and Boulogne, or vice versâ, instead of detaining them even five or six hours at Dover or Calais?


The facts as to the delay which occurred last week are substantially as stated by the hon. and gallant Member, but in the case of the previous interruption to which he refers, it is right to remark that, not only Calais but Boulogne Harbour was impracticable through the state of the weather. The Postmaster General has already made an arrangement with the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway Company for the diversion of the mails under the control of the British post office to Boulogne when deemed necessary, and, in accordance with this arrangement, the Indian mail was sent last Saturday from Dover to Boulogne. But the hon. Member must recollect that the day mail service is not under the control of the British, but of the French, post office, and though the Postmaster General has invited the French Postal Authorities to co-operate with him in the same direction, no definite understanding on the subject has yet been arrived at. He hopes, however, that an arrangement will be concerted before long between the two post offices and the companies concerned.