§ SIR EDWARD GOURLEY (Sunderland)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state to the House the names of the transports engaged for the conveyance of mules to South Africa, also the names of the contracting companies, and rates per head per mule, the number of animals shipped on board each vessel, and the number landed alive from each at the ports of destination; whether any of the vessels were allowed to convey the mules without regulation side ports; is it intended to 1221 claim damages from the contractors for the non-delivery of all the animals shipped; and whether the major portion of the contracts were given to a shipping firm in Liverpool, the chairman of which, being a Member of Parliament, was given precedence as such in interviewing the officials at the Admiralty, whilst the representatives of other firms had to wait their turn for admission.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
In answer to the first question I have to say that substantially the information in the first question of the hon. Member will be given in the return of transports which is now being prepared, except as regards the rates per head, which will not be published while ships continue to be chartered. There is no objection to mules being carried between decks without side lights if proper artificial ventilation is provided. The hon. Member must know that it is not the custom to hold the shipowner responsible for the non-delivery of animals shipped in the ordinary course of trade. They might die quite irrespective of the character of the ship. In some cases a proportion of the payment due has been dependent upon the number actually delivered. As regards the last question, if it is intended to suggest that any favour was shown, I must emphatically state that it is incorrect. No favour was shown to the gentleman in question, nor was the major portion of the contracts assigned to him.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Is it the fact that a member of the Government is one of the directors of this contracting company?