§ SIR EDWARD SASSOON (Hythe)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Indo-European Telegraph Com- 798 pany, respectively, pay to Her Majesty's Government, in accordance with the terms of the International Telegraph Convention, the sum of 2d. per word as terminal tax on all extra-European telegrams intended for the United Kingdom and reaching this country by the above-named companies' cables, and what is the total amount due to Her Majesty's Government from these companies individually during the year 1898–9 for this terminal tax; and whether he would state the nature and terms of any agreement which, as indicated in the evidence of the Eastern Telegraph Company's representatives before the Pacific Cable Committee, may have been come to in connection with this terminal tax between the Post Office authorities and this company, as well as the number of extra European messages, and the average number of words in each such message having reached this country through the cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Indo-European Telegraph Company respectively, and the amount actually received from each of them during 1898–9.
§ MR. ANSTRUTHER(for Mr. HANBURY) (St. Andrews Burghs)
My hon. friend has been misinformed. The International Convention does not require the companies to make the payment he describes, and no agreement in connection with it has been come to with the Post Office. As to the extra-European telegrams reaching this country by the companies' lines, the Post Office is not in possession of the particulars he indicates.
§ SIR EDWARD SASSOON
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Indo-European Telegraph Company pay to Her Majesty's Government the covenanted transit rate of three halfpence per word on all extra-European messages reaching the United Kingdom by the above-mentioned companies' cables and destined to Transatlantic addresses; the total amount due to Her Majesty's Government during 1898–9; the total number of such messages; the average number of words per message for this period; and in the event of any agreement having been come to between the Post Office authorities and these two cable companies individually, whether he would state the nature and particulars of such agreement, and the amount received by 799 Her Majesty's Government from them on account of these transit taxes for the year 1898–9.
§ MR. ANSTRUTHER (for Mr. HANBURY)
The answer is in the negative. The messages are handed over direct to the Transatlantic companies, and are neither handled, counted, nor charged for by the Post Office.