HC Deb 28 February 1901 vol 90 cc55-6

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that the South African mail arrives frequently, as it did this week, on Monday, thus taking nineteen days from Cape Town; whether he is aware that the new mail boats do the voyage in fifteen or sixteen days, thus securing delivery of the letters three and four days earlier; whether, under a recent arrangement, the voyage of the mails was to be done in sixteen days; and whether he will take steps to secure that the mails shall not in future be carried by the old slow boats of the Union Castle Line.


On three occasions during this year the South African correspondence has only been delivered in London on Monday, the packet having reached Southampton on two of those occasions on Sunday morning, and on the third, late on Saturday night. On the two occasions of a Sunday arrival the packet exceeded, in adverse circumstances, the time allowed for the voyage under the contract, namely sixteen days twenty hours. A contract time of sixteen days fifteen hours comes into force on the 1st of October, 1903. It is a fact that the voyage has been completed by some of the packets in sixteen and even in fifteen days; but the Postmaster General cannot prevent the use of any particular packet of the Union Castle Line which is not up to that speed, especially if the ships can in normal circumstances do the contract speed. If a vessel incapable of performing the contract were habitually employed, the Postmaster General would, of course, represent the matter to the Colonial Government. The contract is not with the Postmaster General, but with the Government of the Cape Colony. Penalties are prescribed for cases in which the contract time is exceeded.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this week again the mail arrives on a Sunday. Can he not do something to facilitate the carrying of them?

[The answer was inaudible.]