HC Deb 17 May 1901 vol 94 cc449-50

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether a public tender for the construction of the Chefoo—Wei-hai-wei cable was asked for; and whether he can explain why, in the interests of the public service and in view of the terms granted to the contracting company, the Government did not undertake the construction and working of the cable.


(1) The question of calling for public tenders was carefully considered, but it was found that the arrangements between the Chinese Government and the Eastern Extension and Great Northern Telegraph Companies as to landing rights in China, etc., rendered competition impossible. (2) The Chefoo—Wei-hai-wei cable forms a spur to the existing system of the Eastern Extension Company in China, and the advantages of having it worked by them, under due restrictions as to the nationality of the staff, etc., are held to greatly outweigh any disadvantages resulting therefrom. The agreement provides for the termination of the working agreement at any time at short notice if the arrangement is found unsatisfactory. (3) At the time the cable was laid the need for communication was urgent, and the Eastern Extension Company were in an exceptionally good condition to do the work expeditiously on behalf of His Majesty's Government. I should like to add that we have every reason to be satisfied with their readiness to meet our wishes.