HC Deb 09 September 1909 vol 10 cc1624-5

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Contract, dated the 27th day of February, 1909, between the Postmaster-General and the West Cornwall Steamship Company, Limited, for the conveyance of Mails between Penzance and the Scilly Islands (printed in Parliamentary Paper No. 136, of 1909), be approved."—[Mr. Hobhouse.]


I am sorry to again trouble the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps he will allow me first to thank him for the information he has just given me with regard to the Ardrossan and Belfast contract. In respect of the one now before the House will he say if it involves any change, if any additional expenditure is incurred, and what amount of advantage will accrue to the public by reason of the contract we are now asked to approve.

Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—


I was asking the Secretary to-the Treasury if he would be good enough to give the House particulars as to the reason why the Treasury has found it necessary to alter the old contract, or if there were no old contract, to establish a new one. I am also anxious to know the amount of money which is involved, the details as to the service, and for what period this contract is to run. The hon. Gentleman will doubtless give us the information which, after all, is of some importance, because if these contracts are to be submitted to the House of Commons they should be submitted in order that they may be fully explained, so that the taxpayers shall know exactly what is involved. We have too much of this pro forma sort of approval. It is because there is an increasing tendency for legislation which involves these contracts being rushed through that I am anxious that we should establish regular rules that when they come up for discussion, whatever the hour of the day or night, they should be fully explained by the Minister in charge, so that the public may know exactly what is being done.


I think the House-will agree with me that it is quite unnecessary for me to give any further information than that so fully set out in the Parliamentary Paper No. 136. The facts are very clearly set out there. The contract is for a small sum, under £1,000 a year. A fresh contract has to be entered into because the old company went bankrupt. The new contract only costs the country £104 a year more. It gives a bi-weekly service instead of a tri-weekly. There were no other tenders offered to the Department. I think that on the whole the Post Office are obtaining very good value for their money.

Whereupon Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in pursuance of the Order of the House of 20th August, adjourned the House without Question put.

Adjourned at Four minutes after One o'clock.