HC Deb 17 December 1912 vol 45 cc1303-4

asked the Postmaster-General whether a reply has now been sent to the request of the Australian Government, sent in July last, that a subsidiary conference should be called for the purpose of considering the question of laying a State-owned Atlantic cable; and whether the Government of the Australian Commonwealth are entitled to call for this conference, in view of the terms of the resolution passed at the Imperial Conference, which expressly laid down that this subsidiary conference could be called if the parties to the conference were not satisfied with the reduced rates?


As I in formed the hon. Member on 21st November, the Government are suspending their reply to the Australian Government until further reduction in the cable rates between this country and North America, Australia, and New Zealand, which have recently been under consideration, have been brought into effect. The resolution passed by the Imperial Conference contemplated the summoning of a subsidiary conference in the event 4of considerable reductions in the Atlantic cable rates not being effected in the near future. In addition to the reductions which were effected earlier in the year, further reductions are now in contemplation, and the Australian Government will be informed as soon as possible of the result of the negotiations Pending their consideration of that information, the question of a subsidiary conference remains in abeyance.


As the dispatch from the Australian Government asking for a subsidiary conference was sent as long ago as July last, can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Government of this country will give them an answer?


I hope that the further reductions will be introduced by 1st January, but I cannot be quite certain. The reply will be sent to the Australian Government immediately after.