HL Deb 22 May 1845 vol 80 cc754-5
Lord Brougham

presented a memorial from the General Assembly of Newfoundland, signed by the Speaker, praying that the Royal Mail Steam Packets should, on their way to Halifax, touch at St. John's. By the present arrangement, the mail-bags were taken to Halifax, and then sent back to St. John's, thus losing the time consumed in sending the Newfoundland mails unnecessarily a distance of 1,000 miles, it being about 500 miles to Halifax from St. John's.

Lord Stanley

could not complain of the course which the noble and learned Lord had taken, in stating the substance of the petition, nor did he at all question the very great importance of the subject to which it adverted. It would, however, have been more convenient to their Lordships, and more satisfactory to the petitioners, if the noble and learned Lord had informed him that he was about to present the petitition, and thus have enabled him to ascertain the facts of the case, and to make such a statement as might be satisfactory to the House and to the petitioners. [Lord Brougham: Let it stand over then.] Oh, no; I am not anxious to give my noble and learned Friend the opportunity of making another speech. The noble Lord then stated that he wished their Lordships to bear in mind that it was impossible to make Post Office arrangements for the advantage of one Colony alone, without considering the wants and consulting the benefit of the other Colonies. Besides, the harbour of St. John was only open during certain portions of the year, whereas that of Halifax was open the whole year round. He was aware that frequent official correspondence had taken place on this subject, and that the attention of the Government had been anxiously directed to ascertaining the best mode for the safe and speedy transmission of the mails passing to and from the Colonies.

Lord Brougham

I think that my noble Friend, was exceedingly premature with his pleasantry, and to tell the truth, I never heard a piece of pleasantry which had less foundation in fact. Indeed, it is not the nature of pleasantry to be always founded on fact; and it is often the more entertaining and lively from its not being so founded—which latter was the case in the present instance, without its being either entertaining or lively. There was no fact and very little joke in what the noble Lord said; but that is his misfortune, and not his fault. As to the harbour of St. John's being closed during certain portions of the year, that would not preclude an arrangement being made whereby the mails would be sent direct to that harbour when it was accessible. The objection is—at least one objection—that the harbour is not open during the whole year. But the mails are now sent to Halifax, and then a portion of them sent back to St. John's, and I cannot see how the harbour can be more open for the admission of mails, after they have been sent to Halifax, and thus, before they reach St. John's, made to travel an additional 1,000 miles, by being sent the roundabout instead of the direct way. But it may be said, that during a great part of the year the mails are sent overland to Newfoundland from Halifax—a statement only partially true, and one which it is impossible can be wholly true, inasmuch as it cannot be sent all the way by land, from the intervention of the sea. I trust your Lordships will not lose sight of the prayer of this petition.

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