HL Deb 18 July 1856 vol 143 cc1007-8

said, he was anxious that the Session should not close without some explanation from the Government on a matter which was of the greatest importance to the public. He alluded to the present state of the steam-packet communication between Holyhead and Kingstown. It was hardly necessary for him to remind their Lordships that, after the most minute inquiries on the part of practical men, it had been ascertained that the passage between Holyhead and Kingstown was the best, speediest, and safest between this country and Ireland, and that in consequence a railway had been constructed along the coast from Chester to Holyhead, crossing the Conway and Menai bridges. Yet that part of the passage which was most essential was in reality most defective. In the first place, the present steam-packets could not afford sufficient accommodation for the passengers who were perpetually passing and repassing; and, in the second, the time consumed in the passage was far greater than it need be, if steamers of proper horse power were placed upon the station. At present the passage was never under four hours and a half, even in the calmest weather, and if there was any head wind, it was often five hours and a half, and sometimes six hours. If steamers of sufficient horse power were employed, the passage could be made in three hours, and if they were 350 feet in length, there would be ample accommodation for the passengers. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) might not be aware of the inconvenience to which the public was subjected, but if he had often to cross over to Ireland he would see the necessity of some change. He (Viscount Dungannon) hoped that the mere question of expense would not be considered by a great country like this. He should therefore ask his noble Friend whether there was any prospect of an arrangement being come to between Her Majesty's Government and the Steam Packet Company relative to a line of larger vessels with increased horse power.


Said, he wished to ask at what hour the mail train from London would start? The noble Duke on a former occasion had stated that it would start at half-past seven in the morning—a most inconvenient hour.


said, there was a very fair prospect of a satisfactory arrangement being made with the steam-packet companies; negotiations were not yet completed, but he hoped they would come to a speedy conclusion. With regard to the remark of the noble Marquess, he would observe that it was the clear duty of the department with which he was connected to accelerate as much as possible the passage of the mails, not only to Dublin, but also to the rest of Ireland. In order to carry out that object, in order to prevent other parts of Ireland from being sacrificed to the metropolis, it was essential that the mails should arrive at Dublin in sufficient time to allow of the departure of the provincial mails as early as they were now despatched. If they were allowed to be despatched at a later hour the arrangements for the distribution of the letters in the distant parts of the country would be seriously disturbed. He did not think there was anything very unreasonable in requiring passengers to start from London for Dublin at half-past seven in the morning.

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