HL Deb 26 July 1856 vol 143 cc1478-9

adverting to the contract recently concluded by the Government for postal communication with Australia, complained that it must necessarily fail in the essential points of the communication, inasmuch as its terms were such as could not possibly be performed. The contractors undertook to perform the voyage outwards in thirty-nine days, and the voyage inwards in thirty-five days; and, in order to do that, their vessels must proceed at an average rate of from ten and a half to eleven knots an hour. The utmost speed, however, of their present vessels was nine and three quarters knots, and, therefore, it was impossible for them to complete the voyage in these periods of time. What cast suspicion over the transaction was, that tenders at a cheaper rate, and, he thought, of a superior description, had been sent in by other parties. He might be told that the contractors were liable to a penalty of £100 per day if they failed to perform the distance in the given time, but it was a notorious fact that they could well afford to pay such a penalty out of the surplus profits which would accrue to them under the contract. On the whole, he thought that the prospects of the colony, with regard to postal communication with England, were worse than ever under this new arrangement.


expressed his regret at the absence of the Postmaster General, but said, that, as far as he was informed, he believed the penalties were sufficient to insure the performance of the contract, and that power was reserved by the Government to break the contract at any period, if it were carried out in an unsatisfactory manner. He under- stood that the thirty-nine days meant from Suez to Australia, and as very recently a sailing vessel had accomplished the whole distance in fifty-nine days, he thought it was very probable that, with the assistance of steam, the contractors might complete the voyage in a satisfactory manner in fifty days, including the passage from England to Suez.

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