HL Deb 15 April 1858 vol 149 cc1098-100

rose to ask the noble Lord the Postmaster Genera the following questions:—Whether any Arrangement has been definitely come to on the part of Her Majesty's Government, with the Dublin Steam Packet Company, relative to the Transmission of the Mails between Holyhead and Kingstown; and whether the difficulties reported to have arisen with regard to carrying into effect the object of larger Vessels, capable of performing the passage in a shorter period of time, being placed on that Station, have been overcome?—The subject was one in which the people of the sister country took a very deep interest, and there was no doubt that the journey between London and Dublin could be performed in from an hour to an hour and a half less time than that which it now occupied.


said, that during the last Session of Parliament, an Act was passed, enabling the London and North Western and the Chester and Holyhead Railway Companies, and the Dublin Steam Packet Company to enter into a compact with the Government on this subject. The heads of an agreement having been prepared, it was submitted to the solicitor of the Post Office, in order to be put into a legal shape, and a draught contract was accordingly drawn up in the beginning of last January, and sent to the Treasury for approval. The document, when approved, was returned to the Post Office, and on the 15th of February it was forwarded to the companies for their signatures. Here the matter stood at present; but the Post Office had no reason to suppose that any objection would be raised, on the part of the companies, or that the contract would not in a short time be completed and put into practical operation. The basis of the arrangement was, that the entire distance between Euston Square and Dublin should be performed in the maximum space of eleven hours; and four largo vessels, of a high tonnage, were to be put upon the station. When the contract had been signed, the construction of the vessels would be commenced.

After a few words from Earl TALBOT,


said, he thought that there were greater difficulties in the way of carrying out this arrangement than either of his noble Friends appeared to apprehend. It appeared, from a Bill that had come before him, that an amalgama- tion was now contemplated between the Chester and Holyhead and the London and North Western Railway Companies, and an arrangement was in progress between them, the effect of which would necessarily be to throw the entire control of the mail and passenger traffic between London and Dublin into the hands of the London and North Western Railway Company. After the expenditure that had been incurred in improving Holyhead and Kingstown Harbour, in order to accelerate the passage between the two kingdoms, it would be a very unwise thing for Parliament to grant a monopoly of the traffic to any one railway company. The parties were now before Parliament, asking for powers; and, until their application was disposed of, nothing would be settled between the steampacket and the railway companies as to the building of a better class of vessels.


regretted to find that, on the whole, this long-pending question had rather retrograded than progressed. It would appear that even the preliminaries of an arrangement for expediting the communication between the two capitals had not yet been decided. The noble Marquess then called attention to what he termed the very disgraceful want of accommodation for passengers, on their arrival at Kingston. A covered way was urgently required at the landing place, and its erection would be attended by a very small outlay. It appeared that some parties were desirous of having the passage between Holyhead and Kingstown so accelerated as to consume only three hours or three hours and a half; but he trusted that the Government would not further their wish, for a passage so speedy as that would endanger the lives of the passengers.


said, he had been assured by one of the most experienced captains plying between Holyhead and Kingstown—namely, Captain Warren —that, in fair weather, the passage could be performed in three hours or three hours and a half, without the slightest risk of endangering life. That gentleman, therefore, suggested that the captains should be at liberty to accomplish the journey in that time, if the weather permitted. The observations of the noble Chairman of Committees diminished the hope that he (Viscount Dungannon) had entertained of a speedy and satisfactory arrangement on this subject. He, nevertheless, trusted that the Government would endeavour to effect a desirable arrangement before the end of the Session. If he did not see that in prospect, he should deem it his duty to bring the subject before the House again.

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