HL Deb 19 March 1861 vol 162 cc12-4

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read:

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee on the said Bill.


said, the other House had a Committee on this Bill, and he thought their Lordships ought to have before them the Report of that Committee.


was ready to move for the production of the Report, but hoped in the meantime that the Bill would be allowed to pass through its present stage.


said, it had been calculated that when the interest on £800,000 had been paid for forty-five years the cost of the cable to the country would be £2,400,000. He should like to know whether there was any intention of trying to bring up a portion of this cable from the bottom of the Red Sea, or whether the Government meant to try and establish this communication in some better mode? It was impossible to over estimate the importance of such a communication with India, not so much in a commercial as in a political and military point of view. When at the Board of Control he had seen something of the promoters of the line, and he thought he had never seen persons more destitute of any adequate notion as to the proper mode of carrying out such an undertaking; but he did hope that the Government would consider the possibility of laying down a line upon a totally different plan than that adopted by those gentlemen.


said, that the consideration of this subject had not been lost sight of by the Government. The success of any submarine line appeared very problematical, but considerable progress had been made in laying a telegraphic cable down the valley of the Euphrates, and it had already reached as far as Bagdad. Persons of experience thought the best mode of effecting telegraphic communication with India would probably be by land. However, there was one portion of the submarine line—namely, that to Muscat, from the Kooria Mooria Islands which had continued in working order tip to the present time. Probably the projectors of this line would not be disposed to make any further attempt to complete it without further assistance from the Government; but some other company might attempt it. The present Bill, however, did not deal with this question. All he asked their Lordships was to correct by this Bill a verbal error which had crept into the contract, and to put the Company into the position to which they were entitled, being no better and no worse a position than that which they had occupied before.


said, he did not doubt the possibility of laying down telegraphic communication by land with India, but the communication would be at the mercy of every Arab chief, and it would be of no earthly use either in a political, a military, or even a commercial point of view. The moment hostilities broke out the wires would be destroyed. No company could safely make such a communication under a firman, hampered as it was by conditions. He had told the Company that it was only by negotiation and by an understanding between the Turkish and the English Governments that they could effect any telegraphic communication by way of the Red Sea worth having.

Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly; Bill reported without Amendment; and to be read 3a on Tuesday next; and

Message to the Commons for Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the said Bill; together with the Proceedings of the Committee and Appendix.