HL Deb 14 July 1863 vol 172 cc747-8

asked the Postmaster General, 1st. Whether the Contract for the Conveyance of Mails between Galway and America has yet been concluded? 2nd. Its terms; and whether any and what Modifications, more especially as regards the landing of Mails or Telegrams at Saint John's Newfoundland? 3rd. When the Performance of the Service is to commence? 4th. Whether, notwithstanding the Reports of the Admiralty Surveyors as to the Unfitness of the Vessels, the Government are prepared to incur the Risk of another Failure in this Service? 5th. Whether any steps have been taken by the Government authorities to ensure the Public against the Consequences of those Deficiences in the Vessels of the Galway Company pointed out by the Admiralty Surveyors? There was great anxiety on the part of the public to ascertain the precise facts in regard to this matter. He therefore submitted those questions, which were put in the interest of the Irish people, with a view of eliciting a distinct answer to each. He trusted, therefore, that the noble Lord would give a categorical answer to his five Questions, and that he would not confine himself to a general reply.


said, that with regard to Question No. 1, he had to say that the contract had been drawn up and forwarded to the Company, and it remained for them to accept it or not. He believed they were prepared to accept it. In answer to Question No. 2, the terms of the contract were precisely the same as the previous one, without any modifications, except as regarded two points—the one was that no Member of either House of Parliament should share in the contract; and the other, that before the contract should come in force it should be laid for one month on the table of the House of Commons. No alteration had been made in the terms of the contract as regarded the landing of mails and telegrams at Saint John's, Newfoundland. It was taken for granted that the port of St. John's would be continued as the place for landing and departure of the mails on the opposite side of the Atlantic. As to the third Question, the time at which the contract was to commence would depend upon the time at which the contract was signed; and when the Company intimated that they were ready to perform their part of the contract, the Government would name a day for the performance to commence. In answer to the fourth and fifth Questions, he was not aware of any additional security being provided for the fulfilment of the contract. The Government surveyors had reported to the Admiralty that though the vessels were in some respects fit to perform the voyage, yet possibly when they were loaded they might not be able to keep up the required rate of speed. The Government, however, were not prepared to insist upon the complete fulfilment of the terms of the contract in that respect; but if the voyages were not performed within the time specified, the Government would insist upon the penalties stipulated for in the terms of the contract. He had nothing further to say upon the subject.