HC Deb 20 June 1913 vol 54 cc676-8W

asked whether any and, if so, what time of arrival is prescribed for the homeward West Indian mail in the contract of 1911; on how many occasions since February, 1911, the homeward mail has been late in arriving; and whether any and, if so, what penalties have been demanded in respect of such delay?


The contract dated the 4th of November, 1911, between the Postmaster-General and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (House of Commons Paper 337 of 1911), provides that a mailship shall leave Trinidad on every alternate Tuesday, and arrive at Southampton on the following Monday week. The hours of departure and arrival are not prescribed, but it is provided that the connected voyages of the Inter-Colonial steamer sailing from Georgetown to Trinidad (under the contract dated the 29th of August, 1907, between the Crown Agent for the Colonies and the company (House of Commons Paper 24 of 1908) and of the mailships from Trinidad to Southampton shall not exceed 360 hours. The contract provides for payments by the, company to the Postmaster-General, as stipulated, ascertained and liquidated damages, and not by way of penalty, as follows:—(1) On each occasion when the company shall fail to provide a mailship at Trinidad on the appointed day, or, if at any time such a mailship shall not actually put to sea and proceed on her voyage on the appointed day, the company shall pay the sum of £100, provided that the forfeiture of £100 shall be waived if the mailship shall, after putting to sea (though not on the appointed day), arrive at Southampton on the Tuesday following the Monday appointed. (2) On each occasion when the mail shall not be conveyed from Georgetown to Trinidad and Trinidad to the United Kingdom within 360 hours, the company shall pay a sum of £50 for every complete period of twelve hours by which the time actually occupied exceeded the period of transit, provided that no such sum shall be payable if the time actually occupied shall exceed the period of transit by less than twenty-four hours. Since the commencement of the contract the period of transit from Georgetown to Southampton has been exceeded by twenty-four hours or more on only one occasion, namely, on the voyage ended at Southampton on the 31st of May, 1912. In this case a sum of £100 was paid by the company in respect of failure to provide a mailship at Trinidad on the appointed day; but the circumstances were not such as to warrant the exaction from the company of any further damages in respect of late arrival at Southampton. Particulars of the occasions on which the period of transit has been exceeded are set forth in the subjoined table:—

Date of Arrival at Southampton. Time by which voyage Exceeded Period Transit.
Days. Hours Minutes
Monday, 17th April, 1911 40
Monday, 26th June, 1911 1 37
Tuesday, 27th July, 1911 23 30
Monday, 21st Aug., 1911 20
Monday 4th Sept., 1911 1 18
Monday 18th Sept., 1911 2
Monday 16th Oct., 1911 35
Tuesday 6th Feb., 1912 19 55
Monday 1st April 1912 17
Friday, 31st May, 1912 3 22 13
Tuesday, 6th Aug., 1912 19 30
Monday, 11th Nov., 1912 1 11
Tuesday, 18thFeb., 1913 15 17
Tuesday 18th March, 1913 21 34
Monday, 31st March, 1913 3 14
Tuesday, 15th April, 1913 5 7
Tuesday 10th June, 1913 14 13

On three further occasions, namely, Tuesday, 9th January, 1912, Wednesday, 6th March, 1912, and Tuesday, 19th March, 1912, the mailship arrived after Monday in consequence of late departure from Trinidad, but the period of transit was not exceeded. In the case of the Wednesday arrival the delay was due to causes beyond the control of the company, which was therefore exempted from liability for damages.