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The Irish Mails

Volume 32: debated on Tuesday 9 April 1895

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I beg to ask the Postmaster General if he is now in a position to make a definite statement on the subject of the tenders for the mail contract between Dublin and Holyhead, and between Holyhead and London? May I supplement that question by asking whether the right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have to-day received a communication from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in which they protest against the adoption of any boats smaller than those proposed by tender No. 2, and asking the Postmaster General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to receive a deputation?

I have got a telegram to that effect. I propose also to answer the question in the name of the hon. Member for the St. Patrick Division of Dublin. [Mr. W. FIELD asked the Postmaster General whether he was in a position to make a statement regarding the mail contract via Queenstown, Kingstown, and Holyhead; and, whether acceleration and increased accommodation would be provided on land and sea?] I have seen the Directors of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company to-day, and they have promised to provide me with some further data showing how the amount of the tender is made up, on which they are anxious that I should obtain some technical advice. Pending the consideration of these figures, I regret to say that I am unable to make any definite announcement. I may repeat that, under any new contract, it is my desire to obtain an acceleration of half-an-hour, together with the requisite accommodation for the mails, and accommodation for passengers at least equal to that afforded in the Ireland. I am happy to be able to state that the special service for accelerating the Saturday American mail was successfully inaugurated on Saturday last. The new mail train arrived at Queenstown punctually at the appointed time, 6.45a.m., and the Cunard Mail Packet was able to get away from Queenstown by ten minutes to eight, instead of about midday as heretofore.

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there is my intention to accept a tender for boats of a smaller size than those mentioned in No. 2?

I am afraid I cannot make a statement until after the decision of the Government.

Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman when he expects to be able to make a declaration with regard to this matter. We have had it now under consideration I do not know how many times, and we have never had any kind of a definite reply from the right hon. Gentleman. All the commercial community of Dublin and the whole of Ireland are united on this question?

Is not the sole matter in dispute some objections on the part of the Treasury? Are they not the only stumbling-block in the way, and cannot the right hon. Gentleman get over that stumbling-block in a matter of national importance? Will he assure the House that he will give a definite answer by the termination of the Recess?

I cannot say more than that I am most anxious to lose no time whatever in coming to a decision. There is a substantial difference between the amount offered by the company and the amount the Government is justified in giving.

Is not the Treasury the objector. Has not the City of Dublin Steam packet Company offered to submit the whole matter to arbitration, and has not the right hon. Gentleman power to submit to arbitration in this matter?

It is a most unusual course for the Government to submit any such matter to arbitration.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give any answer to this before the Dissolution?

[MR. A. MORLEY did not reply]