§ MR. BAINES
said, he would bog to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he intends to proceed this evening with the Order of the Day which stands on the Paper for the second Reading of the News papers Conveyance Bill?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the Newspapers Conveyance Bill has not yet been printed, and has been reserved for the purpose of submitting to the House at the same time the regulations to be made by authority of the Treasury, which the adoption of such a Bill would require. But I am obliged to my hon. Friend for putting this question, because it will enable me to state what appears to be the convenient course to take with respect to the measure. The reasons on which the Bill is founded are chiefly or entirely departmental and administrative reasons; but a portion of the parties affected by it are disposed to contest those reasons, and to urge that the present system of a stamp on superficies, instead of a single stamp on weight, with the privilege of retransmission is accompanied by certain incidents which make it, on the whole, a beneficial and an economical arrangement for the public. That is an allegation which, however it may be opposed to the view of the authorities in the Post Office Department, is yet a fair subject for inquiry, and I should not like to urge the disposal of a subject of this kind without attending to such a fair allegation, which it is competent for those parties to make, and fairly within the province of the House of Commons to consider. We are, however, met by this difficulty. Sir Rowland Hill, the Secretary to the Post Office, I regret to say, has been labouring under a severe illness, and an intimation has been made to him on medical authority that it is absolutely requisite, in order to the public retaining his invaluable services, that he should have leave of absence for no less a period than six months. I think, therefore, it will be impossible for the Department to state its case on a subject of this kind in the absence of one who, I may say, has been the life and soul of all the Post Office arrangements in this country for the last twenty years. Under these circumstances, I have no alternative but to postpone that inquiry which I admit to be fairly demanded, and as it is uncertain whether or not Sir Rowland Hill may re- 1206 cover before the end of the Session, I think it best to drop the Bill, reserving to myself the renewal of it at a future period, after this inquiry shall have been made. I would, therefore, move that the Order of the Day for the Second Reading of the Newspapers Conveyance, &c, Bill be read for the purpose of being cancelled.
§ Order for Second Reading read and discharged.
§ Bill withdrawn.