§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that telegrams addressed from France to Dover have to be transmitted through London, and that, in consequence of this arrangement, the 1035 mail packet which left Dover on the morning of the 28th December last had to return to that port because of the delay in the telegram despatched from Calais with warning that the entry into Calais Harbour was impossible; and whether arrangements can be made so that, in future, telegrams from France to Dover or Folkestone should be transmitted direct instead of through London?
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether, owing to the stormy weather prevailing on 29th November, 1897, a telegram was dispatched from Calais at 10.25 a.m. to Dover intimating that it was not safe for the Dover-Calais boat to attempt a landing at Calais; whether such telegram failed to reach its destination till 1.50 p.m., and was much too late to prevent the boat from starting; whether the boat, having started and crossed the Straits and found the landing at Calais impracticable, was compelled to return to Dover; and, whether it is the fact that since the Post Office took over the telegraphic service, all telegrams from Calais to Dover have to be passed through London?
§ MR. HANBURY
I think it will be convenient if I answer these Questions together. They both apparently relate to the same incident, which happened on the 29th November. There was no interruption in the Mail service on the 28th December, and the facts are as stated by the hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield. The Postmaster-General is aware that telegrams from France to Dover have to be transmitted through London. The delay to the telegram in question, however, was not attributable to this cause, but to the interruption by the storm of the line between the Telegraph Office in Calais and the landing-place of the cable on the French Coast, about six miles away, which necessitated the circulation of the telegram by a very circuitous route, as many other French land lines were also interrupted. There is not sufficient traffic to justify the allocation of direct wires between France and Dover or Folkestone, and the transmission of the 1036 telegrams through London does not involve any appreciable delay. The Postmaster General is, however, considering whether it will be possible to make any arrangements whereby the consequences of an interruption of the normal communications may be rendered less serious than they were on the occasion in question.