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File 3531/1905 Pt 1 ‘Mesopotamia:- Euphrates + Tigris S. N. Co.; Mail contract’ [‎322r] (13/148)

The record is made up of 1 item (72 folios). It was created in 1904-1905. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.

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Enclosure No. 9.
The Euphrates and Tigris Steam Navigation Company to India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. .
3, Salter’s Hall Court, Cannon Street, E.C.,
Sir, 9th Novemher 1904.
I have placed your letter of the 9th September before my
Directors, and, in reply, I have the honour to set before you their
observations as follows :—
If the words “ as far as is compatible with the reasonable require-
“ ments of their trade, the communication between the two ports shall
“ he weekly ” in Clause 5 were omitted, and the draft proposed in your
letter under acknowledgment were substituted, there would then no
longer, they submit, be any provision in the Contract to meet the case
(which is very frequent during the season of low water) where a steamer
starts within her appointed time, hut is unable to reach her destination
in time to enable her punctually to perform her share in the weekly
service, owing to the insufficiency of water in the river. This case
would probably not be met by the contention on the part of the Com
pany that this was a circumstance beyond their control (see new clause),
because the Consular Officer might object that they could have per
formed the voyage more rapidly had the steamer run empty or with
very little cargo, thus enabling her to cross the shallows over" which a
loaded steamer could not pass. The draft of Clause 5 which you
propose does not, it seems to us, provide for such a case.
Nor, on the other hand, does it seem practicable to us to leave the
decision of the question as to what does and what does not constitute a
proper amount of cargo for a vessel to carry during the low season for
settlement by the Consular Officer. The captain on each occasion
presents a note to the Agent stating the cargo-carrying capacity of his
steamer with the existing condition of the river; and he bases his estimate
upon some sort of compromise in his own mind between getting up
cargo and not unduly delaying his voyage by going aground for long
periods upon the shoals. 13ut under your present proposal the Consular
Officer might urge that in such circumstances the vessel must run
empty, or nearly empty, in order to maintain a weekly service.
Owing to the changing conditions of the river, and the limited
number of steamers we are allowed to run, we are unable during the
low season absolutely to guarantee a weekly service unless we sacrifice
considerable quantities of cargo, in which case we should require a very
much larger subsidy.
As a matter of fact, we rarely omit to maintain such a service even
at that season, the omissions numbering perhaps five or six during the
year. Still we should obviously not be prepared, in view of the
uncertainty as to the future condition of the river, and for the reasons
above stated, to impose what would be a serious disability upon our
steamers in their carrying capacity.
Noting your objection that the words in the old clause have too wide
a scope, and being most anxious to meet the views of the Secretary of
State as far as possible, my Board would venture to suggest that their
scope should bo defined. This might be done by accepting your draft
of Clause 5 with the single addition of the words “ and such consent
shall not be unreasonably withheld,” at the end of the clause, and
amending the new clause between Clauses 11 and 12 to read as follows :—
“ That in case any vessel, employed or to be employed in the performance
“ of this Contract, shall not arrive at Busreh or Baghdad before the end
“ of nine hours calculated from the time fixed for the arrival of such
“ vessel by the said Government officer, then, and in each and every of
“ such cases, and as often as such default shall happen, the Company
“ shall forfeit and pay into the Treasury of the Government of India
“ in Calcutta or Bombay as and by way of liquidated damages, the sum
“ of rupees fifteen for every hour aud fraction of an hour after the time
1583G. C

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Part 1 of the volume comprises correspondence relating to, as well as draft copies of (ff 325-327, ff 338-341, ff 384-386) an indenture for the renewal of the concession agreed between the Euphrates and Tigris Steam Navigation Company (ETSNC) and the British Government, for the conveyance of mail between Busreh [Basra] and Baghdad. The part’s principal correspondents are: the Secretary of the ETSNC (Frank Bottomley); the Legal Adviser and Solicitor to the Secretary of State for India (Sir Horatio Hale Shephard); the Assistant Under-Secretary of State to the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. (Sir Horace George Walpole).

The discussion between Government officials focuses on clauses relating to the maintenance of regular weekly communication between Basra and Baghdad by the ETSNC (clause 5), and the resultant penalties (or exemptions from penalties) incurred by delays or cancellations to the mail service (clauses 11 to 13).

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1 item (72 folios)
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File 3531/1905 Pt 1 ‘Mesopotamia:- Euphrates + Tigris S. N. Co.; Mail contract’ [‎322r] (13/148), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/88/1, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100031751619.0x000035> [accessed 22 November 2019]

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