Online Encyclopedia

COMMERCIAL ASPECTS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 529 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
COMMERCIAL ASPECTS. The earliest practical trial of electrical telegraphy was made in 1837 on the London and North Western Railway, and the first public line under the patent of Wheatstone and Cooke was laid from Paddington to SIough on the Great Western Railway in 1843. At first the use of the telegraph was alm9st entirely confined to railways. The Electric Telegraph Company, formed to undertake the business of transmitting telegrams, was incorporated in 1846. For some time it restricted its operations to constructing and maintaining railway telegraphs and was not commercially successful. Its tariff was 1s. for 20 words within a radius of 50 miles, Is. 6d. within loo miles, 5s. if exceeding 10o miles. After about five years great improvements were made in the working of the telegraphs and the industry began to make progress. Telegraphic money orders were established in 185o; a cable was laid between Dover and Calais, and in November 1851 the stock exchanges of London and Paris were able for the first time to compare prices during business hours of the same day; numerous companies were formed, some of which were independent of the railways, and keen competition led to considerable extensions of wires and reduction of tariffs, with the result that a large increase in the volume of business took place. In the period from 1855 to 1868 the number of messages carried annually by all the telegraph companies of the United Kingdom increased from 1,017,529 to 5,781,989, or an average annual increase of 16.36 per cent. During this period the Electric Telegraph Company's average receipts per message fell from 4s. Id. to 2s. old., or just over half, while the number of messages increased nearly fourfold. The working expenses were reduced in a progressively larger ratio, e.g. in 1859 the average working expenses were 2S. 7d. per message or more than 65 per cent. of the receipts, while in 1869 they were Is. old. per message or only 51 per cent. of the receipts. Much dissatisfaction was felt because the larger towns where competition had been most keen were unduly benefited to the neglect of smaller towns where the business was comparatively less profit-able, but it must be remembered that the telegraph lines followed the railways and that many towns were not served owing to their opposition to the railways. In 1856 the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce began an agitation for the purchase by the government of the telegraphs, and other chambers of commerce in Great Britain joined the agitation, which was strongly supported by the Press. In 1865 the Postmaster-General (Lord Stanley) commissioned Mr F. T. Scudamore, second secretary to the Post Office, to inquire and report whether the electric telegraph service could be beneficially worked by the Post Office, and whether it would entail any very large expenditure on the Post Office beyond the purchase of the rights. At that time the total number of places supplied with telegraphic communication by all the companies collectively, including railway stations, was 2500, whereas the number of places having postal communications was over 10,000. Under the then existing telegraphic tariff the charge in Great Britain was a shilling for a twenty-word message over a distance not exceeding ioo miles ; Is. 6d. for a like message over distances from loo to 200 miles; 2S. when exceeding 500 miles. For a message between Great Britain and Ireland thecharge ranged from 3S. to 6s.; to Jersey or Guernsey it was 75. 8d. There were also extra charges under contingent regulations of great complexity, which commonly added 5o per cent. to the primary charge, and frequently doubled it. Mr Scudamore, who was regarded as the author of the bill for the acquisition of the telegraph systems, reported that the charges made by the telegraph companies were too high and tended to check the growth of telegraphy; that there were frequent delays of messages; that many important districts were unprovided with facilities; that in many places the telegraph office was inconveniently remote from the centre of business and was open for too small a portion of the day; that little or no improvement could be expected so long as the working of the telegraphs was conducted by commercial companies striving chiefly to earn a dividend and engaged in wasteful competition with each other; that the growth of telegraphy had been greatly stimulated in Belgium and Switzer-land by the annexation of the telegraphs to the Post Offices of those countries and the consequent adoption of a low scale of charges; that in Great Britain like results would follow the adoption of like means, and that the association of the telegraphs with the Post Office would produce great advantage to the public and ultimately a large revenue to the state. In support of these views he reported that in Belgium in 1863 a reduction of 33 per cent. in the charge had been followed by an increase of 8o per cent. in the number of telegrams, and that in 1886 a reduction of 50 per cent. in the charge had been followed by an increase of 85 per cent. in the traffic; and similar statistics pointing to increase of business consequent on reduction of rates were produced in regard to France, Switzerland and Prussia. The relative backwardness of telegraphy in Great Britain was attributed to high charges made by the companies and to restricted facilities. Some of the complaints against the companies, however, were exaggerated, and the estimates formed of the possible commercial development of telegraphy were optimistic. The basis for these estimates was the experience of other countries, which, however, did not justify the expectation that a large increase of business consequent on reduction of rates could be obtained without serious diminution of profit. The Belgian state telegraphs were started in 185o and were at first very profitable, but for the years 1866–9 they yielded an average profit of only 2.8 per cent., and subsequently failed to earn operating expenses, the reasons for the steady decline of the profits being the opening of relatively unprofitable lines and offices, increases in wages, and a diminution in growth of the foreign and transit messages which had constituted the most profitable part of the whole business. The Belgian government endeavoured by reducing rates and increasing facilities to stimulate inland telegraphy in the hope of thereby increasing the profits of the department. But these expectations were not realized. Upwards of roo telegraph offices in Belgium despatched on the average less than one telegram per day, and some offices despatched less than one a month. Similar experience was adduced by the working of the state telegraphs in Switzerland and in France. The profits when earned were derived mainly from foreign messages and transit messages between foreign countries, while the receipts from inland messages did not always cover expenses. In 1868 there were in France over 300 telegraph offices whose average receipts did not exceed £8 per annum. In that year the Swiss government reduced the rate for inland telegrams by one-half, and the traffic immediately doubled, but the cost of carrying on the service increased in a larger ratio. The experience of the telegraph companies in the United Kingdom, moreover, showed that a uniform rate, irrespective of distance, of Is. for 20 words, addressed free, was not remunerative in the then state of telegraphy, which made it necessary for messages to be re-transmitted at intervals of about 300 miles. In 1861 the United Kingdom Telegraph Company began a competition with the other companies on the basis of a Is. rate, and the old-established companies were forced to adopt this rate between all points served by the United Kingdom Company; but after a trial of four years it was found that a uniform Is. rate irrespective of distance had not justified itself, and that for any but very short distances the tariff was "utterly unremunerative " notwithstanding a very large increase in volume of business. Even the London District Telegraph Company, which was formed in 1859 for the purpose of transmitting telegraph messages between points in metropolitan London, found that a low uniform rate was not financially practicable. The company began with a tariff of 4d. per io words; it soon increased the rate to 6d. for 15 words with an additional porterage charge for delivery beyond a certain distance, and in 1866 the tariff was raised to Is. The company had 123 M. of line and 83 offices, and in 1865 conveyed over 316,000 messages, but it was not financially successful. Both the telegraph companies and the railway companies had incurred heavy commercial risks in developing the telegraph services of the country and only moderate profits were earned. It cannot justly be said that the companies made large profits while neglecting to develop the services adequately, but it is true that they were not able commercially to comply with many of the demands made upon them by the public. Until speculation took place in anticipation of government purchase, the market prices of the telegraph securities were mostly below par. The stock of the Electric and Inter-national Company, the return on which had reached Io per cent. per annum, however, was valued at about 14 years' purchase of the annual profits. Very little new capital was invested by the telegraph companies about 1865 because of , the natural reluctance of the companies to extend the systems under their control so long as a proposal for their acquisition by the state was under consideration. In 1868 the length of electric telegraph lines belonging to the companies was 16,643 m., and of those belonging to the railway companies 4872 m., or a total of 21,515. With regard to the statement that the companies had installed competitive systems and had expended capital needlessly, it was found by the Post Office authorities that in 1865 less than 2000 M. of telegraph lines, and 350 offices out of a total of over 2000, were redundant. The telegraph companies proposed to effect an amalgamation so as to enable the services to be consolidated and extended, and they proposed to submit to various conditions for the protection of the public, such as maximum rates and limitation of dividends, with the provision that new issues of capital should be offered by auction, but public opinion was averse to the proposal. By 1868 both political parties in the House of Commons had committed themselves to the policy of state purchase of the telegraphs. After much negotiation the basis finally agreed upon between the government and the companies was 20 years' purchase of the profits of the year ended 3oth June 1868. The Chancellor of the Exchequer described the terms as " very liberal but not more liberal than they should be under the circumstances," and stated that Mr Scudamore had estimated that £6,000,000 was the maximum price which the government would have to pay, and that the Postmaster-General would obtain from the telegraphs a net annual revenue of £203,000 at least. In addition to the undertakings of the telegraph companies the government had to purchase the reversionary rights of the railway companies which arose out of the circumstance that the telegraph companies for the most part had erected their poles and wires along the permanent way of the railways under leases which in 1868 had still many years to run. The price awarded to the six telegraph companies was £5,733,000. A further £ioo,000 was paid for the Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and other" undertakings, and about £2,000,000 was paid to the railway companies for their reversionary rights, the cost of which had been estimated at £700,000. The government acquired the perpetual and exclusive way-leaves for telegraph lines over the railways, but the monopoly of the Postmaster-General does not apply to those numerous wires which are required for the protection of life on railways. The telegraphs were transferred to the Post Office on the 5th of February 1870. During the following three years the government spent £500,000 in making good the depreciation suffered by the plant in the transition years of 1868 and 1869, for which allowance had been made in the purchase price, and about £1,700,000 was expended on new plant. During that period 8000 m. of posts, 46,000 m. of wire and about 200 M. of underground pipes were added. The cost of these works had been underestimated, and the report of the Select Committee of the Post Office (Telegraph Department), 1876, states that " the committee have not received any full and satisfactory explanation of the great differences between the estimated expenditure of 1869 and the actual expenditure incurred up to 1876." The excess expenditure caused the Post Office during two or three years to make temporary application of Savings Banks' balances to telegraph expenditure, an expedient which was disapproved of by both the Treasury and the House of Commons. Probably no more arduous task was ever thrown upon a public department than that imposed on the Post Office by the transfer. The reforms which it was to bring about were eagerly and impatiently demanded by the public. This great operation had to be effected without interrupting the public service, and the department had immediately to reduce and to simplify the charges for transmission throughout the kingdom. It had to extend the hours of business at all the offices; it had to extend the wires from railway stations lying outside of town populations to post offices in the centre of those populations and throughout their suburbs; it had also to extend the wires from towns into rural districts previously devoid of telegraphic communication; it had to effect a complete severance of commercial and domestic telegraphy from that of mere railway traffic, and in order to effect this severance it had to provide the railways with ,some 6000 m. of wires in substitution for those of which they had been joint users. It had further to provide at low charges for the distribution of news to the Press; it had, to facilitate the transmission of money orders by telegram; finally, it had to amalgamate into one staff bodies of men who had formerly worked as rivals upon opposite plans and with different instruments, and to combine the amalgamated telegraph staff with that of the postal service. So zealously was the work of improvement pursued that within little more than six years of the transfer the aggregate extent of road wires in the United Kingdom was already 63,000 m. and that of railway wires 45,000, in all io8,000 m. The number of instruments in the telegraph offices was 12,000. At that date the superintending and managing staffs of the Post Office comprised 590 persons, the staff of the old companies with only about one-third of the traffic having been 534 persons. The anticipations as to the increase of messages that would result from the reduction of rates were fully realized. The number of messages increased from about 6,500,000 in 1869 to nearly io,000,00o in 1871 and to 20,000,000 in 1875, but the expectations as to net revenue were not justified by the results. In 1869 Mr Scudamore estimated the operating expenses at 51 to 56 per cent. of the gross revenue. In 187o–1 they were 57 per cent. and in 1871-2, 78 per cent. Since 1873 the capital account has been closed with a total expenditure of £10,867,644, and all subsequent expenditure for extensions, purchase of sites and erection of buildings has been charged against revenue. There are several reasons for the unsatisfactory financial results apart from the high price paid for the acquisition of the telegraphs. The unprofitable extension of the telegraphs has largely contributed to the loss. Moreover, since 1881 the wages and salaries of the telegraph employees have been increased on several occasions in consequence of political pressure brought to bear on members of parliament; and notwithstanding the protest of the government of the day, the House of Commons in 1883 carried a resolution that the minimum rate for inland telegrams should be reduced to 6d. This involved a large extension of wires to cope with increased traffic. The reduced rate took effect as from the Ist of October 1886. Another reason assigned by the committee appointed by the Treasury in 1875 " to investigate the causes of the increased cost of the telegraphic service since the acquisition of the telegraphs by the state " is the loss on the business of transmitting Press messages, which has been estimated as at least £300,000 a year. A further cause has been competition offered by the telephone service, but against this the Post Office has received royalties from telephone companies and revenue from trunk telephone lines. These amounted in 1887 to £26,170 and £I 12 respectively; in 1897 to £85,289 and £113,294, and in 1907 to £240,331 and £479,639 respectively. The following table shows the financial results of the business in the year immediately following the purchase of the telegraphs by the state, in the two years preceding and the two years following the introduction of the 6d. tariff, and in the seven financial years from 19oo-1907:-the British ship " Agamemnon," both being war-ships lent for the purpose by their respective governments. The shore end was landed in Valentia Harbour on the 5th of August, and next morning paying out was started by the " Niagara," to which the laying of the first half had been entrusted. For the first few days the operation proceeded satisfactorily, though slowly, but on the afternoon of the 11th, when 38o m. had been laid, the cable snapped, owing to a mistake in the manipulation of the brake, and the ships returned to Plymouth with what remained. Next year, 700 M. of new cable having been made, the attempt was renewed, with the same ships, but on this occasion it was Year. Number of Gross Receipts. Total e Net Revenue or Net Revenue Interest on Messages. Expenditure. Percentage Deficiency. after omitting Stock created Total from Total for Purchase of Expenditure Expenditure the Telegraphs. to Gross cost of Sites, Receipts. Buildings and Telegraph Extensions. £ £ £ £ £ 1870-71 * 9,850,1i7 801,262 462,762 57.75 338,500 342,618 214,500 1883-84 . 32,843,120 1,789,223 1,808,920 I0I•I0 19,697 330,835 326,417 Deficiency 1884-851 33,278,459 1,784,414 1,820,764 102.03 36,350 274,271 326,417 Deficiency 1885-86 . 39,146,283 1,787,264 1,832,401 102.52 45,137 167,915 326,417 Deficiency 1886-87 . . 50,243,639 1,887,159 2,032,632 107.70 145,473 88,484 326417 Deficiency 1900-01 89,576,961 3,459,353 3,796,994 109.76 337,641 6,861 298,860 Deficiency Deficit 1901-02 . 90,432,041 3,570,046 4,221,927 118.26 651,881 169,772 298,860 Deficiency Deficit 1902-03 . 92,471,000 3,723,866 4,325,577 116.16 601,711 109,760 298,860 Deficiency Deficit 1903-04 • 89,997,000 3,736,115 4,693,898 125.64 957,783 306,108 278,483 Deficiency Deficit 1904-05 . 88,969,000 3,920,023 4,839,459 123.45 919,436 160,989 271,691 Deficiency Deficit 1905-06 . 89,478,000 4,151,380 4,892,199 117.85 740,819 12,693 271,691 Deficiency 1906-07 . 89,493,000 4,369,230 5,021,285 114.92 652,055 214,982 271,691 (Estimated) Deficiency * 5th February 1870.-Transfer of telegraphs to the state. t 1st October 1885.-Introduction of sixpenny tariff. Submarine Telegraphs.-The first commercially successful cable was that laid across the straits of Dover from the South Foreland to Sangatte by T. R. Crampton in 1851, and two years later, after several futile attempts, another was laid between Port Patrick in the south of Scotland and Donaghadee in Ireland. This was followed by various other cables between England and the neighbouring countries, and their success naturally revived the idea which had been suggested in 1845 of establishing telegraphic communication between England and America, though this enterprise, on account of the distance and the greater depth of water, was of a much more formidable character. On the American side Cyrus W. Field acquired a con-cession which had been granted to F. N. Gisborne for a land line connecting St John's, Newfoundland, and Cape Ray, in the Gulf of St Lawrence, and proceeded himself to get control of the points on the American coast most suitable as landing places for a cable. On the British side the question of constructing an Atlantic cable was engaging the attention of the Magnetic Telegraph Company and its engineer Mr (afterwards Sir) Charles Bright. Visiting England in 1856, Field entered into an agreement with Bright and with John Watkins Brett, who with his brother Jacob had proposed the constructing of an Atlantic cable eleven years previously, with the object of forming a company for establishing and working electric telegraphic communication between Newfoundland and Ireland. The Atlantic Telegraph Company was duly registered in 1856, with a capital of £350,000, the great bulk of which was subscribed in England. The manufacture of the cable, begun early in the following year, was finished in June, and before the end of July it was stowed partly in the American ship " Niagara " and partly indecided to begin paying out in mid-ocean, the two vessels, after splicing together the ends of the cable they had on board, sailing away from each other in opposite directions. They left Plymouth on the loth of June, but owing to a terrific storm it was not till the 25th that they met at the rendezvous. A splice having been made they started on the 26th, but the cable broke almost immediately. Another splice was made, to be followed, after the " Agamemnon " had paid out about 4o m., by another break. Again the ships returned to the rendezvous and made another splice, and again there was a break after the " Agamemnon " had paid out 146 m., and then the " Agamemnon," after again returning to the meeting-place in the vain hope that the " Niagara " might have returned there also, made for Queens-town, where she found her consort had arrived nearly a week previously. Although a good deal of cable had been lost, enough remained to connect the British and American shores, and accordingly it was determined to make another attempt immediately. To this end the ships sailed from Queenstown on the 17th of July, and having spliced the cable in mid-ocean, started to pay it out on the 29th. The " Niagara " landed her end in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, on the 5th of August, while on the same day the " Agamemnon" landed hers at Valentia. The electrical condition of the cable was then excellent, but unfortunately the electrician in charge, Wildman Whitehouse, conceived the wrong idea that it should be worked by currents of high potential. For nearly a week futile attempts were made to send messages by his methods, and then a return was made to the weak currents and the mirror galvanometers of Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) which had been employed for testing purposes while the cable was being laid. In this way communication was established from both sides on the 16th of August, but it did not continue long, for the insulation had been ruined by Whitehouse's treatment, and after the 20th of October no signals could be got through. The next attempt at laying an Atlantic cable was made in 1865, the necessary capital being again raised in England. It was determined that the work should be done by a single ship, and accordingly the " Great Eastern " was chartered. She started from Valentia at the end of July, but fault after fault was discovered in the cable and the final misfortune was that on the 2nd of August, when nearly 1200 M. had been paid out, there was a break, and all the efforts made to pick up the lost portion proved unavailing. Next year the attempt was renewed. The Atlantic Telegraph Company was reconstituted as the Anglo-American Telegraph Company with a capital of £600,000 and sufficient cable was ordered not only to lay a line across the ocean but also to complete the 1865 cable. The " Great Eastern " was again employed, and leaving the south-west coast of Ireland on the 13th of July she reached Trinity Bay a fortnight later, without serious mishap. She then steamed eastwards again, and on the 13th of August made her first attempt to recover the lost cable. This, like many subsequent ones, was a failure, but finally she succeeded on the 2nd of September, and having made a splice completed the laying of the cable on the 8th of September. These two cables did not have a very long life, that of 1865 breaking down in 1877 and that of 1866 in 1872, but by the later of these dates four other cables had been laid across the Atlantic, including one from Brest to Duxbury, Mass. It was stated by Sir Charles Bright in 1887 that by that date 107,000 M. of submarine cable had been laid, while ten years later it was computed that 162,000 nautical miles of cable were in existence, representing a capital of £40,000,000, 75 per cent of which had been provided by the United Kingdom. Among the men of business it was undoubtedly Sir John Pender (1815–1896) who contributed most to the development of this colossal industry, and to his unfailing faith in their ultimate realization must be ascribed the completion of the first successful Atlantic cables. The submarine cables of the world now have a length exceeding 200,000 nautical miles, and most of them have been manufactured on the Thames. The monopoly conferred upon the Postmaster-General by the Telegraph Act 1869 was subsequently extended to telephony and wireless telegraphy, but it does not extend to submarine telegraphy. The submarine telegraphs are mainly controlled by companies, the amount of issued capital of the existing British telegraph companies (twenty-four in number) being £30,447,191, but a certain number of lines are in government hands. Thus on the 31st of March 1889 the undertaking of the Submarine Telegraph Company was purchased by the governments concerned. France and Great Britain jointly acquired the cables between Calais and Dover, Boulogne and Folkestone, Dieppe and Beachy Head, Havre and Beachy Head, Piron, near Coutances, and Vieux Chateaux (St Heliers, jersey). Belgium and Great Britain became joint-proprietors of the cables between Ramsgate and Ostend and Dover and De la Panne (near Furnes). The two cables to Holland and one of the cables to Germany were already the property of Great Britain, and the German Union Company's cable to Germany was purchased by the German government. The offices of the Submarine Company in London, Dover, Ramsgate, East Dean and Jersey were purchased by the Post Office, as well as the cable ship; and the staff, 370 in number, was taken over by the government. The capital amount laid out by Great Britain was £67,163, and on 1st April the new business was begun with a uniform rate to France, Germany, Holland and Belgium of 2d. a word, with a minimum of Tod. In 1890 Liverpool was placed in direct telegraphic communication with Hamburg and Havre, and London with Rome. The following year an additional cable was laid from Bacton, in Norfolk, to Borkum, in Germany, at the joint expense of the British and German governments. Direct telegraphic com-munication was thus afforded between London and Vienna. In 1893 a contract was made with the Eastern and South Africa Telegraph Company for the construction, laying and maintenance of a cable from Zanzibar to the Seychelles and Mauritius, a distance of 2210 m., for a subsidy of £28,000 a year for twenty years. In 1894 the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company laid a cable from Singapore to Labuan and Hong Kong, thus duplicating the route and making it an all-British line. The following year the rates to and from East and South Africa were reduced, by negotiation, from charges varying from 7s. 9d. to 8s. ltd. a word to 5s. 2d. or 5s. Government messages were accorded a rate of 2S. 6d., and Press telegrams one of from 1s. 5d. to 1s. 732'-d. a word. In 1896 it was arranged to lay two new cables to France and one (for duplex working) to Germany. On the 1st of February 1898 a new cable was laid between Bermuda and Jamaica (via Turks Islands), giving an all-British line to the West Indies, with reduced charges. In 190o direct telegraph working was established between London and Genoa, and a third cable was laid to South Africa via St Helena and Ascension. In 1896 a committee was appointed to consider the proposal for laying a telegraph cable between British North America and Australasia. The report of the committee, which is dated January 1897, was presented to parliament in April 1899, and dealt with the practicability of the project, the route, the cost and the revenue. The committee was of opinion that the cable should be owned and worked by the governments interested, and that the general direction should be in the hands of a manager in London under the control of a small board at which the associated governments should be represented. The English cable companies urged that state interference with private enterprise was neither justifiable nor necessary, as the rates could be reduced and an alternative cable route to Australia arranged on reasonable terms without it, and that the Cape route would be the best alternative route. The government policy would, they alleged, create an absolute and objectionable monopoly. In the correspondence (Blue Book, Ed. 46, 1900) between the Eastern Telegraph Company and the Colonial Office, the company pointed out that Mr Raikes, when Postmaster-General, had stated that " it would be without precedent for the English government itself to become interested in such a scheme in such a way as to constitute itself a competitor with existing commercial enterprises carried on by citizens of the British empire. There would be a very serious question raised, and it would probably extend to other forms of British enterprise." The company further pointed out that Mr L. Courtney (after-wards Lord Courtney), when Secretary of the Treasury, had stated that " it would be highly inexpedient to encourage upon light grounds competition against a company in the position of the Eastern Telegraph Company which has embarked much capital in existing lines "; and that the permanent officials representing the Post Office before the Pacific Cable committee had stated " that there was no precedent for the Imperial Government alone or in association with the Colonies managing or seeking business for a line of this kind." The reply of the Colonial Office contained the following statements of general policy:—" With the progressive development of society the tendency is to enlarge the functions and widen the sphere of action of the central government as well as of the local authorities, and to claim for them a more or less exclusive use of powers, and the performance of services where the desired result is difficult to attain through private enterprise, or where the result of entrusting such powers or services to private enterprise would be detrimental to the public interest, through their being in that event necessarily conducted primarily for the benefit of the undertakers rather than of the public. This tendency is specially manifested in cases where from the magnitude or other conditions of the enterprise the public is deprived of the important safeguard of unrestricted competition. . . . In the case of inland telegraphs and of cable communication with the continent of Europe government control has entirely superseded private companies. Closely analogous to the action of the state in the cases referred to is the action taken by municipal atithorities with the authority of the legislature in competing with or superseding private companies for the supply of electric light, gas, water, tramways and other public services. . . . The service which the government and the colonies desire is one which neither the Eastern Telegraph Company nor any other private enterprise is prepared to undertake on terms which can be considered in comparison with the terms upon which it can be provided by the associated governments." In November 1899 a committee was appointed by the Colonial Office for the further examination of the scheme, and towards the end of 1900 a tender was accepted for the manufacture and laying of a submarine cable between the Island of Vancouver and Queensland and New Zealand for the sum of £1,795,000, the work to be completed by the 31st of December 1902. A board was constituted to supervise the construction and working of the cable, composed of representatives of the several governments, with offices at Westminster. Under the Pacific Cable Act tool the capital sum of £2,000,000 was provided in the following proportions: United Kingdom, 5/18ths with 3 representatives including the chairman. Canada, 5/18ths with 2 representatives. Australia, 6/18ths with 2 representatives. New Zealand, 2/18ths with I representative. In these proportions the respective contributing governments are responsible for the losses made in the working of the under-taking. The annual expenses of the board include £35,000 for cable repairs and reserve and a fixed payment to the National Debt Commissioners of £77,544 as sinking fund to amortise capital expenditure in fifty years. The deficiency on the working for the year ended 31st March 1907 was £54,924, and the approximate number of messages transmitted during the year was 96,783 with 1,126,940 words. There was in addition a considerable inter-colonial traffic between Australia, New Zealand and the Fijis. Since the early days of international telegraphy, conferences of representatives of government telegraph departments and companies have been held from time to time (Paris 1865, Vienna 1868, Rome 1871 and 1878, St Petersburg 1895, London 1879, Berlin 1885, Paris 1891, Buda Pesth 1896, London 1903). In 1868 the International Bureau of Telegraphic Administrations was constituted at Berne, and a convention was formulated by which a central office was appointed to collect and publish information and generally to promote the interests of inter-national telegraphy. International service regulations have been drawn up which possess equal authority with the convention and constitute what may be regarded as the law relating to international telegraphy. The total lengths of the land lines of the telegraphs throughout the world in 1907 were 1,015,894 m. aerial, and 11,454 M. underground, and the total lengths of submarine cables of the world were 39,072 nautical miles under government administration and 194,751 nautical miles under the administration of private companies. ' BIBL1OGRAPxv.-Reports to the Postmaster-General upon proposals for transferring to the Post Office the Telegraphs throughout the United Kingdom (1868); Special Reports from Select Committee on the Electric Telegraphs Bills (1868, 1869); Report by Mr Scudamore on the reorganization of the Telegraph system of the United Kingdom (1871) ; Journ. Statistical Society (September 1872, March 1881) ; Report of a Committee appointed by the Treasury to investigate the causes of the increased cost of the Telegraphic Service, &c. (1875); Reports of the Postmaster-General for 1895, &c.; Journ. Inst. Flee. Fug. (November 1996); H. R. Meyer, The British State Telegraphs (London. 1907); The " Electrician " Electrical Trades Directory; E. Garcke, Manual of Electrical Undertakings. On submarine cables see also the- works of Sir Charles Bright's son, Mr Charles Bright, F.R.S.E., A.M.Inst.C.E., M.I.E.E.; e.g. his Life of his father (1898), his Address to London Chamber of Commerce on Imperial Telegraphic Communication " (1902), Lecture to Royal United Service Institution on " Submarine Telegraphy " (1907), Lectures to Royal Naval War College (1910) arid R.E. Military School (1908) on " Submarine Cable Laying and Repairing," and articles in Quarterly Review (April 1903) on ' Imperial Telegraphs," and in Edinburgh Review (April 1908) on " The International Radio-Telegraphic Convention." (E. GA.)
End of Article: COMMERCIAL ASPECTS
[back]
COMMERCE (Lat. commercium, from, cum, together, and...
[next]
COMMERCIAL COURT

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.