HC Deb 10 August 1888 vol 330 cc312-3
DR. R. M'DONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

asked the Postmaster General, If any progress is being made in the negotiations with the Highland Railway as to the carriage of mails in the North, and at what stage they have now arrived; if it is a fact that a letter, posted at 3 p.m. in Invergordon for Dingwall, 12 miles distant, with several trains passing to and from each place daily, does not arrive at the latter place till 11 a.m. next day; is it the case that letters posted North of Invergordon are carried past there to Inverness, and are returned thence from Inverness and delivered next day about 2 p.m.; if all letters from Golspie to Inverness, 66 miles, are carried on to Inverness, sorted there, and returned Northwards again, causing a delay of about a day in the delivery of letters in the intervening districts; is it a fact that the Highland Railway Company demand £5,000 per annum more for the postal work than they used to get; if the matter has been referred to arbitration; and, at what time negotiations were entered into to have the matter settled before June 30, when the contract expired?

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)

It is understood to be the intention of the Highland Railway Company to refer to arbitration the question of the remuneration for the conveyance of the mails on the Highland Railway. The facts as regards Invergordon are stated by the hon. Member with substantial accuracy. Some portion of the correspondence from the North, however, is delivered, not the next day, but the same day. Letters from Golspie to Inverness are certainly carried on to Inverness; but this is an arrangement which I presume must be satisfactory to all concerned. If the hon. Member, however, refers to letters from Golspie to places between Golspie and Inverness—such as Dornoch, Tain, Dingwall, and so on—I have to state that they are sent in direct bags, and delivered the same day. It is a fact that the Highland Railway Company demand for a renewal of the contract £5,000 a-year, in addition to the high payment previously received. I have considered it my duty to resist this demand, and leave the Company to their remedy. Various communications respecting the renewal of the contract passed between the Railway Company and the Post Office prior to June 30, the earliest being in February last. The arbitration will probably take place in October next.