§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Invernessshire)
I beg to ask the Postmaster General what is the amount of postal subsidy granted to Mr. M'Brayne for conveying the mails by steamer to and from Strome Ferry and Stornoway; whether he is aware that, from the inefficiency of the steamer employed the connection with the railway to Strome Ferry is frequently lost and delays arise in reaching Stornoway, and that these delays have sometimes occurred from the steamer diverging from the direct route and proceeding to Portree to take up goods and passengers; and, whether, in these circumstances, if there be no fixed period of contract, he will consider the expediency of publicly inviting tenders for a direct and exclusive service between Strome Ferry and Stornoway?
§ * MR. RAIKES
The contract payment for the conveyance of the mails by steamer to and from Strome Ferry and Stornoway is £2,250 a year. I find, upon inquiry, that during the year ended the 27th ultimo the steamer lost the day mail train on 18 occasions. On nearly all of these occasions the failure was attributable to storm, and, having regard to the exposed nature of the passage, and to the fact that the service is performed at night, the explanation is, I think, sufficient. Mr. M'Brayne is a most competent contractor, and I do not see that any advantage to the Public Service would arise from terminating the present contract and publicly inviting tenders as the hon. Member suggests.
§ MR. CALDWELL
With reference to that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has considered the sufficiency of the vessel?
§ * MR. RAIKES
Representations as to the nature of the particular vessel have been made to the Post Office, and we think there is no reason to complain.