HC Deb 13 April 1891 vol 352 cc362-5
MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is now in a position to make any statement as to the intentions of the Government with regard to public works in the crofter districts of the West of Scotland?


The following statement shows what has already been done with regard to the recommendations of the Commission:—I. Steamer Communication.—Arrangements have been made for the following new or improved services from May 1 next:—(a) A larger and more powerful vessel will be placed on the Strome Ferry and Stornoway route, which is expected to perform the voyage regularly in six hours. (b) A daily service from Oban to Castle Bay and Lochmaddy, calling at certain ports in Skye and elsewhere. (c) A daily service round the Island of Mull, calling at Coll and Tiree four days a week. (d) A service from Portree to Dunvegan and Lochmaddy three times a week, calling at intermediate places and returning on alternate days. These services will involve an expenditure of nearly £7,000 a year in addition to the existing payments for the conveyance of mails. Negotiations are also in progress with a view to obtaining an improvement of the service between Shetland and the mainland. II. Piers and Harbours.— (a) A grant of £16,500 to the Harbour Trustees at Ness, in the Island of Lewis, has been sanctioned for the completion of the existing works and the construction of a new breakwater which will afford additional protection to the entrance of the harbour. (b) A grant of £2,000 has been sanctioned for the construction of a pier at Carloway, in the same island, provided that an efficient Local Authority can be constituted which will undertake to construct and maintain the work. (c) A grant of £8,000 towards the cost of erecting a pier and breakwater at Gott Bay, in the Island of Tiree. The total cost is estimated at .£11,500, and the grant is to be made subject to the condition that some Local Authority or other responsible party-will construct and maintain the works and provide the remainder of the cost. (d) Subject to similar conditions, grants have also been sanctioned for the following purposes:—£3,500 for a pier and breakwater at Talmin Bay, on the coast of Sutherland, estimated to cost £5,000; £4,000 for a steamboat pier at Uig, in Skye, estimated to cost £5,500; £3,000 for a boat harbour at Skerray, on the coast of Sutherland; £3,000 for a boat harbour at Portskerra, in the same neighbourhood; £3,000 for the improvement and extension of the existing works at Scrabster. With regard to the smaller piers and boatslips referred to in the Report of the Commission, the Government are prepared to provide the requisite funds within the limit and on the terms recommended by the Commission; and legislation is being prepared to empower the 'several County Councils or other Local Authorities to undertake the necessary liabilities. The Government have also under consideration the question of a grant to afford relief to the Trustees of Lerwick Harbour, in Shetland, and for the construction of piers in Orkney. III. Lighthouses and Beacons.—Grants amounting in all to £4,500 have been sanctioned for the erection of lighthouses and beacons, provided that arrangements can be made locally for their maintenance when erected. IV. Telegraphic Extension.—The Postmaster General has been authorised to erect telegraph lines from Stornoway to Carloway, in the Island of Lewis; from Durness to Scourie, and from Lochinver to Drumbeg, on the mainland; from Dunvegan to Glendale and Waternish, and from Isle Ornsay to Ardvasar, in Skye; to Westray, in Orkney; and to Whalsay and Bressay, in Shetland. The cost of the erection of these extensions will be about £6,600, and the work will be proceeded with at once. V. Roads and Railways.—A grant of £15,000 has been sanctioned for the improvement of the existing road between Stornoway and Carloway, so as to enable fish and other traffic to pass over it with greater despatch. When this improvement is completed the road will have no gradient steeper than 1 in 30. Negotiations for the construction, maintenance, and working of one or other of the railways mentioned in the first Report have been for some time in progress, but are not yet complete; but I anticipate I shall be in a position to inform the House of the decision of the Government on Thursday.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

May I ask from what source these large sums are to come, and whether, as money seems to be plentiful, the right hon. Gentleman will consider the propriety of giving a little grant to the fishermen in Cornwall, who have suffered considerably during the winter?


The hon. Member will see that I have not stated to the House any proposals for assisting fishermen beyond providing piers and harbours.


We have been asking for the provision of harbours of refuge for the safety and profit of fishermen on the coast and the crews of vessels coming up Channel for a great many years. The right hon. Member for Birmingham knows that some years ago a deputation waited upon him upon this subject.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

Will there be an Estimate laid upon the Table of this House in the course of the year?


The Supplementary Estimates relating to the matter will be submitted to Parliament this Session.

MR. A. SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)

Will Sutherland be in the same condition in regard to grants as other parts of Scotland? I understand that two localities in the Highlands have obtained grants on the condition that the money advanced shall be in the proportion of two-thirds of the guarantee, whereas other localities are only to have grants in the proportion of one-third of the guarantee.


I cannot enter into a discussion in regard to other places than those which I have already mentioned, but it is quite within the power of the hon. Gentleman to raise any discussion he may desire. As regards Sutherland, I have no doubt that any assistance actually required will be forthcoming.


Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to bring in any Supplementary Estimates this Session? There can be very little doubt that the money has been hitherto voted foolishly and thrown away.


As I have said, an Estimate will be presented to Parliament in the course of the present year.