DR. M'DONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether it is his intention to ask for public tenders for the conveyance of mails by sea in connection with the increased and improved postal facilities in the North and West of Scotland, which have been lately promised by the Government; and, if not, why not; whether he is aware that, in the Report of the West Highlands and Islands Commission, it has been strongly recommended that existing routes should not be interfered with prejudicially by subsidised steamers; and does he intend to act on this recommendation?
§ COLONEL MALCOLM (Argyllshire)
I also beg to ask the Postmaster General whether, in making the arrangements for the improved postal service in the West Highlands and Islands he has kept in view Clause 51, under the heading (b) steamers, of the Report of the Commission, together with the instruction of the Secretary for Scotland to the said Commission; and whether, in consideration of these statements, he will take care that the contracts be submitted to public tender?
§ MR. RAIKES
In reply to these questions, I have to say that the recommendations of the Highlands Commission have not been lost sight of. Her Majesty's Government, being desirous of offering at once .at least some of the increased postal facilities recommended by the Commission, have made temporary arrangements with the present contractor for new and improved services 906 as an experiment. When sufficient experience has been acquired of the actual needs of the districts in question, the services will be thrown open to public competition in the usual way. No other course could have been followed without delaying the improvements until next year.