HC Deb 04 August 1891 vol 356 cc1251-2
DR. McDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

I beg to ask the Postmaster General, with reference to the letter from the General Post Office, dated 30th December, 1889, to the Commissioners of Stornoway, which stated that the Strome-Stornoway mail steamer went to Portree for shelter only, and that the owner, Mr. Macbrayne, promised that Under no circumstances, unless compelled by storm to do so, would the steamer be diverted from her course, whether this promise has been adhered to; whether the steamer now running, the Clydesdale, is 29 years old; whether the average time of the journey is now eight to nine hours instead of six as promised; whether the Government will adhere to the promise to put this mail route up to public competition, and when will the tenders be called for; whether it was only on three occasions during the whole of the last fishing season that the mail steamer did not get an inside quay berth in Stornoway; and whether she has always had priority for such a berth over all ether steamers, when possible?

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

By an arrangement concluded in the spring of this year the contractor for the Strome Ferry and Stornoway Mail Packet is allowed, in the event of accident—storm, or other like circumstance of special and exceptional character preventing the despatch in due course of the Strome Ferry Portree steamer—to divert the former steamer from the direct course so as to admit of its touching at certain ports in Skye. I am not aware of any case in which, without permission obtained, this privilege has been improperly exercised. I have no exact information as to the age of the Clydesdale. I think the hon. Member is misinformed as to the average duration of the voyage of the Clydesdale, and that it is about two hours less than he conjectures. A careful Return shall, however, be prepared, which I shall be glad to show to him when completed. It is intended to put the Stornoway Service with other services up to competition, and that not later than the spring of next year—perhaps earlier. I cannot answer the fifth and sixth questions of the hon. Member's without inquiry in various quarters; but I will make that inquiry, and acquaint him with the result.

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