HC Deb 23 July 1897 vol 51 cc985-8

6. £560,147, to complete the sum for Post Office Packet Service.


moved to reduce the Vote by £100 in order to elicit some information from the Financial Secretary with regard to a particular item in the Vote.


said he did not think the hon. Member need trouble himself very much because as he knew, with regard to the steamer communication on the West Coast of Scotland, to which the sum mentioned referred, they bad promised to refer the subject to a Committee for the purpose of seeing how far it was possible to increase the Postal facilities in the islands of the West of Scotland. He had no doubt whatever that the result of the Committee would be largely to increase those postal facilities in accordance with the promise made by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Two or three years ago an experiment was made to see how far the steamer communication on the West Coast of Scotland increased trade, and also the number of letters and newspapers and things of that kind sent by post. No improvement took place with regard to trade, and that in itself would have been a very fair reason for cutting down the amount of subsidies for steamer communication. But they had felt that with what was being done for the rest of the country with regard to postal facilities, they ought to treat these islands on the same basis, and there was very little doubt that hardly any reduction would take place in the vote, that they should reach the old level of £10,000. He did not know that exactly the same route would be taken, but on the whole he thought the result would be that the amount of steamer communication would be practically the same as hitherto.

Amendment, in leave, withdrawn.

Vote agreed to.

7. Motion made and Question proposed— That a sum not exceeding £2,177,925 (including an additional sum of £28,800 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1898, for the salaries and working expenses of the Post Office Telegraph Service.


complained that the Highlands were not being treated fairly in regard to telegraph extensions. The sum to be spent for this service was £18,000; £2,000 less than was taken last year. He hoped that the whole sum granted would be expended this year, and that half of it would not be returned to the Treasury as was the case in 1896–97.

CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

also complained of the inadequate provision of telegraph offices in parts of Scotland and to mark his discontent moved to reduce the vote by £100. The fact that there were not enough telegraph offices caused great inconvenience, and people's lives were thereby sometimes jeopardised. In England and Ireland no guarantees were demanded by the Post Office, but in Scotland guarantees in respect to telegraph offices were abstracted from the inhabitants. He contended that Scotland ought to be treated as generously as Ireland was in this matter. Another matter was the unfair way in which these guarantees were required to be made up. The guarantees were required to be made good whether there were profits to the Post Office or not. He thought the Post Office should extend greater generosity to the districts to which he referred. He begged to move the reduction of the vote by £100.


hoped the House would not think it necessary to take a division on this. The same treatment was extended to the whole country. Exactly the same principle was applied, and if anything Scotland was better off than other parts of the Kingdom. In the Highlands telegraphic extensions were taking place at the cost of the taxpayer without any guarantees.


One a year.


Yes, one a year against none in other parts of the Kingdom. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] In some sparsely populated districts it was difficult to give telegraphic communication, but the Government had gone a long way by reducing a guarantee 50 per cent. and after seven years would bear the whole cost whether it paid or not.


said he was under the impression that the only Votes to be taken were the Army Notes. A good many Irish Members had gone home on that understanding, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would not proceed.


said he was sure that the hon. Gentleman would do him the justice to believe that he only wanted to carry out the arrangement that had been come to. That arrangement was that the Army Votes should be taken with the exception of the Supplementary Vote, and three Revenue Votes. He thought that arrangement was made with the full knowledge of hon. Members from Ireland. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would understand the explanation he had given.


admitted that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly satisfactory, but he would like to know whether this Vote was included in the Votes that were to be taken. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Yes!"] Then he would withdraw his opposition. ["Hear, hear!"]

Question proposed, "That Item C (Maintenance of Postal Telegraph System), be reduced by £100.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.