MR. CATHCART WASON
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if he can state whether the Highland Railway Company is liable to any penalty for delay in delivering mails at Wick and Thurso at the appointed time; if so, if he will warn the company that the penalties will be duly enforced; and, if there is no enforceable penalty, if he will ascertain on what terms the railway company would convey the mails with punctuality during the months of August and September.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (for Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON)
There is no penalty expressly provided in the mail contract with the Highland Railway Company for loss of time in running the mail trains to Wick and Thurso; but my right hon. friend believes that they make every effort to ensure the punctual performance of the service. As the hon. Member has already been informed, the company have great difficulty in maintaining punctuality on a railway with a single line of rails during the tourist season when the traffic is abnormally heavy, and it can hardly be expected that they could give a guarantee of absolute punctuality during August and September. My right hon. friend adds that the departure of the mail train from Perth is frequently delayed by the late arrival there of the connecting trains from the South, over most of which he has no control. He can assure the hon. Member that a careful watch is kept in his Department on the working of the mail trains, and that the attention of the company is always called to any unsatisfactory working.