§ Sir JOHN DEWAR
asked the Postmaster-General if the carriage of the mails from Fort William to Fort Augustus has lately been taken from the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway Company and handed over to a motor-car service at a considerably higher rate; if he is aware that the service given by the motorcar is very much inferior to that rendered by the railway company, and has caused great dissatisfaction in the district; and that the mails were on five occasions in February from one hour to three hours and five minutes late at Fort Augustus; and if he will, under these circumstances, revert to the conveyance of the mails by train as formerly?
§ The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The Post Office was compelled to arrange for the conveyance of these mails by a road motor service as from the 1st ultimo, at greater cost to the taxpayer, owing to the railway company having given notice that the line would be closed at the end of January. The decision of the Directors to keep the railway open for the present was only arrived at on the 26th January, too late to admit of the arrangements for the motor service being cancelled. As I have already intimated to the hon. Member and to the local committee who have approached me on the subject, I am quite willing to give favourable consideration to the question of again using the railway for the conveyance of mails, if the company can guarantee a reliable service for an adequate period. The delays to which the Hon. Member refers were due either to accidents or to the impassable condition 829 of part of the road caused by excessive rainfall, but I am assured that the motorcar proprietors are doing their best to maintain an efficient service.
§ Sir J. DEWAR
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the roads in this district are quite unsuitable for mail carts, and that for many weeks in winter they are closed?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I know the roads are difficult, and I would much prefer to send the mails by rail. We did not withdraw the contract from the railway company, but the railway company gave us notice that they were about to close the line. If the railway company will give an assurance to keep the line open for some reasonable period I should be happy to renew the contract with them.