Mr. CATHCART WASON
asked the Postmaster-General if he can state how many post and telegraph offices have been closed, or have been proposed to be closed, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland during the last six months; and if he will suspend further closures until there is some opportunity for people to get a living off the land?
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
In only one case is it proposed to close a post office, at Hamar, Lerwick. This office was opened when telegraph business was extended to the locality under guarantee. Only about three telegrams a week are received and 875 an equal number delivered from this office, and as the guarantors are unwilling to continue the guarantee, it is proposed to close the office. It could be retained, however, for postal purposes if a small guarantee were forthcoming, and I will communicate with the hon. Member as to this. In eight other cases the discontinuance of telegraph business, but not of postal business, has been under consideration. In one of these a renewed guarantee has been given and telegraph facilities will be continued. In the remainder no definite reply has yet been received from the guarantors. On the average, at each of these offices, about one telegram a day is despatched and one a day is delivered. The annual expenditure of a considerable sum of public money is not warranted in maintaining a telegraph service in these localities, unless some evidence at least of utility is furnished by the persons most benefited being willing to make good one-third of the deficiency. Even then, a substantial loss would still remain.