§ Sir JOHN DEWAR
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General a question of which I have given him private notice: Whether it is true as reported that the telegraph offices have been closed in the islands of Canna, Rum, and Eigg, on the West Coast of Scotland; if he is aware that this is regarded as a very serious matter in the interests of shipping generally, and the fishing industry in particular; if he is aware that only last year a vessel was wrecked off the island of Rum, and the successful salvage of the vessel was due to the telegraphic facilities available; further, if he is aware that besides depriving the inhabitants of the ordinary resources of civilisation the closing of the telegraph offices will in regard to two at least of the islands deprive the people of the most efficient means of communicating with the doctor?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
My hon. Friend has been misinformed, as instructions were sent some days ago to suspend the order for closing the telegraph office on the island of Canna. The case of the other two islands has for some time been under consideration, but no instructions have been given to close the telegraph offices. The telegraphic business of these islands is small, and the cost to the service is heavy. The total yearly revenue is about £100 and the cost is £550. The guarantee which has been asked for would be only for one-third of the deficiency each year, the remainder of the loss being borne by the Post Office. As many as 66 per cent. of the telegrams are sent to or 833 by the owners of the islands or their guests or employés, only 34 per cent. being sent by other persons on the islands. I am still negotiating. Meanwhile the service is being continued.