§ 73. Mr. PIRIE
asked the Secretary for Scotland if he is aware that 1,197 miles of underground telegraphic lines have been laid down in England as against only 133 miles in Scotland, whereas owing to the much greater frequency of storms in Scotland this proportion should be, to a large extent, reversed; and whether, in view of the hesitation of the Postmaster-General to deal effectively with this injustice, he can state what steps he is prepared to take to safeguard Scottish interests?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
The first part of the question asking for postal statistics should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General. As to the rest of the question, my hon. and gallant Friend is inviting me to offer a public criticism of my right hon. Friend's management of his Department, and I must respectfully decline that invitation. It would be contrary to practice that a Minister should make such a statement as is suggested about his communications with any of his colleagues relating to matters which are entirely within his colleague's province.
§ 79. Mr. PIRIE
asked the total mileage of the main line of underground telegraph lines from Penzance to Gretna viâ London, and also of all the other lines or spurs to it in England; will he state the length of line required had the line been constructed from Carlisle to Newcastle-on-Tyne; and will he state why a subsidiary line serving Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, and Durham should be considered of prior importance to completing the main north and south line to Dundee and Aberdeen, especially as storms are more frequent in the latter case, not losing sight of the fact that telegraphic communication with the Orkneys and Shetlands passes through Aberdeen?
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The total length of the main underground line from Penzance to London and from London to Gretna is 634 miles, and the total length of the other lines and spurs of the main underground telegraph system in England is 563 miles. The distance as the crow flies from Carlisle to Newcastle is about fifty-five miles, but the length of an underground line between those places could not be stated without a survey of the route. The number of telegrams dealt with at the places served by the branch underground line referred to in the latter part of the question is several times greater than the number dealt with at Dundee and Aberdeen. The provision of an underground line on this route was also necessary because of the congestion of the overhead wires on all the main roads. A similar condition does not exist in the districts around Dundee and Aberdeen.
§ 81. Mr. PIRIE
asked the Postmaster-General whether, if a telegraphic message is handed in at Aberdeen for Dingwall, that message is not sent direct, but is despatched to Edinburgh and from thence to Dingwall; whether a telegraphic message from Arbroath or Montrose to Dundee reaches its destination viâEdinburgh; is it the case that the proposed extension of underground telegraph lines to Aberdeen and Dundee would materially injure the continuance of this policy; if so, is that policy due to the desire to maintain the volume of work at the Edinburgh post office in view of safeguarding the pecuniary position and prospects of the headquarters Pout Office officials in 987 Edinburgh; and would he give the respective mileages by the direct routes in both cases and by the indirect ones?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Telegrams for Dingwall, Arbroath, or Montrose from places in the neighbourhood are sent direct, but the number does not warrant direct communication with places at considerable distances. Traffic from such places has to be collected at the best centre for distribution, which in the cases quoted is Edinburgh. This practice would be unaffected by an extension of the underground system to Aberdeen and Dundee. When a small number of telegrams between any two places have to be dealt with, it is more economical to circulate them by longer indirect routes than to provide direct circuits which would be idle for most of the day, and the best route in such cases depends only to a limited extent upon the mileage of the alternative routes. I need hardly say that personal considerations are not taken into account as suggested by the hon. Member.