29. Dr. MURRAY
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that, even when there was a daily service between Stornoway and the mainland, numerous complaints as to the insufficiency and inefficiency of the service were made by public bodies and by representatives of the trading and travelling public; that now, since the services have been reduced by one-half, there is a real danger of the necessaries of life being short during the winter, as well as the business and trade of the port and island being seriously hampered; whether he is aware that, owing to the invariably crowded state of the mail boat, travelling by this service, which is a night service, is always uncomfortable and often dangerous; whether he is aware that over 200 women returning from the English fishing were held up recently at Kyle for two days with little food or shelter; and 987 whether he will induce the Highland Railway Company to exercise their powers to maintain an efficient daily service between Kyle and Stornoway, or in any other way to take steps to restore a daily and efficient service?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Baldwin)
I have been asked to answer this question. While I regret that it is not possible to restore the prewar mail-boat service to Stornoway, I am advised that the present service, coupled with other steamer facilities, is adequate both for the supply of food and for necessary trade purposes. The regrettable incident referred to in the latter part of the question was, I believe, the result of the women missing the mail-boat connection by about two hours. It is, of course, impossible to guarantee that a small steamer is not at times rather crowded when the traffic is subject to great variations of this kind, but I do not gather that this is a normal state of affairs. So far as I am aware, the Highland Railway Company have no powers to maintain the present service from Kyle, but in any case they would not be likely to undertake it, still less to increase it, without a subsidy from the State.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Transport Committee appointed by the Government when the War was going on reported that even when there was a daily service between Lewis and the mainland it was inadequate, and recommended an extra steamer?