§ 76. Mr. MacKENZIE LIVINGSTONE
asked the Postmaster-General whether the recent revision by him of the mails contract between Messrs. McBrayne and the Post Office in connection with the Western Isles service has resulted in any improvement or acceleration; is he satisfied that there is no further room for improvement in these services; and has he considered any suggestions other than those submitted in previous correspondence?
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Hartshorn)
It has been possible to secure several improvements in connection with the new contract for the service to the Western Highlands, as compared with the arrangements which had been in force since the War. I should not like to say that there is no further room for improvement, but such improvement would involve further expenditure, which is not practicable at present. Suggestions from many quarters have been received, and they have all been carefully considered.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is the Postmaster-General aware of the fact that it takes a letter 10 days to come from the Isle of Lewis to London and to get a reply.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is the age of the steamship "Sheila" which plies between the Kyle of Lochalsh and Stornoway, and will he say whether that old, 2247 broken drown craft, three quarters of century old, still carries His Majesty's mails?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask not only the Postmaster-General but the Deputy Leader of the House whether the boats that are used for carrying these mails are practically condemned as unsatisfactory, and that adjoining this area, in the Clyde area, there are idle workmen, and would it not be much better to put these useful men on to building new ships and giving a better service of mails?
§ Mr. LIVINGSTONE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he hopes to implement the promise he made to me months ago to do all he could to improve this service in every possible way?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the pledge was given in this House that the contract to this particular firm would not be renewed until such time as the improvements were carried out, and will he give a pledge now that this contract will not again be renewed until these improvements have been effected?
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
This contract was negotiated and concluded before I came into office. It does not terminate or is not capable of termination until six months after October, 1925. In reply to the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Livingstone), I can only say that since I gave that promise I have had several improvements effected in this area.
§ Mr. LIVINGSTONE
Will the right hon. Gentleman say now that he will give a promise that no further contract for these mails shall be given until this boat is improved, or a new boat built?
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether the Government will take into consideration the question of the Post Office running a fleet of steamships on its own volition and using them for other purposes?