HC Deb 02 March 1926 vol 192 cc1224-5

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the amount of the subsidies paid for the current year to Messrs. McCallum, Messrs. Martin Orme and Company, and Messrs. MacBrayne; how much has been paid during the last five years to each of them; and whether any supervision or control is exercised over these firms as to the charges for passengers and freight or as to ports of call or frequency or infrequency of steamers, or whether they are entirely unrestricted except in so far as the Postmaster-General considers requisite for postal facilities?


I am informed that the payments for the current year are £500 jointly to Messrs. McCallum and Messrs. Martin Orme and Company, and £36,000 to Messrs. MacBrayne. During the last five years the two companies first mentioned and Messrs. MacBrayne have been paid £2,500 and £232,000, respectively. The agreements with the Postmaster-General bind the companies to make calls at specified ports at fixed times and intervals and Messrs. MacBrayne are required generally to maintain efficiently such passenger and cargo services as were in operation in 1923. The firms in question are not required by the terms of their agreements with the Government to submit for approval their rates of freights and fares.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not see that one result of giving a grant to private firms, without any restraint over their charges, is to combine all the vices of Government monopoly with all the vices of private enterprise, without any of the restraints which prevail in the adoption of either? It is a blend of both and it makes a bad blend.


That is a matter for debate.


It is a very serious matter.


I should like an answer to my supplementary question.