HC Deb 24 April 1928 vol 216 cc782-4

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received resolutions from the parish council of Tiree and from public meetings at Cornaigmore, Scarinish and Baleinartine, Tiree, regarding the inadequacy of the steamer service proposed in the new mail contract for the exposed and dangerous route to Time, Coll and Barra; and whether he proposes to take the necessary steps to ensure a more safe and commodious service than can be supplied either by the "Cygnet" or the "Plover"?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, by the contract which is before the House the contractors have undertaken to provide a new boat for this service within five years provided it is the intention of both parties to continue the contract at the expiry of that period. As soon as a new boat is built to take the place of the "Plover" in accordance with the contract, the latter will replace the "Cygnet," and that will undoubtedly be an improvement. I do not know on what the hon. Member bases the suggestion that either of these boats is unsafe.


Has the right hon. Gentleman also received resolutions from a large number of meetings in South Uist protesting against the present service, and protesting against the entrance into the new contract; and is he not aware that is is the opinion of all these people that the handing over of the Highlands and Islands to this steamboat company, will result in the destruction of the Highlands?


Are these people to understand that they will have to wait five years for an improved service until a new boat is built?

Sir J. GILMOUR indicated dissent.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an opportunity of debating this matter?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that, in pre-war times, there was a three-days-a-week steamer direct service from Oban to the Skye ports, which service is now discontinued; that passengers for the thickly-populated crofting district of Glendale now reach Portree from Kyle or Mallaig at 6 p.m and require to hire motor transport for 32 miles; and whether, before signing the new agreement for a subsidised service, he will make provision for adequate transport arrangements between the mainland and the West of Skye?


I am aware that direct services by mail-boats from Oban to certain ports on the West of Skye are no longer provided. These ports, however, have regular calls from cargo boats. Glendale is linked with the mainland (via Portree or Kyleakin) by road transport, which in modern conditions is rapidly developing. I learn that a daily motor-omnibus service between Glendale and Portree is about to be instituted. I see no reason to differ from the conclusion reached when post-war facilities were investigated that, having regard to the traffic, there is no justification for the provision of another regular steamer service to the Skye ports.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say if there will be an early opportunity of discussing the proposed arrangement with the MacBrayne Steamship Company?


That is a matter which is not in my hands. No doubt there will be an opportunity.