asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what steps have been taken to restore telephone communication to the Orkneys; and what is the present position.
My hon. Friend no doubt refers to the hurricane which occurred on 14th and 15th January. Within a day groups of Post Office engineers with repair stores were flown to the Orkneys, and other staff and heavier equipment were sent out by ship. Repair work, in very bad weather conditions, went on continuously and I am glad to say that service was restored to all the Islands by 21st January and all subscribers' damaged lines were repaired by 4th February.I should like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the ready help received from local air and shipping organisations. Considering that some 60 exchanges were isolated and 2,000 subscribers' lines were affected, I feel sure the House will agree that this achievement reflects great credit on all who assisted in the work.
Is the Minister aware that the action of the Post Office has caused great satisfaction? Can he add to that assurance that their development work is not being held up?
I cannot yet give that assurance. The repair work that had to be done as a result of this hurricane is bound to affect to some extent development work in Scotland this year, but I cannot yet state the extent to which such work will be affected.