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Promotions To Head Postmasterships

Volume 181: debated on Tuesday 20 August 1907

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To ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that it was represented to the Parliamentary Committee on post-office servants, by means of a printed chart as well as by departmental witnesses, that head postmasters have the right to look for promotion to the large postmasterships with salaries up to £775, including the postmasterships of Sheffield and Hull, he will explain why the vacant postmasterships at Sheffield and Hull have just been filled by the appointment of officers from the Secretary's Office, London, and the Surveying Department, respectively.

To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that the officer appointed postmaster of Sheffield has been considered unfit for promotion in his own Department, and has been passed over on several occasions by the promotion of junior officers of his own class, and that the officer appointed postmaster of Hull was second in the list of assistant surveyors, first-class, and therefore likely to have been promoted within a short time, if deserving, to a surveyorship carrying a salary of £600 by £25 to £900, he will say whether there are any head postmasters amongst the 877 members of that class who are in every respect well qualified for, and entitled to, promotion to such offices as those at Sheffield and Hull.

To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that dissatisfaction prevails throughout the ranks of the head postmasters in consequence of the manner in which their claims have been dealt with in the matter of promotions and of the fact that a much larger proportion of postmasterships carrying salaries of £400 and upwards have been filled by the promotion of officers other than postmasters since the present Postmaster- General has been in office than was formerly the case; whether it is proposed to compensate head postmasters for the decrease in their prospects of promotion caused by these appointments of officers from other branches by promoting head postmasters to better positions in the Surveying Department, the Secretary's Office, and other departments of the postal service; and what steps the Postmaster-General will take to allay the feeling existing amongst those public servants. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I will answer these three Questions together. It is not, and never has been, the case that promotion to the larger postmasterships is exclusively reserved for postmasters, nor was it so stated to the Select Committee. Postmasterships are staff appointments for which all officers of the post office are equally eligible and can make application, and postmasters have no exclusive claim to all or any particular proportion of them. There has been no change in practice in regard to the matter since I have been Postmaster-General. As regards the officers recently appointed postmasters of Sheffield and Hull they were, in my judgment, taking everything into account, the best qualified of the candidates who presented themselves. I need hardly say that before arriving at this conclusion I examined carefully the qualifications of all the postmasters who made application for these posts. The hon. Member may not be aware that the postmastership of Cardiff, which is of equal value with that of Sheffield, was filled at the same time by the promotion of a postmaster.