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New Post Office Sites

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1952

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7.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many sites, in addition to those already acquired, he has requested the Ministry of Works to obtain for the erection of post offices.

8.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many sites the Post Office at present possesses for the erection of Crown and branch offices; what is the estimated capital cost of the post offices it is proposed to erect on them; and the estimated annual cost of the maintenance and administration of such offices.

One hundred and twenty-two sites. The capital cost of the buildings to be erected on them will amount to about £6 million—spread over many years. The cost of maintenance and administration cannot yet be estimated, but my hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that we shall pay careful regard to these costs before embarking on each scheme.

Is the Minister satisfied that this expansion of the system of Crown offices is really justified at present? Can the work not be left in the good hands of the sub-post offices, who do a good job in spite of not being awfully well remunerated?

That point is very carefully in our minds at present, but the Question which my hon. and gallant Friend asked was the number of sites that have been acquired. Some of those included in the figures I have given him were acquired before the war. I ask him to note the assurance I have given that we are not proceeding with these at present, except in so far as they have been started.

Is it a fact that the accommodation provided at a large number of these sub-offices is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the public and is certainly inadequate to meet the normal and reasonable standard of welfare required by the staff employed by the Post Office?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. One of the things we should very much like to do now is to improve the standard of comfort in all post offices, many of which are out of date and were built many years ago.

Will the Assistant Postmaster-General take note of the emphasis I am placing on it in contradistinction to the emphasis being placed by the hon. and gallant Member?

Would it not be fairer to the sub-postmasters for them to be given greater remuneration and support so that they would be able to provide better facilities?

I do not think that a controversy as between Crown offices and sub-post offices really enters into this question.