asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number of staff of his Department who, during the last three months, have become redundant and been dismissed; the number of those so dismissed who were within six months of completing seven years' service; and the amount of gratuity they would have received if they had been allowed to complete seven years' service.
As a result of the policy of regionalisation pursued by successive Postmasters-General, the statistics asked for by the hon. Member are maintained locally and not at headquarters. To obtain them specially would entail disproportionate work and expense. The gratuity payable to temporary staff who have served for seven years or more is based on one week's pay for each completed year of service.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of these people suffer from a sense of real grievance, that a number of them are widows who are in their 50th year and that the Postmaster-General has decided to dismiss them within weeks of their completing their seventh year of service? Would the hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter to alleviate the grievance which these people feel, and will he consider granting them a gratuity proportionate to their service?
I can assure the hon. Member that no one has been dismissed within a matter of weeks of completing seven years' service, but if the hon. Member cares to send in particulars of any case, I shall be glad to look into it.
Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say he cannot supply information because it involves sending about eight or nine letters to eight or nine regional controllers? Is that an adequate reason for not disclosing the facts?
It is not a question of eight or nine letters to controllers—or rather to regional directors, if I may correct the right hon. Gentleman—it is a question of applying to head postmasters, and that would require a large number of letters.
Terrington Committee's Report
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he has yet received the written observations upon the Terrington Committee Report; and if he can now make a statement as to his intentions.
My noble Friend has received the written comments of some, but by no means all, of the interested staff organisations. He is obviously, therefore, not yet in a position to make any statement.
When considering this matter, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the proper test of a free association of people who choose to join together in a union should be their own wishes and not the administrative convenience of the employers?
That is a fact which will be considered when a decision is finally made.
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will apply the same postal regulations to Cyprus as to Malta, to enable letters to be carried by air for 2½d.
I wish that this could be done but it would involve the Post Office in an estimated loss of £65,000 a year. I would, however, point out that the lightweight Forces letter can be sent to Cyprus for 2½d.
Will my hon. Friend bear this in mind as conditions improve, with a hope that we might get back to the Empire airmail scheme of flat rate which operated before the war?
Certainly, but I can hold out no hope that anything will be done in the immediate future.
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will accept letters, carrying a 1½d. stamp and posted before 1 p.m., for second delivery next day.
No, Sir. Apart from the practical difficulties involved, the resultant loss of revenue would be prohibitive.
Is the Minister aware that his noble Friend came to Glasgow three weeks ago and asked us to post our letters early in order to ease the peak problem? In view of the fact that he rejects my incentive, what other alternative has he to propose?
The excellent advice given by my noble Friend has nothing whatever to do with the point which the hon. Member raised.
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will, in order to economise in paper, consider issuing for inland post a form of letter without envelope as is used for airmail.
Letter cards which do not require envelopes, as well as stamped postcards, are already available for use in the inland post.
Is the Assistant Postmaster-General aware that the airmail form has much more writing space than the existing letter card?
I am aware of that fact.
Then why not do what I ask?
Armed Forces (Free Services)
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the estimated value of free services given to the Army, Navy and Air Forces for 1951–52.
The estimated value of services rendered without payment to the Army, Navy and Air Force during 1951–52 is £9,216,000, made up as follows:
In view of the repeated protestations of hon. Members opposite with regard to this practice, does not the hon. Member's noble Friend propose to alter the present procedure?
That is under review at the present moment.
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what are the estimated financial results for 1951–52 for the printed paper airmail group; and what additional income is expected from the proposed increases.
It is estimated that second-class airmail services (i.e., printed papers, etc.) will show a deficit for the year 1951–52 of £215,000. The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 from the proposed increase in charges is £220,000.
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what limit has been placed on manpower in his Department for the following grades, namely, junior postmen, postmen and postmen, higher grade.
No separate grade limits have been fixed, but present policy is to keep the total number of postal staff as close as possible to the level of those in post on 1st October last.
In view of the availability of manpower in many areas where the postal services are not as efficient as they should be because of the shortage of labour in the service, cannot the hon. Gentleman approach his noble Friend with a view to altering the reply which he has given?
I think my reply covers the point which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. While it is hoped to keep the total number the same as at 1st October, that does not prevent an increase in those areas where there has been a particular shortage of staff during the past few years.
Capital Investment Allocation
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the amount of capital investment for the year 1952–53 allocated to his Department.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) which applies equally to the Post Office.
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that his reply means that there will be a growing list of people waiting for telephones?
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what curtailment has been made, or is planned, in the building programme of his Department.
We shall not be able to start in 1952–53 any of the new buildings originally programmed for that year—except defence works.
Can the hon. Gentleman give any idea of the number of people who will now have to wait longer for telephones as a result of the reply which he has given?
If the hon. Gentleman puts down that Question, I will endeavour to give him an answer, but it is not covered by the original Question.