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Postal Sorting Offices

Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many postal sorting offices in the United Kingdom have been equipped with modem sorting machinery.

As this is a matter falling within the Post Office's field of responsibility, the hon. Member should write to it on this subject.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he able to tell me why many of these very expensive machines which have been installed in post offices up and down the country are not being used? I understand that there is a very large installation in London which has been lying idle for many years.

I thought that that was precisely what I was saying. If the hon. Member has any specific instances, he should contact the Post Office.

In view of the anticipated profit that the Post Office expects to make during the next period, will my hon. Friend consider discussing with the Post Office the possibility of keeping down future increases in postal charges?

Much as I admire my hon. Friend's ingenuity, that is a different question.

Is the Minister aware that such answers are not acceptable to the House of Commons? Is he aware that we simply cannot get answers to Questions about the Post Office from a Minister? It would be better to go back to the days of the Postmaster-General. Although it is true that it is necessary for the Post Office to make a profit, does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is now grossly profiteering at the expense of the consumer, particularly on telephones?

Order. I said "Good" because I welcomed the fact that the Minister indicated that the supplementary question was not related to the original Question, and it really applies to what the hon. Gentleman was asking.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have found with both Questions for Written Answer and Questions for Oral Answer to the Department of Industry that it is almost impossible to get any answer to any Question on the economy of the Post Office. The people are concerned to know whether the Post Office is making—

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will raise the matter at the end of Question Time.