asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will meet the unions and representatives of those employed in Giro, in order to discuss Giro's future role in the reorganisation of the Post Office.
Ministers in the Department of Industry have already had consultations with the unions concerned, including those in the National Girobank, about our proposals for the reorganisation of the Post Office. My right hon. Friend expects that further consultations will take place as appropriate.
Will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to visit Bootle and Giro to see for himself what is happening there to allay some of the fears and anxieties of the work force? That work force wish to know where they will be placed in the new reorganised Post Office corporation—whether with the telecommunications section or the Post Office section. They also wish to know whether the present status of a bank will be maintained and whether the privileges in legislation that were given in 1977—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Too long."] This is very important to the workers at Giro. They also want to know whether future expansion of Giro will take place on Merseyside.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have noted the invitation to visit Bootle. In September, we announced that the Post Office would be split into two corporations, one for telecommunications and one for post and Girobank. That position remains unchanged. Provided that Girobank continues to compete on equal terms with those offering equivalent facilities, there is no reason to doubt its future.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the substantial question about the desirability of loading Girobank into the Post Office with all the appalling consequences upon industrial relations which the Post Office will face? Is there not something to be said for the obvious solution of hiving off Girobank to the private sector?
I note what my hon. Friend says. At the present time, the relationship between Girobank and the Post Office is interlaced within the Post Office counter service facility.
Will the Minister look into the Government banking services and see if more efficient use can be made of Girobank by Government Departments? For instance, will he look at how often Government Departments put out their banking business to tender, with particular reference to the role of the Paymaster General's office? Will he see if some rationalisation could be of benefit both to Girobank and Government Departments?
I believe that I have heard the hon. Gentleman on this subject before. It is up to Girobank to compete on equal terms with others who provide similar facilities.