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Postal Services

Volume 76: debated on Monday 1 April 1985

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3.40 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the possible disruption of postal services following the collapse of talks on new working methods and the proposed recruitment of part-time postmen."
I understand that a question may arise in connection with the sub judice rule. I will deal with that aspect straight away as it is relevant and I can deal with it briefly. This morning, a High Court judge granted an injunction to the Post Office banning industrial action without a ballot—

Order. I wish to save the hon. Gentleman time. I do not think that the sub judice question arises, so perhaps he will go on to make his application — bearing in mind that the House has a guillotine motion to discuss.

I entirely agree with you, Mr. Speaker. The sub judice does not apply, so I shall not put that argument.

I fully appreciate the criteria for acceptance of an application of this kind. I understand that I have to persuade you, Mr. Speaker, that the matter is so urgent and important that it should take priority over other business already arranged. That is indeed the situation.

Sir Ronald Dearing, in an arrogant, high-handed and autocratic manner, has made it clear that he intends without consultation to introduce new machinery at Mount Pleasant post office today, well knowing the opposition of the trade union involved. The union has acted very reasonably and has agreed to discuss the matter, but it strongly opposes the principle of recruiting a huge number of part-time postmen with consequent redundancies among existing staff.

Like Mr. MacGregor of the National Coal Board and other chairmen of nationalised and previously nationalised industries acting at the behest of the Prime Minister and the Government, Sir Ronald Dearing has said that he intends to take on the unions and to impose changes whether the workers like it or not. That is the provocative and partisan language used by the chairman of the Post Office. The result will be that within a few hours industrial action may take place at one of the most important post offices in this country, paralysing the postal services. I respectfully submit that that is a matter of great importance and should be discussed by the House very soon indeed as it has far-reaching consequences. As a result of the developments that I have described, there is a strong possibility that all postal services will be paralysed.

This is the first application of this kind that I have made in 10 years as a Member of Parliament and it is not made frivolously, to fly a kite or to make party political points. This is a matter of public importance and I respectfully suggest that the House should discuss it today.

The hon. Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Ryman) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the possible disruption of postal services following the collapse of talks on new working methods and the proposed recruitment of part-time postmen."
As the hon. Gentleman said, the only decision that I have to take is whether the matter should take precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I listened carefully to what he said, but I do not consider that the matter is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.