HC Deb 23 February 1866 vol 181 cc961-2

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he thinks the Postmaster General came to a just and wise decision in refusing the application which the letter-carriers made for an advance in their wages in consequence of the rise in house-rent and in the price of provisions; and, whether these same considerations have not induced the magistrates of many counties to raise the salaries of the police?


said, that in answer to his hon. Friend, he had to state that the decision to which he referred was, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) believed, a decision of the Postmaster General never brought before the Treasury until it came under its notice in consequence of the Question of his hon. Friend; and it was a decision not upon the case of the whole of the letter-carriers of the Post Office, as, perhaps, the question might lead hon. Members to suppose, but upon an application from a considerable number of the country letter-carriers. He mentioned this because it was important to bear in mind, in considering the decision of the Postmaster General, that his noble Friend did some years ago consider very fully and readjust the salaries in the great metropolitan department. In looking into the question to which his hon. Friend referred, the Postmaster General examined very carefully what was the alteration in the position of the letter-carriers in consequence of any rise in house-rents or in the price of particular provisions, and likewise—a matter which his hon. Friend's Question did not take notice of—of any fall in the price of particular provisions—due either to the legislation of that House or to some other cause. His noble Friend (Lord Stanley of Alderley) also had regard to another very important question—namely, what was the application all over the country for the situation of letter-carrier, and the degree of disposition shown by perfectly competent persons to undertake it. Examining the whole of that matter, and finding that there was no diminution in the number or in the quality of persons who were found desirous of obtaining the situation of letter-carrier, and likewise looking carefully into the questions of house-rent and provisions, he came to the conclusion that there was no sufficient ground for acceding to that application, and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) confessed that his impression was that the decision was a wise one. With respect to the latter part of the Question, he had no information on the subject to which it referred; but he thought it very probable that what was there stated might be so. There were departments of the public service in which salaries had been raised, and that within no long time back. There might be others in which the same question was at present undergoing consideration; but he did not think that the course taken by magistrates with reference to the salaries in this or that particular county of the police, who were a recent institution, would afford any conclusive evidence with regard to the course which the Government ought to take in respect of the wages of letter-carriers.