§ MR. T. BLAKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
asked the Postmaster General, Whether it is true that by the present Regulations of the Service all Head Postmasterships in England and Wales with a salary of £120 a-year and upwards, and all in Scotland and Ireland with a salary of £100 a-year and upwards, are filled by the promotion of deserving Post Office officials; whether these Regulations do afford the Department over which he presides frequent opportunities of rewarding meritorious servants, and also secure the efficiency of the Service by the appointment of well qualified persons to fill vacancies; whether the opportunity for advancement afforded by these appointments has created a healthy stimulus amongst, and is greatly valued by, the Post Office servants; whether this system has been in operation for over 25 years and been found to work well; and, whether it is true, as reported in the public Press, that he now proposes to change these Regulations; and, if so, to what extent, in what direction, and with what object will the alteration be made?
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)
I am indebted to the hon. Member for an opportunity of answering in this House Questions respecting which very unwarrantable misrepresentations have recently been current elsewhere. My 872 answer to the first Question is in the affirmative. The three following Questions relate rather to matters of opinion than to matters of fact. I may, however, perhaps, be permitted to say that, as regards the more important and responsible of these posts, I entirely concur with the views indicated by the hon. Member. As regards the minor appointments, I consider them less as rewards for meritorious service, or a stimulus to greater exertion, than as a means of providing for those officers who, having no ambition to rise to higher and more arduous functions in the Department, are content to drop into humbler posts of comparative independence. I do not deny that the system may have worked satisfactorily upon the whole; though I am disposed to believe that it would have worked better if rather a higher limit of salary had been fixed at which a postmaster is precluded from increasing his income by other occupations. I have made no such proposal as is suggested by the last Question; and I may add that, during my tenure of Office, while I have accepted the transfer of several of these appointments from the Treasury to the Post Office, I have not transferred any from the Post Office to the Treasury.