HC Deb 15 April 1889 vol 335 cc479-80

asked the Postmaster General what was the actual number of telegraphists at the Central Telegraph Office who are placed on 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. duty for the current week; whether from the time of their arrival at 2 p.m. till the time of their departure at 10 p.m. they were engaged in telegraphic operations, and are allowed no time for refreshment; what would be the cost, if any, of granting these clerks a reasonable time for refreshment; whether the Controller (Mr. Fischer) stated to a deputation that he was willing to grant a dinner time to those clerks who resided at a distance from the office; whether, having regard to the severe physical and mental strain to which the nature of their occupation subjects them, he would grant the relief asked for?

*THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES,) University of Cambridge

In reply to the questions of the hon. Member I have to state:—1 That the number of telegraphists at the Central Telegraph Office, whose hours of duty during the current week are from 2 to 10 p.m., is 26. 2. That these officers are supplied with tea and bread and butter at 5 o'clock, and that they have facilities given them for procuring supper before they leave at 10 p.m. 3. That the cost of granting to these 26 telegraphists half an hour each for refreshments would represent 13 hours of overtime, which would be difficult to provide for at this time of day; nor indeed can I think it unreasonable to expect that officers who do not come on duty before 2 o'clock in the day should have dined before they come. 4. And yet it was, as suggested in the hon. Member's question, explained by the Controller to a deputation of telegraphists who waited upon him, that if any hardship should be found to arise in the case of anyone residing at a distance from the office, the circumstances would, if represented, be fully considered. In no case, however, has any such representation been received. 5. The duty is not, either in its nature or the duration of the hours, such as appears to me to constitute any undue strain upon the faculties of those who discharge it; and yet, if any instance to the contrary be brought to my notice, I shall be prepared to see whether a remedy cannot be applied. 6. Whether, in reply to a question put at some time or other in the course of last year, the Controller did, or did not, speak of the dinner hour as a privilege, is a matter upon which I am unable to give any information.