HC Deb 13 May 1897 vol 49 cc372-3

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that postmen have been forbidden by the authorities of the General Post Office to ask for Christmas boxes, without any compensation being given to them for the loss thereby entailed; and, whether it is the case that Christmas boxes have hitherto always been officially recognised as part of the wages of postmen?


I am of course aware that postmen have been forbidden in future to ask for Christmas boxes, and that their witnesses complained strongly before the Tweedmouth Committee, of the indignity which asking for Christmas boxes imposed upon them. I am also aware that in the provinces it has hitherto been forbidden to ask for them by printed card or letter, and that the London and provincial postmen are now for the first time brought under the same regulations. The Committee did not anticipate that to forbid solicitation would lead to any considerable diminution in the amount of Christmas boxes received from the public, and it is a fact that, although parcel postmen have always been forbidden to solicit Christmas boxes, they nevertheless receive them, although no old custom of giving to them could exist in their case as it does in that of the letter postmen. When the hon. Member speaks of compensation he is, perhaps, not aware that the Christmas boxes are by no means equally distributed among even the letter postmen, and that, while the juniors receive little or nothing on some walks, the seniors receive very much more than their share. Any system of compensation would in any case therefore be very difficult to carry out. But with the advantages given by the recommendations of the Committee, which have been accepted wholesale by the Treasury, the postmen, so far from losing, gain considerably. It is not the fact that Christmas boxes have been officially recognised as part of the wages of postmen.