HC Deb 04 June 1907 vol 175 cc491-2
MR. MOORE (Armagh, N.)

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if there are. at present in the post office, Belfast,, thirteen post office assistants, originally in the service as telegraph messengers, who should have been dismissed at the age of sixteen, if it was not desired to continue them in the postal service; if these lads have service and unimpeachable records for from four to six years; if they are now aged from eighteen to twenty-one years, and, if dismissed, will have to search for new employment, out of which their continuance in the service after the age of sixteen has thrown them; what were the conditions under which they were so continued; and can he see his way, under all the circumstances of the case, to retain them in the postal service.


There are thirteen telegraph messengers at Belfast, aged from eighteen to twenty, who have been employed from four to six years, and most of whom have a good record. Their employment was continued after the age of sixteen in the hope that it would be possible to appoint them as established postmen within a reasonable time. Unfortunately, the prospect of finding them established appointments is still remote; and it is considered best in their own interests that they should procure outside employment. They have for some time been employed as substitute postmen; and their employment in this capacity will be temporarily continued. It is clearly understood, however, that they will not thereby acquire any claim to established positions. It may be possible to appoint a few of them assistant postmen in the near future.


May we take it that the boys will not be dismissed immediately?


They are not exactly dismissed. They are simply told it is better for their own prospects to obtain outside employment.


asked if it was not a fact that a considerable number of these boys were dismissed from the service about this age, because a preference was given to ex-military and naval men.


The House knows that an agreement was entered into years ago by which a certain percentage of vacancies was sot apart for ex-soldiers and naval men. We do not propose to extend that system, or indeed to interfere with it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of giving some technical training to these boys so that they may become skilled servants as sorters or telegraphists?


The right hon. Gentleman was not present I think when I spoke on the Post Office Estimates. We have given the utmost consideration to the question. We have the very greatest sympathy for the boys who have to find other work because we cannot employ them.