HC Deb 20 February 1908 vol 184 cc1044-5
MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)

With regard to the business for to-day, I do not know if the Postmaster-General remembers but it may be in the recollection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman promised that the Supplementary Estimates should not be taken until the changes which he proposed to make as a result of the Report of the Select Committee on the conditions of service and pay in the Post Office had been published and time given for their consideration. I find that the Paper is not to be obtained at the Vote Office, although I understand copies have been given to some few selected Members—those I believe who served on the Committee. I am not making complaint of that, but in view of the fact that the Paper is not available for the general body of Members. I wish to know whether, under the circumstances, it is intended to proceed with this Estimate?


The Post Office circular has, it is true, only been given to the members of the Committee, but I thought as a matter of courtesy they should receive it. I certainly had no idea that it should be printed as a Parliamentary Paper, and I do not think that that has ever been done before. It was issued some days ago, and is an ordinary official publication, but not the publication I had in my mind when I spoke on this point before. I hope under the circumstances the right hon. Gentleman will not object to our proceeding with the Estimate to-night.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that previous revisions have been followed by laying a Paper on the Table of the House for the information of Members, giving a full account of the changes sanctioned and the immediate and ultimate cost? Still, I will not press the matter if the right hon. Gentleman says it would be inconvenient to postpone the Estimate, although we have had no such Paper in this case.


Perhaps, I may be allowed to express my regret at the delay in publishing the revision. There has been great pressure at the Post Office in connection with it. But I will certainly give the House all the information it desires, although I do not really think that the publication of the Post Office circular with all its very minute details was necessary.