HC Deb 26 October 1908 vol 194 cc1617-9
SIR JOHN TUKE (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has taken further steps towards bringing about the inclusion of the discharged members of the construction staff of the National Telephone Company in the permanent staff of the Post Office.

The following Questions on the same subject were answered at the same time:—

MR. CHIOZZA MONEY (Paddington, N.)

To ask the Postmaster-General if the National Telephone Company, Limited, in order to keep down new capital expenditure, have largely reduced their canvassing staff, and are even neglecting new business sent to them; and, if so, whether he can see his way, by making a suitable agreement with the Company, to prevent the further contraction of business and discharge of employees.


To ask the Postmaster-General if he will state precisely how many of the discharged employees of the National Telephone Company, Limited, he has taken into the employ of the Post Office telegraph or telephone services.

MR. H. C. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)

To ask the Postmaster-General if he will guarantee to take over any member of the staff of the National Telephone Company, Limited, who is paid off on account of the work being reduced in consequence of the company being taken over by his Department in 1911.


To ask the Postmaster-General if he will make such arrangements with the National Telephone Company, Limited, as shall enable the Company to carry on the laying down of new plant and replacement work regardless of the transfer of the business of the company to his Department in 1911, so that the present staff of the company shall not suffer by being discharged and the public not be incommoded by the telephone service being hindered in its normal state of development.


To ask the Postmaster-General whether, having regard to the number of persons, other than employees of the National Telephone Company, who are thrown out of employment or will lose their employment by the dismissals, actual and announced, of the employees of the company, he will arrange with the National Telephone Company to suspend all dismissals and notices of dismissals pending the negotiations he has announced as being in course between his Department and that company.


As I have already stated in this House, applications for employment in the Post Office from men discharged by the National Telephone Company are being met so far as work can be found, and 105 have been so engaged during the last six months. I cannot, of course, give a general undertaking to employ any men who may be discharged by the company for the reason stated, nor can I control the action of the company in this respect. I understand that the company have not reduced their canvassing staff to any large extent, and they assure me that they are prepared to meet all applications for new lines under ordinary conditions, and have not refused such applications. I understand, indeed, from the company that the discharges which have so far taken place, apart from those due to misconduct or incompetence, or to the termination of temporary employment or employment for certain special purposes, have been mainly caused by an exceptional falling off in orders obtained from the public, consequent on the recent depression of business throughout the United Kingdom. Arrangements between the Post Office and the company are under consideration which will, I hope, enable such works of construction as may be required for the service after 1911 to be continued uninterruptedly.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the statement he had just made was not borne out by the fact that men were being discharged by the National Telephone Company, thus adding to the great army of unemployed in London.


said he must accept the assurance of the National Telephone Company.

MR. WATT (Glasgow, College)

Is it not the fact that they have dismissed their canvassers, and are not now canvassing for business?


said he understood they had not reduced their canvassing staff to any large extent and that the falling off in orders was due to the falling off in business.


Then why is it necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to make special arrangements with the company?


said that in the next three years it might be hardly to the interest of the company to extend their system. He hoped to be able to come to an arrangement with them, so that together they might be able to carry on necessary construction work uninterruptedly.