Mr. T. F. RICHARDS
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the sub-post office at Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton, has been removed from a very convenient spot to a part less convenient for the inhabitants of the district; whether he is aware that this office has for 21 years been solely used for postal purposes, and that at the present time it is being conducted by a sub-postmaster with no previous experience, and who has commenced a stationery and newspaper business in competition with one struggling tradesman whose takings have been reduced during the two months that this subsidised business has been in operation by no less a sum than £2 per week; whether he is aware that the town council has expressed disapproval of reducing this office from one devoted solely to postal affairs to one connected with a business; whether he will consider the desirability of consulting such bodies before such changes are made; whether he can either raise the salary of the present sub-postmaster in order that he may live without trading, or whether he is prepared to pay adequate compensation to the tradesman already mentioned; and whether he is prepared to take any action in the matter?
§ Mr. BUXTON
The facts in regard to Chapel Ash are as follows:—It was represented to the Post Office by the town council and others that the existing sub-post office at Chapel Ash was inconvenient both in regard to situation and accommo- 568 dation. On the resignation of the sub-postmistress, therefore, it was thought advisable to seek better premises. Under Treasury Regulation the amount of business transacted at Chapel Ash only enables a small salary to be paid for a salaried sub-office; and under such an arrangement the accommodation which the town council and others appeared to desire could not be provided. It was thought better, therefore, to turn the office into a commission sub-office, and thus to obtain for the public facilities and conveniences greater than those that could be provided under the other system. The usual advertisement was inserted, but none of the shopkeepers whose premises are in a suitable position came forward as candidates for the post. The premises of the tradesmen to whom the hon. Member refers were not thought to be sufficiently central, or to meet the needs of the neighbourhood. Another offer which was received appeared to provide adequate accommodation in what is believed to be the best situation, and the offer was therefore accepted. The sub-postmaster who has been appointed, and his wife also, are acquainted with the business of a sub-office, and were thought to be unusually desirable candidates. I am informed that the business which will be carried by the new sub-postmaster is not thought likely to interfere to any appreciable extent with any existing business. I may add that the Parliamentary Committee fixed £250 as in the ordinary course, the total emolument which would justify the institution of a salaried office. The remuneration at Chapel Ash is considerably below that figure.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Is not the right hon. Gentleman's action in this case in complete contradiction to the recommendation of the Committee, that these offices should be gradually placed under a direct salaried office?
§ Mr. BUXTON
No, my hon. Friend is mistaken in that. The recommendation of the Committee was that all offices of a certain size should be placed under salaried officers. They did not suggest that smaller ones should be.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the application was sent in from the very place where this sub-post office used to be 21 years ago? Is he also aware that the person now appointed—