asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that his refusal to see a deputation of Post Office employés, following on the reply forwarded through the Postmaster-General to the National Joint Committee of Postal and Telegraph Associations that no Parliamentary inquiry into their grievances could take place till 1913, is resented as calculated to place an unfair strain on the loyalty of public servants; that mass meetings of Post Office 1572 employés held in different parts of the United Kingdom have condemned the reply of the Cabinet as a deliberate attempt to evade dealing with admitted grievances, such as casual and auxiliary labour, boy labour, excessive overtime, reduction of status of work, etc., and also at the same mass meetings the leaders of the men have had to combat resolutions favouring unconstitutional methods; and whether, in view of the growing indignation and the possible danger and inconvenience to public business, the Committee of inquiry can be appointed forthwith to sit concurrently with the Board of Trade inquiry into cost of living?
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the question, may I ask if his attention has been called to a series of questions which have been addressed to the Postmaster-General on points relating to the inequality in postal rates of wages?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
It is no part of the business of the Prime Minister, and would be, in my opinion, a bad precedent to receive deputations of the employés of a particular Government Department in regard to their conditions of service. The proper course is to apply to the Department concerned. I am aware that the associations of Post Office employés desire that an inquiry into their conditions of employment by a Select Committee of this House should be held at once. As the hon. Member is aware, an exhaustive inquiry by Select Committee was held so recently as the years 1906 and 1907, and the recommendations then made took effect on the 1st January, 1908. It is only the recent increase in the cost of living which could justify a further inquiry being held. However, in view of all the circumstances, the Government will give further and not unsympathetic consideration to the question whether the date of the inquiry cannot be somewhat accelerated.