HC Deb 02 January 1913 vol 46 cc523-4
55. Mr. DUKE

asked the Postmaster-General whether for about twenty-five years arrangements have existed in the post office at Exeter for enabling employés whose conditions of labour require their presence in the office at meal times, to take their meals upon the premises, and that the refreshment club formed for this purpose now numbers about 320 members, is managed by a committee of its members, costs no more to the Department than about 30s. weekly for necessary labour, and works to the advantage of the service and with entire satisfaction to the postal employés concerned; whether a like system is under consideration for some of the telephone offices lately taken over; whether he has decided to cancel the existing arrangements at Exeter, to withdraw the assistance now given by the Department, to substitute for the present elected committee a committee with a majority of members nominated by the Department, and to introduce an increased tariff of charges which will involve additional cost for food of 1s. or 1s. 6d. weekly to employés, many of whom earn less than 25s. per week; whether he is aware that the proposed changes are regarded with dissatisfaction by the members of the club; and whether the present arrangements will be allowed to continue?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

The arrangements which existed at Exeter and at some of the National Telephone Company's exchanges differed from those which are the rule in the Post Office Service generally and which have worked quite satisfactorily. It has been decided to terminate these exceptional arrangements. At Exeter, in place of the present allowances for cooks an initial grant will be allowed for the purchase of plant with an annual subsidy for its upkeep on the scale authorised for such clubs. The amount of the grant and the annual subsidy which would be payable under the authorised scale would depend on the daily average number of meals served. The question whether any increases in the tariff would be necessary, would be one for the committee to consider. The committee would, as is usual in such cases, be partly nominated by myself.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the financial result of the proposed new scheme is a saving of about £70 a year to the Treasury, and that the practical result will be the production of a state of dissatisfaction among 300 or 400 working people?


I am not prepared to accept the hon. and learned Member's figures without investigation, but hitherto Exeter has been in a privileged position compared with the other post offices of the country, and it is thought necessary to bring it into line with the rest.