§ 76. Mr. FELL
asked the Postmaster-General if he can arrange in villages and country towns where deliveries have been curtailed and the sorting of letters delayed to utilise the services of local ladies or 2258 committees to help generally, and in any case to carry out the sorting of the mail so that persons calling for their letters may obtain them without the payment of the charge of 3d. for a special sorting?
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. J. A. Pease)
Persons residing in rural districts can obtain without charge any letters arriving by a mail in connection with which there is no delivery. In town districts it is necessary to charge a fee in view of the work involved, and I am afraid the need for the fee could not be removed by the expedient suggested by the hon.Member.
§ Mr. FELL
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see his way to employ ladies in this work? I am sure they would be very glad to help.
§ Mr. PEASE
It is one of the main objects of the curtailment of delivery to save money in economies. That end would be frustrated if I adopted the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ 77. Mr. HINDS
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that in some towns, owing to the suspension of the forenoon delivery of letters in consequence of the shortage of labour caused by the War, correspondence lies at the local post office all day, to the hindrance of business, and that the old peace-time regulation on page 45 of the Post Office Guide which compels merchants and others to wait until nearly evening or pay a search fee of 3d. before their letters can be handed to them over the counter is still enforced to the detriment of trade; and will he say what action he proposes to take to remove this. grievance?
§ Mr. PEASE
The suspension of certain postal deliveries and the readjustment of others is mainly due to the fact that 77,800 Post Office servants are already serving in the forces or have attested under the group system, and this has inevitably given rise to a certain amount of inconvenience. It has been thought expedient in the curtailment of deliveries to save expenditure. Considerable discretion has been placed in the hands of the local officers as to reductions and the times of the substituted deliveries. It is not accurate to suggest that correspondence lies at the local post offices all day to the-hindrance of business. Whilst the conditions vary considerably, yet, speaking generally, I can assert that if letters arrive after the morning deliveries they are 2259 delivered in all the cities and towns of the country during the course of the afternoon. Waiving the search fee would result in an increased number of callers and entail increased expenditure, and the object of saving expenditure by the readjustment of deliveries would be thereby defeated.
§ Mr. LOUGH
Can the right hon. Gentleman say the number of employés from which these 77,000 have been recruited?