HC Deb 05 February 1947 vol 432 cc1748-9
13. Mr. Grimston

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if Messrs. Macnamara were invited to submit a tender for a fresh contract before the decision was taken to dispense with their services.

Mr. Burke

No, Sir. The discussions with the contractors made it clear that they would be prepared to tender only for a period of years which was not acceptable to my noble Friend.

Mr. Grimston

Is it not obvious from this answer and others which the hon. Gentleman has given in relation to this contract that he has been at no great pains to enter into the economic side of the question, and that the decision on this matter, like so many other decisions by this Government on economic matters, has been taken on political grounds?

Mr. Burke

No, Sir, this matter has been discussed time and time again at the Post Office. It has been the long established custom of the Post Office to undertake their own road services, except in London. It has been done in the provinces, especially in Manchester, and what Manchester does today London will do tomorrow.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

As there must be a number of Members who are ignorant of the activities of this firm of Messrs. Macnamara, may we know what they do and what they are?

Mr. W. R. Williams

Is it not a fact that several decisions in connection with provincial services were made by a Tory Administration in the past?

15. Mr. Joynson-Hicks

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number and the grades of additional civil servants who will be employed by the Post Office upon, and in consequence of, the termination of Macnamara's contract for the carriage of His Majesty's mails.

Mr. Burke

No part of this contract is to be taken over until 1st July, 1948, and from then on transfer will be in stages up to 30th September, 1949. Numerous adjustments will have to be made as the transfer proceeds, and many of the existing contractual services will be absorbed by existing Post Office personnel. The question of providing staff is, however, still under consideration, and it is, therefore, quite impracticable, at this stage, to attempt to forecast the ultimate numbers and grades of additional civil servants who will be employed.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

How can the hon. Gentleman compare the expense of running the service by the Post Office with the contract price obtained from Messrs. Macnamara?

Mr. Burke

Every time a new contract was made we got out an estimate and we found, on comparing our estimates with the tenders, that we were entitled to a considerable reduction.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Surely these estimates must disclose the labour cost to the Department?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Will the hon. Gentleman be prepared to publish these estimates in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Mr. Awbery

Has any provision been made by the Post Office to absorb the men thrown out of employment as the result of taking over this contract from Messrs. Macnamara?

Mr. Burke

All these questions about taking over staff will have to be considered when the contract has fallen through.