HC Deb 05 February 1947 vol 432 cc1747-8
11. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the total profit made by the Post Office during 1946, including the telephone and telegraph services, separately.

Mr. Burke

The latest available accounts are those for the financial year 1945–46. These are approximate and un audited accounts which are prepared for Departmental use during the period of suspension of publication of the Post Office Commercial Accounts. They show a surplus of income over expenditure—after charging interest on capital—of £36,191,000 for the Post Office as a whole. This total is divisible as follows:

Postal Service (Surplus) 15,545,000
Telegraph Service (Deficit) 38,000
Telephone Service (Surplus) 20,684,000
Net Surplus 36,191,000

Sir T. Moore

In answer to Question No. 9, the Minister said that it would cost £1 million to reduce the postage rate on postcards from twopence to one penny. Now he has announced that the postal service made £15 million profit last year. Surely we must assume that some of these immense profits will be passed on to the public by a reduction in postal and telegraph rates?

Mr. Burke

The finances of the Post Office cannot be dissociated from the national finances. These rates have been increased because of the increases in postal tariffs which were put on in the abnormal period of the war, and that abnormal period has not yet passed away.

Mr. Grimston

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that during the war these charges were largely put on as a deterrent? Surely now that peace is arrived we do not need deterrent charges?

Mr. Burke

They were also put on to raise revenue.

Mr. Jennings

Is not the hon. Gentleman in a position to have a word with the Chancellor about using these abnormal profits to reduce taxation?

Mr. Burke

I am in a position to have a word with him, and I very often agree with him.