HC Deb 19 April 1951 vol 486 cc2085-139

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £121,431,000, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952, for the salaries and expenses of the Post Office, including telegraphs and telephones and a grant in aid.—[Mr. Bowden.]—[£58 million has been voted on account.]

7.28 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

I desire to raise on this Vote the subject of the increased charges for postal services which were announced to the House by the Postmaster-General on 4th April last. Of these charges, those relating to the telegraphs, he told us, required legislation because they exceed the maximum laid down in the Telegraph Act. As this is Supply, it will not be in order to discuss the telegraph charges on this occasion; but there is plenty of material in the Post Office, and in the postal and telephone charges, to fill out the few hours that remain to us.

The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion prefaced his statement by saying that he thought it would surprise the House. This anticipation proved to be well founded. I think everybody on both sides of the Chamber was not only surprised but very dismayed to hear that he found it necessary to make those additional charges at this time. We have all got so used to thinking of the Post Office as a Department which year by year makes a useful contribution in aid of the taxpayer, and also as a Department which by the services, nowadays unpaid for, it renders to Government Departments does something which, in the end, relieves taxation. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his little curtain-raiser to the Budget—if I may so call it—it gave us all a somewhat dismal foretaste of what was to come in the main drama. Far from relieving general taxation, the right hon. Gentleman this year, by this announcement, proposes to increase the burden to the general public by some £8 million a year.

It is to me very strange that the Postmaster-General should have been chosen for this preliminary raid into the pockets of the public. So far as my recollection serves, in the past changes in the postal charges of this order have invariably been announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as part of his revenue proposals. Certainly I remember that, when I became Postmaster-General in 1940 and the price of the ordinary letter was raised from 1½d. to 2½d., the announcement was made by Sir John Simon, as he then was, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and not by myself; and it was defended by him on the only ground upon which it could be defended, namely, that the additional revenue was necessary in time of war to buttress the finances of the nation.

I remember that in 1949, Sir Stafford Cripps—and when I mention that right hon. Gentleman's name perhaps I may be permitted to say how we in this Committee have received with regret the news of his continued illness and fervently wish him a speedy and complete recovery—when there were changes upwards in postal charges, announced them, and not the Postmaster-General. I remember that the right hon. Gentleman who is now Minister of Local Government and Planning, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1945, answering a question as to postal charges with the well used formula "I cannot anticipate my Budget statement." So it is, I think, the invariable custom that if this great revenue Department, the Post Office, increases its charges, that is a revenue matter and a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to decide and to announce against the background of taxation for the year. It is not merely a departmental matter for the Post Office.

The Post Office Act of 1908 does, as I remember, give to the Treasury, not to the Postmaster-General, power to make certain slight extra charges on inland parcels; but charges of this order amounting to £8 million a year, have invariably been Budget matters. Indeed, if one looks at it, this £8 million a year is more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer hopes to get by the alterations he is making in the controversial field of Entertainments Duty. A tax as important and as heavy as that ought to have been in the Budget.

I speak on this matter with a little knowledge and also, the Committee will believe me, with a great affection for the Post Office. I was privileged to be at its head during the worst phase of the aerial bombardment of this country and I always remember with profound gratitude the loyalty and service of the men and women in the Post Office during that time of trial. That is why I harp on what I consider to be the unfair load placed upon the right hon. Gentleman in justifying charges which, to be understood, must be seen against the general financial burden of the country; to be understood and appreciated it must be presented in the framework of a Budget, and I think it is a little constitutionally indecent that the right hon. Gentleman should have been pushed forward to make this preliminary announcement of what is taxation.

But since the right hon. Gentleman, I suppose in all loyalty to his colleagues, in the statement which he made on 4th April, adhered to the rôle of being first over the top and said that these charges have nothing to do with taxation, I must deal with the matter on that footing, although I believe it to be the wrong footing and not the reality of the situation at all. I must, to meet the right hon. Gentleman, deal with this as though the Post Office were isolated from the general taxation system of the country and were nothing more than a large trading monopoly, and as if these charges were necessitated by ordinary trading vicissitudes.

Taking it on that footing—though I believe it to be an unreal one—the justification the right hon. Gentleman put forward was that his commercial surplus for 1951–52 would, in his own words, fall to a very small figure. I find it difficult to reconcile this statement with the Estimate presented to this Committee in February, before there was any word of these additional charges, which puts the surplus on the Post Office at £8,389,000, which I should have considered was quite a handsome surplus for these days.

I want to ask this larger question on policy in the times through which we are passing: Why should not the right hon. Gentleman take the risk of his commercial surplus being a small one? If that is the worst he is afraid of, it seems to me that he is in a happier position than most of the traders in the country at the present time. He cannot go bankrupt; he is indeed a revenue Department; he pays into the Exchequer what he receives and he draws on the Exchequer for what he needs. If he can show a surplus on the deal—a surplus, say, of £8 million, as is included in the printed Estimates—he has nothing to fear. Even if, through unforeseen rises in costs, there is a small loss, why, the Post Office has contributed enough to the Exchequer in the past to be able to face such a small calamity with complete composure.

It seems to me to be an odd thing that at a time when everyone is urged to exist on as small a surplus as possible, when, indeed, many people have no surplus at all, when we are being urged to keep down costs, the Post Office should not be content with the common lot of the citizens of this country. The Post Office feel that they must play for safety by ensuring a surplus which is not very small. It almost looks as if the right hon. Gentleman is joining with some zest in what is often described from platforms frequented by hon. Gentlemen opposite as "the mad scramble after profits."

I conclude this point by saying that I think that it is a thoroughly bad example to set to the trading community at the present time. This practice of the Government in raising its charges to show a surplus which is not small is quite out of tune with what other trading concerns in the country are urged to do by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to cut their costs and to do with as little surplus of revenue over expenditure as they can possibly contrive to manage with.

Passing to the increases themselves, I think that all of them are objectionable. They are not the first increases made in recent times. They come on top of enormous increases made in recent years. The one which I think will inflict the most damage on our trading community is the increase proposed in the inland printed paper rate. This is the last vestige of the penny postage. Succeeding Postmasters-General have clung to it, not only for historical reasons but because of its great utility to the trading community of the country.

Bills, invoices, receipts, printed documents, price lists and a vast variety of other commercial documents are transmitted in this way. These will now cost 1½d. instead of 1d.—a rise of 50 per cent. The fact that the weight limit for 1½d. is raised to four oz. is a mitigation of a very negligible character. One's credit would need to be very good before one could run up a bill weighing four oz.

I have received a number of complaints on this matter from associations of traders, chambers of commerce, manufacturing associations and so on, who have been vocal upon it, but the way in which it hits the ordinary man is worth considering. Of the examples which I have, I will quote one for which I am indebted to the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell). A constituent of his, who describes himself as a manufacturing chemist and only a small firm, says: In 1950 we despatched 548,743 circulars at printed paper rate representing a postage bill of £2,286 8s. 7d. The proposed new postage of 1½d, means that our costs will be increased by £1,143 plus, of course, the additional postage on thousands of invoices, statements, receipts, orders, price lists, etc. The rest of the letter I need not quote. It has in it a few remarks uncomplimentary to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, but there is no need to reiterate sentiments which are so universally held.

It makes quite a difference to this man if he has to pay another £1,000 a year, and the effect is that, if he is to survive at all, he has to meet that increased cost, and I prophesy that all, or a certain amount, of this increase will go straight on to the cost of the commodities which he produces. As I said before, at a time of rising costs, unless the need is absolutely imperative, it seems to me to be bad policy to increase these charges because they will pervade the whole commercial community. This is only one isolated example of this further step towards raising the cost of living.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Ness Edwards)

Would the right hon. Gentleman advocate the continuance of a subsidy on these services?

Mr. Morrison

No, I am not suggesting that at all. What I am suggesting—I am going into the figures in a moment—is that if the Post Office were properly managed, and if it received from the Government Departments the money that is due to it for the services which it renders, it would be a solvent organisation. It has a complete monopoly, and there would be no necessity to seek subventions either from the Exchequer or from the hardworking consumers of postal services.

Mr. Harry Wallace (Walthamstow, East)

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the Government should start the cash payments from the Departments?

Mr. Morrison

Not at all. I am well aware of the history of that matter. I am going into it. I think that the present Government should have taken the advice of the Select Committee on Estimates and made some proposition at least to revert to what was the previous method of receipt.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to suggest to the Committee that if there were cash payments it would alter at all the commercial account? Perhaps he will indicate how it works?

Mr. Morrison

I think it would. I am going to deal with that.

Mr. Wallace

I am referring to the Select Committee's Fourth Report. It was agreed in principle, of course, that these cash payments should be restored. I got the impression that the Select Committee agreed that it would not be practicable at the moment to do so.

Mr. Morrison

I think that the right hon. Gentleman should not have waited to get this prod from the Select Committee, and that he ought to have introduced that system before. I shall deal with the practicability of the suggestion in a moment. I have given one example of how it affects the trader, and it is no wonder that these charges should evoke the liveliest protest from commerce in general. The National Chamber of Trade says: It is just another vicious addition to the increase in rates which is the prevailing disease of this country. One would have thought that the national policy would be to try to reduce prices and so attract more business The National Union of Manufacturers say: This has come as a shock to industry and can only mean an increase in overhead costs and ultimately increased costs to the consumer. The Government is ready enough with advice to manufacturers to keep down costs, but it does not follow it itself. The right hon. Gentleman said on 4th April, that these charges were necessary, and that the services on which he proposed increases were running at a loss. I think those were his words. When we turn to the Estimates presented to Parliament in the middle of February, before there was any word of these increased charges, I find it difficult to reconcile these estimates with what was said on 4th April. We did not find the February Estimate anticipate a loss on postal and telephone services but actually a surplus on commercial accounts.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. What I said was that particular services in which I was making the increases were services Tuning at a loss and were subsidised by the others. I think that he should keep to that point.

Mr. Morrison

What the hon. Gentleman is increasing the charge upon in the postal services is the printed paper rate. I take it from his intervention that what he is saying is that, although the postal services as a whole yield a commercial surplus, dealing with these printed papers does not. Surely it is analysing things to a very fine point to take out particular categories of postal traffic and say that this one or that one makes a loss whereas others make a gain. The proper thing is for the Post Office to take the postal services as a whole and ensure that they make a profit. Who is going to distinguish between a packet weighing 4 oz. and one weighing 1½ oz., between a flimsy letter and a heavy one? That is impossible in execution.

I say that the printed paper rate should be borne by the higher rate that is charged for the rest of the postal work of the Post Office. If the right hon. Gentleman's argument were to be carried to a conclusion, it would mean that we would have to strike some average which would yield a surplus of £6 million, or whatever it is, for the whole of the postal services and that if it meant putting the printed packets up it would mean reducing the ordinary 2½d. post. Why should he be content to take the profit on the 2½d. letter and to say that the 1d. letter does not pay? No trader in business is ever allowed to exercise such discrimination Now that the right hon. Gentleman has descended into the dusty arena of business, he must be content to have a service as a whole that yields a profit.

The Estimates presented in February, before these charges were mooted, show a commercial profit on the postal service of £6,534,000 and on the telephone service of £6,577,000. There is an estimated loss on telegraphs, which is something in the nature of £5 million, as there has been ever since I can remember. An estimated surplus of some £8 million is a good surplus for these days, and it does not need any further enhancement of costs to back it up. If we look at the Financial Statement presented by the Chancellor, we see that the Chancellor confidently expects to receive from the Post Office a tax payment of £5,400,000 to go into revenue, and that is before the right hon. Gentleman has taken the step of making Government Departments pay their bills.

Mr. Ness Edwards

The right hon. Gentleman has got it quite wrong, and he is getting both of us confused. He is mixing up the cash account, the money paid to the Treasury, with the commercial account. There is no similarity between the two. It would be quite wrong to add a payment made by another Department to the Post Office to the money in the commercial account, because it is already there.

Mr. Morrison

I am guilty of no such confusion. My first point was that the estimated surplus on the commercial account for both the postal service and the telephone service before these charges were announced, in February, was of the order of £6 million for each. I made the further point, which is a different point, although it also tends in the same direction, that on the whole series of the right hon. Gentleman's transactions for the year the Chancellor expects him to hand over £5,400,000 to the Treasury. That is in the Financial Statement. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the Budget Estimates, he will see this item included under "Post Office net receipts."

Mr. Ness Edwards

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but we do want to get this straight. He is again mixing up the surplus in the commercial account with the yield to the Treasury. The surplus in the commercial account can never be added to the yield to the Treasury.

Mr. Morrison

I should not try to do so. Whichever test the right hon. Gentleman likes, whether we take the estimated surplus of the right hon. Gentleman's own Estimates of February or the Chancellor's estimate of the outturn of the operations of the Post Office for the year, we find the surplus in both cases.

Statements about these charges not being taxation and about their real necessity were contained in replies made by the right hon. Gentleman on 4th April to a number of supplementary questions. I agree that this is not always the best time for a Minister to be clear and precise as to what he is saying, but he has since admitted that two of the answers he gave on that occasion were erroneous. One was when he told us that there had been a rise in wages of 180 per cent. I understand that the figure should have been 80 per cent.

Mr. Ness Edwards

The right hon. Gentleman should not confuse rates with wages.

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman said that wages had gone up by 180 per cent., and there followed in the Press a day or two later a statement by an official of the Post Office saying that the right hon. Gentleman had made a slip and that the figure should be 80. All I am anxious to do is to get the truth.

Mr. H. Wallace

The figure is not 80 but something less.

Mr. Morrison

An error of 100 per cent. was quite good enough for me. If it is more than 100 per cent. it an a fortiori argument.

The other slip he made, which is perhaps more relevant, was when he told my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) that it would take 2,000 more people to check the Post Office bills of Government Departments. He later corrected that 2,000 to 100, and in the evidence before the Select Committee the figure was put at 75. There is a big difference between 2,000 and 100. I make no complaint about the right hon. Gentleman making a slip or two with figures. It is an easy enough thing to do, and I appreciate his candour in taking the earliest steps he could to put the matter right. I should like to give him the opportunity to make a further correction.

Does the right hon. Gentleman still adhere to the opinion he then expressed, in face of the arguments I have tried to adduce, between the Estimates, on the one hand, and the statement of the Chancellor on the other, that the postal and telephone services are running at a commercial loss so as to render necessary these increased charges? If not, what is the justification for the charges? Are they not pure taxation, and, if so, why were they not included in the Budget The right hon. Gentleman has accused me of mixing up two different things, but I think he has been bewildered by the complexity of his own accounts in their present form.

Up to April, 1943, which was two months after I ceased to be Postmaster-General, Government Departments paid their bills in cash. The charges were borne on the Votes of the Departments concerned and were met out of general taxation. Since April, 1943, the Post Office has not collected cash. That was an economy supposedly in manpower. But the Post Office has had included in its commercial accounts, estimates of the value of these services. That is to be found in Appendix F of the Estimates. If Members look at that Appendix, they will be astonished to find that the cost of the Post Office services rendered to the Air Ministry are estimated for the year at £4,265,000. I advise the right hon. Gentleman to return as quickly as he can to the practice of getting payments in cash for the services he renders to these Departments. This is not only my advice but the advice of the Select Committee, an all-party Committee, and I understand that it was a unanimous recommendation. The reasons for it are sufficiently obvious.

To defray these Government charges by raising the rates to the consumers of Post Office services is unjust. The whole cost of running the Air Ministry should be borne out of general taxation. It is unjust that a particular citizen whose business involves heavy postal charges should be called upon to pay a bigger slice of this £4 million for the Air Ministry than any other citizen. There may be the case of a man who is much better off and writes only two letters a week. His contribution to this part of the services to the Air Ministry is infinitely less than in the case I have just mentioned.

The second reason is this: the accounting officer of each Department should be made responsible for expenditure on Post Office services as he is responsible for the other expenditure of his Department. The right hon. Gentleman would find economy in the Departments much more easy to ensure if this were done. If the charges were included in the estimate of each Department, and were subjected to the scrutiny of the Treasury and later of the House, the hands of the accounting officers would be greatly strengthened, and they would be able to prevent wastefulness on Post Office services.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

As a member of the Committee that looked into this matter and knowing the reason why we advised a certain course to be taken, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell me, quite apart from the effect on the Budget, what would be the effect of a saving on the Post Office surplus? Would it not reduce it?

Mr. Morrison

That is one of the questions I find difficult to answer. One would have to know the size of the figures involved and how much labour and so on was diverted to this service. I could not answer offhand, but if the hon. Gentleman would care to give me a week to work it out, I will give him the best estimate that I can.

My general point is no more than this: if Government Departments had to pay for these things, economy in their use would be better ensured. The call on manpower and the time of the Post Office would be less for these particular things, and the right hon. Gentleman could turn the energies of his Department into more lucrative and remunerative channels of operation.

My next point is that the present method of estimating the size of the Government's bills, if it is accurate enough for the printed Estimates, is surely nearly accurate enough for the Department concerned to pay this bill in cash. Either the estimate given in Appendix F is well-nigh a guess, which I cannot believe, knowing the Post Office as I do, or the method of estimating the charges involved is sufficiently accurate for the estimate to be presented to Parliament as the best estimate the Post Office can give. I cannot believe that, as people are employed now in making that estimate, further steps to make the Government pay their proper bills would call for much more labour.

My last point is this. The right hon. Gentleman and the Committee are familiar with the proposals of the Bridge-man Committee. Roughly, these were that the Post Office should pay the Treasury a fixed sum every year, and that the balance of its surplus should be put into a fund called the Post Office Fund and applied by the Post Office in improving the services to the public or lowering the rates to the public, or both.

That system was unfortunately abandoned in, I think, 1940 until such time as Parliament should determine that it should be restored. Every well-wisher of the Post Office believes that this is the best system to which to return, and it is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Certainly one should work towards it, and the first step in that direction, in my judgment, is to make the Government Departments pay their proper postal charges. That is a strong argument which reinforces what I have said. What I am asking for is that Government Departments should bear their costs on their own Votes. They should get them defrayed from general taxation and should not ride on the backs of the consumers of the postal services, as has been the case hitherto.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

Would the right hon. Gentleman state the amount which was payable by the Post Office to the Treasury under the recommendations of the Bridgeman Committee; and would he agree that that amount, whatever it is, was a form of taxation on the Post Office user and a contribution towards general revenue?

Mr. Morrison

I think that for one year it was £10 million and another year £7,500,000. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, for he enables me to make my point a little clearer. There is nothing wrong in the Post Office being a revenue Department and making a suitable contribution to the revenue, provided it is stated openly in the Budget and approved in the House, but it is a very different thing to get concealed taxation by raising charges, as I argue unnecessarily, in order to swell the receipts which go to the Exchequer.

After all, the Post Office is, I think, the oldest and most respectable of Government monopolies. Certainly we have seen in recent years a rise of other Government monopolies, over whose finances we have less control than we have over those of the Post Office. There is an ever-present danger—and I think this is my answer to the Hon. Gentleman—that these monopolies may be thwarted from their primary purpose and become engines of concealed taxation. That is what this Committee should always be vigilant against. The consumers are quite powerless in the grasp of a monopoly.

I have spoken rather longer than I meant to do, but I had a number of interjections to reply to. I have not had any time to comment on the Post Office services and to refer to the many complaints which reach one's ears about the services being bad or worse than they used to be. No doubt other hon. Members will deal with that aspect of the subject. I say that these charges are taxation, and that in putting the right hon. Gentleman forward to make these proposals and then to defend them tonight, there is an element of concealment about this method of raising revenue which I deplore. Therefore, I hope we shall hear from him how it is that he is defending this taxation, and why it was that it was not included in the Budget statement.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Harry Wallace (Walthamstow, East)

I hope the right hon Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) will forgive me if I do not attempt to deal with all the points he made. He has probably gathered that there are one or two points I want to raise. He has, however, raised an issue which seems to me very important, that the Post Office should be a source of revenue for the Chancellor and the Treasury. My mind turns the other way—namely, that the Post Office services should not be a medium of taxation. The Post Office should have more freedom, and the Postmaster-General more control over the finances and the services.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, considerable surpluses have been handed back by the Post Office to the Treasury. Indeed the figure is astronomical if one takes it for the last 20 or 30 years. Suppose I say that it was nearly £200 million, what could the Post Office have done if it had had control of that sum to develop its services, to revise prices to the consumer, and not to reduce taxes? I agree with the right hon. Member—and I do not think my right hon. Friend will disagree—that the sooner that position is examined and cleared up, the better.

The right hon. Member spoke about the 1908 Act and constitutional indecency. He will know that the Constitution of this country is amended and adapted in the light of present-day needs. There is nothing, therefore, in this point which he made. He went on to talk about monopoly. I gathered from his remarks about the Post Office Fund that he thought it was right, as has been suggested, that the higher charges of the Post Office include a kind of royalty paid by the consumer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the use of the Post Office services. That is an interesting speculation. I am tempted to think that if the monopoly of the Post Office should pay a rent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, this would be a good doctrine to apply also to private monopolies—the Imperial Tobacco Company—and others, for example. It would provide a source of revenue if each one had to make a payment to the community for the right to exercise a monopoly. I do not advocate this proposal, but merely say that it is well worth examination.

Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)

The Government take the lot already.

Mr. Wallace

The hon. Member should make up his mind which way he wants it. I am not sure whether he prefers to pay it in the form of Income Tax or to have the Post Office charges put up and then to take it back as surpluses.

Mr. Jennings

I have no option. It is drawn from me.

Mr. Wallace

Look at all the services which the hon. Member has in return for what has been drawn from him, including the men who fought for him from 1939 to 1945.

Mr. Jennings

I fought for myself.

Mr. Wallace

I say no more about that.

I come now to my next point. I understand that my right hon. Friend finds that his costs are going up and that on several of his services he must increase the charges. What else can he do? The only other thing is for him to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a request to put up the taxes and then to lower the Post Office charges, and then to give it a subsidy because its charges will not cover its costs. That is not an arrangement which the public would like.

The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury spoke about the printed matter rate, which has been raised from 1d. to 1½d. He will agree that the general price level has altered considerably since 1939.

Mr. Nabarro (Kidderminster)

And since 1840.

Mr. Wallace

And since 1840. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to keep the 1840 price in 1951.

The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. Hobson)

And the wages.

Mr. Wallace

Yes, and I will come to that. But does the right hon. Member imagine that a charge of 1½d. will cover the cost of dealing with this particular traffic? If not, why should not a charge be made which would, in fact, cover it? Apparently, when the Post Office puts up its prices to meet increasing costs, it is wrong. The right hon. Member referred to a firm in Wembley whose postage bill would increase and who thought it was scandalous that Post Office prices should go up. I do not know what profits that concern is making, or whether these, too, are scandalous.

Mr. Collick (Birkenhead)

It would be a good profit, because they are chemists.

Mr. Wallace

The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out the other day that profits were increasing and were taking a larger part of the nation's income. I am not unduly worried, however, by a case of the kind mentioned by the right hon. Member unless I know all the facts.

I understand that the cost of submarine cable—my right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong—has gone up by something like 500 per cent. That is wicked—

Mr. Collick

Is that monopoly?

Mr. Nabarro

Devaluation, not monopoly.

Mr. Wallace

Telephone cable has risen by 260 per cent., telephone apparatus by 140 per cent., and exchange equipment by 125 per cent. The cost of the conveyance of mails has gone up, I think, by something like £6 million since 1946.

Mr. Nabarro

I am following the hon. Member's argument with the closest attention. The percentages he is quoting of the increases in the cost of various equipment are valueless unless he tells the House on what year they are based. Is it 1939 or 1920?

Mr. Wallace

If I were to tell the hon. Member that he now pays £2 for something for which formerly he paid £1, he would understand what I was saying.

Mr. Nabarro

What is the year on which the figures are based?

Mr. Wallace


Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Member did not say that.

Mr. Follicle (Loughborough)

We all understood that.

Mr. Nabarro

It might have been 1840.

Mr. Wallace

It is not 1840. The charge for air transport—I have given the date for that, 1946—has been increased by £1 million. Hon. Members have advocated that the subsidy by the Post Office to the air mail service should be increased.

Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)

The hon. Member talks about a subsidy, but in fact the Postmaster-General is paying to our air corporations between three and four gold francs per ton kilometre when his own representative at the Cairo conference recommended that five gold francs was a proper rate. Therefore, where is the subsidy?

Mr. Wallace

I did not say a subsidy. I said that I had heard hon. Members advocating higher prices, which would in effect be a subsidy to the air mail services. There might be a case for that, but those same hon. Members should not criticise the Post Office the next week if its charges for transport had been increased. It is a question of whether the Post Office or the Chancellor of the Exchequer should pay.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)

I also am trying to follow the hon. Member's argument. Is he arguing that the Post Office is paying too much or too little—an unfair charge or a proper charge—for that air transport?

Mr. Wallace

I am merely arguing that the Post Office has to pay; and if it has to pay, it has to find the money from somewhere. It would be most interesting if my right hon. Friend could give the Committee the cost, for instance, of building and equipping a telephone exchange today as compared with 1939.

I turn now to the question of wages. According to the report of the Select Committee, the Post Office staff has been reduced in number, yet their output is higher. There is before the Postmaster-General a claim for an increase of wages. An offer has been made—

Mr. Ness Edwards


Mr. Jennings

Does the Minister not know about it?

Mr. Wallace

An offer has been made. In case my right hon. Friend does not know, I say that it is an increase of 4s. a week, but it is regarded as quite inadequate. I would point out to the Committee that the overall average of wages in the Post Office, of all staffs, is 110s. a week—£5 10s.—and that is pretty low.

Mr. Collick

Basic rate, or earnings?

Mr. Wallace

Not earnings, the wage, and the average for some of the classes is 93s. These figures are not exceptional.

To give another example, the maximum of a postal and telegraph officer in London in 1939 was 108s., and in 1951, 164s., an increase of 52 per cent. So I could go through 52 per cent., 64 per cent., 70 per cent., 57 per cent., 87 per cent., 95 per cent. and in one case 64 per cent., 61 per cent. and so on. I am bound to tell the Committee that that figure, which I think was a mistake, caused considerable feeling. In the Post Office, as in many branches of the Civil Service, we have long incremental scales. It may be that an officer will be 31, 32, or even 34 years of age before he gets to his maximum. I have heard this arrangement condemned many times. Cannot something be done to put an end to it? I regard it as scandalous that we should have this arrangement.

The rate of pay at 21 years of age is below £5 a week and I could go through all the different scales and give rates of 97s., 94s., 99s. for the higher paid grades, 88s., 83s., 96s. and 81s. for the lower, and here in London, even, at the maximum, 103s. The long incremental scale and the rate at 21 years of age are out-of-date in times like these. We say that youth reaches manhood at 21. When does he get a man's wage? When he is 30? When is he expected to take on manhood's responsibilities? Consider today the difficulty of young people who have to face the problem of establishing a home, with prices what they are, on a wage of less than £5 a week.

Mr. Jennings

I do not want to interrupt him unduly, but would not the hon. Member agree that the cost of living and the policy of this Government that have had the adverse effect on these wages?

Mr. Follick


Mr. Wallace

That is a fair question and I do not mind it being asked. I do not see what this Government could do to control the price of wool, or cotton. They seem to have great difficulty in controlling the price of meat in the Argentine and in Australia. Let us be honest about this. If the party opposite were in control, they could not stop these prices going up. I agree that some of them sincerely believe they could do better, but I do not believe they would. We know what happened to prices from 1918 to 1939. I know what the party opposite did to wages in the Civil Service, how they steadily reduced them until two-thirds of a man's wage went in rent and the only luxury many of those families got was a piece of bacon on a Sunday.

Mr. Jennings

The hon. Member's party have been in power for the last five or six years. Why do they not remedy these things?

Mr. Wallace

There is one big remedy we have brought about—full employment.

I have referred to the long incremental scales and the low rates at 21 years of age, and I want to ask my right hon. Friend if he does not find the number of resignations occurring in 1948, 1949 and 1950 extraordinary. I know the Manchester Post Office and if I had heard that in those three years there have been 855 resignations I would have been appalled.

The House was surprised when these charges were announced. I want to suggest to my right hon. Friend what I have advocated on a number of occasions. Is it not time that the Post Office put out a yearly report, like the other nationalised undertakings? There is a commercial account I know, but I am asking for the restoration of the old report we used to have from the Post Office.

Mr. Ness Edwards

It may have escaped the notice of my hon. Friend, but the report was published two months ago.

Mr. Wallace

I am bound to confess that it had escaped my knowledge. I am glad it has been restored. I think a day could be set aside for the discussion of that report. Unless the Opposition ask for time to discuss it, as they have asked for this debate, there is no opportunity of discussing the report. There should be such an opportunity; a day should be set aside for the discussion of that report. That ought to be an accepted arrangement.

Those are the two points that I wish to urge. Above all, I say to my right hon. Friend that he is faced with—I do not wish to exaggerate—rather serious discontent in the. Post Office. I hope that he will be able to make an improvement on the offer which has been made. I think that part of the discontent is due to the fact that although the claim was presented in December, it was only the other day that the union received an answer, and that really is too long a period to elapse before getting not a settlement but an answer to a claim.

In the circumstances I feel that my right hon. Friend can do no other than increase these charges, but I hope that further consideration will be given to the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite about the relation between the Post- master-General and the Treasury or the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Postmaster-General and the Post Office should have more freedom, more power and more control over Post Office finances and surpluses. I should prefer to see the surpluses being worked back into the services and the services being made cheaper to the consumer. I do not think that the Post Office should be used as a medium of taxation. Had that not been the case down the years, matters would have been very different. In particular the arrangements in relation to wages in the Post Office would have been up to date instead of being so much out of date as they are at present. In all industry a man of 21 to 25 years of age gets his rate for the job, but not in the Post Office until he is 27 to 32 years old.

My right hon. Friend should devote his attention to the problems which arise in this connection. There is the classification of offices, the differential between the provinces and London. Can my right hon. Friend not do something to see that an attack is made on these long incremental scales? After all, if £1 million or £2 million can be set aside for investment to improve the service in one direction or another, why cannot something be done to tackle these long incremental scales? Something should also be done to advance towards meeting the claim of the women to equal pay for equal work. I do not say that that claim can be wholly met at once; it may take a period. If the Post Office would only tell the staff, "We agree in principle, we will begin to attack these 30-and 40-year old problems—classification, long incremental scales, equal pay for equal work," output and efficiency would be improved because something which matters very much in industry would be obtained—the good will of the organised workers. In the circumstances I shall support my right hon. Friend, because I do not think that he could do anything else than increase these charges.

8.34 p.m.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)

I find myself in considerable agreement with the latter part of what the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Wallace) has been saying. It is a very fair criticism of the way in which Post Office affairs are now run that the surpluses which the Post Office may make from time to time are absorbed into the Treasury and that when the Post Office requires money it cannot get that money back again.

My right hon. Friend who opened the debate stressed that there should be a line of demarcation—whether the Post Office is to have control of its own finances, in which case it should make these pronouncements, as the right hon. Gentleman did the other day, or whether it should be under the Treasury, in which case these pronouncements would be made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as they have been in the past. At the present time we do not know where we are and the situation is one of confusion. The Postmaster-General himself has difficulty in explaining to the Committee the incidence of the accounts. I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman has difficulty in understanding the accounts. I say he has difficulty in explaining them to the Committee.

There is one question which the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East, posed at the beginning of his speech which I would like to follow up. What can the Postmaster do regarding these losses? They have been referred to before—certain telephone accounts, telegraphic accounts and certain accounts of postage, particularly with regard to the remaining 1d. postage, the printed rate. The Postmaster-General can do one of two things, and I am answering the hon. Member who asked the question. He can carry them as a loss and set them off against the profits which he makes on other accounts, such as the 2½d. post; or else he can raise the price of the services which are not profitable so as to make them break even. If he does that he must also reduce the price of the services which are at present giving him a profit and upon which he is carrying the services which are running at a loss. He cannot have it both ways—[Interruption.]—I did not catch what the right hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I was trying to inform the hon. Gentleman that one cannot split halfpennies.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Certainly I have never tried to split halfpennies, but I dare say that the right hon. Gentleman could toss for them. We are dealing with millions of pounds and we could perfectly well make an adjustment which would cover the situation as I have put it. My point is that he cannot get his profit on one side of the accounts while he is using the argument that he has to raise prices on other accounts which are showing a loss. He must not act as a tax gatherer but as a commercial undertaking.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I could do that if I charged 1¼d. for inland letters and 2¼d. for the ordinary letter. Will the hon. Member tell us how that can be done?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I have not the slightest desire to tell the right hon. Gentleman anything, or to teach him his job. I suggest it is for him to find the way. I am merely advocating certain sound principles of business. The right hon. Gentleman is in charge of one of the biggest business organisations in the country. I have not the slightest hesitation in expressing the view that he has any number of exceedingly competent and able people in his Department who could solve even problems such as that.

What is to be the effect of these increases in prices? We have been told by both the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and his predecessors that the basic principle of taxation is, generally speaking, to hit the luxury type of expenditure and not to increase the necessary costs of living. The charges which the right hon. Gentleman is making by the increases he is putting on the postal service appear to be absolutely contrary to that principle. I quite agree that there are liable to be telephone abusers rather than telephone users—people who run up colossal and unnecessary amounts over telephones. But it is not those people whom the right hon. Gentleman is hitting. He is hitting the people who use the telephones in the public boxes.

I suggest that he could avoid increasing the price by a very little technical ingenuity. I am no technician, and I have not the faintest idea how it is to be done, but I am certain that it is not beyond the wit of the telephone engineers to achieve. The idea is to put into the apparatus a time-operating lever which will allow a two-minute or, if preferred, a three-minute call and no more. I commend that suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman.

The other evening I was at Sloane Square standing in the queue outside the one telephone box there. There was a good lady in that box who stayed there for 20 minutes. During that time no fewer than eight people came and stood in the queue, and then went away in despair. Presumably, the right hon. Gentleman got 2d. out of the lady in the box. Even on his increased charge he would get only 3d. How much did he lose from the people who were frustrated and went away? If a time signal were fitted to limit the call, as it is with a toll call operated from an exchange, or if a time machine were installed to cut the connection on a local call after two minutes, then the person would have to start again. If the lady wanted another call she would have to check her pennies. Probably by then she would have run out of pennies, and would have to leave the box to get more. That would give somebody else a chance, including the right hon. Gentleman, who would get more money.

Generally speaking the type of person who will suffer as a result of the increased charges is not the telephone abuser—

Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing

Does my hon. Friend suggest also that there should be a limit on the length of the call made by the private subscriber? Might not the argument apply in the same way if 10 different people wanted to make a connection to one number, when that number was engaged because one subscriber was talking for 20 minutes?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I do not think that that argument would commend itself to the Postmaster-General, because that would result in a limitation of the number of lines to that number Now, when one gets a blockage on the line, the Postmaster-General comes along and says, "Will you please enlarge your private exchange, increase your number of lines, and then I can take an additional rental from you?" In any event, my technical knowledge, being exceedingly limited, does not enable me to follow my hon. Friend in a design for an instrument which would achieve the object he has in mind.

Mr. Collick

May I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that there was a written answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT yesterday in reply to the very question which the hon. Gentleman has now posed? I wonder if he has seen it.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I am grateful to the hon. Member. I have not seen it. I hope that the answer is satisfactory.

Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)

Will the hon. Gentleman forgive me for a moment? The answer was given to me.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I cannot help that.

Mr. Harrison

I was about to inform the hon. Gentleman that the answer was most unsatisfactory. I wonder whether his experience is the same as mine. The Minister suggested to me, in that answer, that the abuser of the service is a very rare bird, but it has been my experience that the abuser—the person who takes 20 minutes on a 2d. call—is common, not only in call box but on private lines.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I am glad to have support for my idea which I had hoped was an original one. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will pursue their line of thought and see that, sooner or later, the Postmaster-General adopts it.

The increases on the printed paper rates are charges which will hit commercial people. Who is going to send out matter under the printed paper rate for fun, or for anything except necessary commercial use with a view to increasing, enlarging and getting business? The increase will also hit the commercial user who sends out bills and receipts. It is a charge which is deliberately calculated to increase the cost of business, and so, again, I think the increased cost of telegrams is a matter for the greatest regret. Telegrams are generally the resort for swift communication of the poorest people. I do not say that business houses and better off people do not also use them; I am not saying that it is exclusively so, but the poorest people who have to communicate swiftly generally do so by telegram.

Mr. Hobson

On a point of order. In view of the fact that the telegrams increase involves legislation, is it strictly in order to develop that argument?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

This is not a debate on the Motion for the Adjournment.

The Deputy-Chairman

To suggest legislation is out of order in Committee of Supply.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I see the point, Sir Charles, and I had not intended to drift out of order. The point which was in my mind has been adequately cleared up.

The increased charges which the Postmaster-General is introducing are charges which are deliberately calculated to increase the cost of business, and I therefore return to the fundamental point that the right hon. Gentleman should either run this show as a business proposition or else as a Government Department. If it is the latter, he must admit that charges of that nature are increases in taxation, and, if he seeks to increase taxation in this way, then it is a matter which should be done openly through the Treasury.

If, on the other hand, he claims that his is a business Department, and these are business necessities, how is it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is telling us on every possible occasion that private enterprise and business companies are making too great profits and that their profits are increasing time after time and year after year, so that he is justified in putting increased taxation upon them? When the Chancellor says that about private enterprise business why is it that the Post Office, which is the biggest business of all and is protected by monopoly, has to come here to this House and say that it cannot make a profit? The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If his Department is a business house, let him put his house in order, and let him raise the surplus which he estimates he will have and not come to this Committee and seek increased charges against the community or ask us to give him an additional surplus over and above anything that he requires for commercial use.

8.48 p.m.

Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)

I hope that the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his entertaining experiences in watching ladies in telephone kiosks. May I go back to the beginning of this debate and deal with the charges upon the Post Office? At the beginning of the debate, we had views exchanged between the Postmaster-General and one of his predecessors, but I will not go into that. In that context I want to begin by quoting what the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), said on 4th April. I always listen to the hon. Gentleman with edification, and I did so upon this occasion, because, in regard to this question of income or lack of income of the Post Office, he said: Is it not a fact that over the last five years there has been a very substantial deficit on cash transactions, and that the Treasury has had to supply the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors with nearly £40 million out of taxation?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th April, 1951; Vol. 486, c. 211.] That is the position as it is, and I rise to make a comment on the situation as I see it. If I were the Postmaster-General, I would look into the matter, see where I was losing money and whether I would have to charge increases to make up for the lack of income. The Postmaster-General would have to review those quarters making a loss. I always think that the term "making a loss" is something rather funny. I can understand one suffering a loss, but to make something seems to me to add it to what one already has.

I understand that the Post Office is losing something like £2,250,000 on local telephone calls. But when I was at school some 25 years ago, if I went into a telephone kiosk it cost me 2d. to make a call even in those days. It still costs 2d. today, despite the increased cost of overheads, material, labour, and the like. Again, perhaps the Minister can tell us how much his Department is losing, for example, on the parcels post. There has been some comment this evening from hon. Members opposite about charging 1½d. instead of 1d. for the inland printed paper rate. I understand that, here again, the estimated loss is in the vicinity of some £4 million.

To me as a taxpayer it seems hardly fair that one should ask old age pensioners, or, for that matter, anyone else with a small income, to pay 2½d. on a letter in order to subsidise business and commercial houses in this way. I know that the Government subsidise agriculture, and I am not complaining about that. Indeed, other Governments in the past have subsidised the railways to the extent of something like £50 million, and also such industrial activities as clock making. At the same time, I think it hardly fair that the Post Office should be asked to subsidise business and commerce in this fashion.

I am also told that the Post Office is losing something like £90,000 a year on the C.O.D. arrangement, which, according to my arithmetic, works out at about 6½d. a parcel. Does the Committee believe that business and commerce should be bolstered up in this particular way?

Mr. Collick

Is my hon. Friend disputing the fact that at the moment, taking all the Post Office services together, it is not, in fact, running at a loss?

Mr. Johnson

At the beginning of my remarks, I pointed out that it had been stated that within the last few years the Government had paid out something like £40 million on behalf of the Post Office.

Mr. R. V. Grimston (Westbury)

Is not that after Government Departments have received their services free?

Mr. Johnson

That is quite correct. To put myself in his place, if the Postmaster-General is living in that particular financial climate—

Mr. Ross

The Post Office gets this cash from the Treasury, but it also gets a credit from the Treasury for money due to it from Government Departments.

Mr. Johnson

I am being shot at even on my own flank. As a poor taxpayer—and I emphasise the word "poor"—I ask myself, what cost has the Postmaster-General to meet? The hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. H. Wallace), mentioned the enormously increased cost of submarine cables which are up 500 per cent., and telephone apparatus. That has gone up by something like 125 per cent. Of course, one could quote statistics ad lib. in this matter. Cables are up 200 per cent. and kiosk and house installations are up 140 per cent. Again, I have been looking up the figures concerning contracts for the conveyance of parcels. In 1928, it cost the Post Office something like £6 million in contracts to convey their parcels, and I am told that this year it is something over £17 million.

Now these are the harsh economic facts. The Postmaster-General has to face his financial commitments and to cover them in some way. He has to be prudent. He has to have a financial policy to make ends meet. If this were not a State or government monopoly, what would private enterprise do. In the United States of America the cost of telephone calls has gone up to 8d. We have been told that wage claims are pending. Obviously, these claims must be in the Postmaster-General's mind at the moment. It would be interesting to know to what the proposed claims in the negotiations between the Union of Post Office Workers and the Postmaster-General amount. It would help us greatly to get the whole thing into perspective.

I attended recently a meeting of Post Office workers in the Midlands and I can echo what has been said here about their wages. I was amazed at their wage rates. They are pitiful. We used to be told that the Post Office made a lot of money. In the past, as a Socialist politician, or an alleged Socialist politician, I have said on the platforms that the Post Office made £11 million, £12 million, £13 million profit, and so on. I was always challenged with the words, "Why do you not as a Government pay better wages for workers in that industry?"

In this debate I heard talk of cash accounts, commercial accounts and the like. I am told that many of these figures in the accounts are "notional" figures. The word "notion" intrigued me. To my mind it implied an idea, and therefore notional figures were idealist figures. I look up the dictionary and I find that the word "idealist" does not fit in at all. So I suggest that the word should be "fictitious." To me these figures in the commercial and cash accounts are purely imaginary and fictitious.

These twin systems of finance seem quite incomprehensible and completely contradictory and superficial. I echo what has been said earlier—that Government Departments should pay for work done for them. Now that I have discovered what the accounts are and how they are arrived at—I find that commercial accounts have a surplus of £8 million and that the cash accounts have a deficit of £8 million—it does not make sense. No business house would tolerate it for one moment.

Let us correct these Estimates, and let us have a large comprehensive annual report as we have in the case of the coal industry or any other modern nationalised industry. Then let us debate that report in the House. Unlike the case with the National Coal Board, we might get more intimate contact with the Post Office, which has more public accountability than some of these large octopi—I will not say monsters—we have about us in our modern State. By all means, let us give the Postmaster-General more power in his own house.

The present system is misleading, not to say bogus. The public are given a certain impression—that the Post Office makes £x million. The workers also get that impression and they make demands, in good faith. These increased charges came as a shock to me and to the taxpayer, but as things are, I support them. I can see no alternative while the present state of affairs continues; and therefore I support the charges under the present system, and support the Postmaster-General in his action.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)

I find myself very largely in agreement with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), and until his penultimate sentence I thought I should find myself in the same Lobby, if a Division occurred, for he seemed to be totally in agreement with the remarks made by my right hon. Friend in his speech opening the debate.

The gravamen of my charge is this. What has the Postmaster-General done in order to get the Departments to pay for the services, telephone and telegraph, which he supplies? After all, these services were paid for in very serious times: they were paid for in 1940 and in 1941 and in 1942, and the moratorium was not declared until 1943. I imagined, in my mind that before he came to make his very unpleasant pre-view Budget to the House, he would have been rushing round to the Ministers and saying to them, "You must pay me for the services I have provided." I imagined him, with all the Welsh zest we see on the rugby field, charging to the Ministries, perhaps offering a few resignations—which was so much in the fashion at the time—unless he got what he wanted.

I must confess that it was with some surprise that I found him on the wrong side of the fence. Apparently he does not argue that he should be paid for these services, for he seems to be convinced that the staff needed would be unnecessarily large. The figures ran away with him a little because he first said that the number needed would be 2,000, whereas he subsequently divided that by 20 and said the number would be 100. If 100 extra people are needed to collect this £12 million, so as not to throw an unnecessary burden unfairly on the public, surely that is a worthwhile effort.

I should have thought, too, that he would have taken some notice of the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates who strongly recommended that this action should be taken when the manpower was available. We find the Postmaster-General now compelled, not to use white-collared clerical assistants to settle this account, but to send telephone engineers round to 55,000 telephone boxes to make adjustments at each one of those boxes in order that 3d. may buy what 2d. used to buy. That is a very poor exchange at a time when the technical manpower of the country, and particularly of his Department, is so badly needed: instead of using clerical assistants he is using technical manpower.

The Postmaster-General is not only short of cash but is also woefully short of material. We know about the shortages. Those of us who no doubt have a large constituency correspondence complaining about it know of many cases where people have been in a queue for a private telephone for a very long time and where they still cannot get a telephone. We know the right hon. Gentleman is short of cable, which is very expensive with the present high price of raw material and which will be even more expensive in the future. We know he is short of exchange equipment and of the buildings to house it. Surely, in those circumstances, he had a moral obligation to demand of the various Ministries using his services that they should pay for them, because by making that demand he would have induced them to economise to a very much greater extent than at the moment.

The Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report, 1948–49, states that when this system of cash payments was introduced in 1923 there was a marked drop in the services as applied to the Ministries. Like other hon. Members, I have been studying Appendix F of these Estimates. It really makes most alarming reading. It is difficult to select any Ministry which has not expanded its needs since 1938 or 1939, but I select the Home Office because I think it is probably representative, and is a Ministry which has not very great additional responsibilities, because even at that time it had to look after air-raid precautions, which were included in the Estimates. Its Estimate for 1939 was £11,000. Its requirements for telephone and telegraph services today amount to £161,600. Surely we must encourage more efficient use of the telephone lines and the telephone equipment throughout Government Departments if we are to make sense of these accounts.

Mr. Collick

That clearly would not be a fair comparison. I do not know what the exact circumstances are, but I cannot imagine that that would be a fair comparison. It is a notional figure.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Well, we are asked to look at that figure, and I think we must accept it. I found it in the Library. It is an Estimate of a Government Department. However, if we compare the Estimates of other Departments we find the same marked increase. I agree that the value of money has changed. One should perhaps double the figure, and make it £22,000 in 1939: but it is still £161,000 today.

The largest of these figures are those of the Service Ministries. Perhaps the Minister of Defence is exhausted after his day's efforts, I thought he might be here, because if we were to get this cash from the Service Departments for these services, it would make a difference of £8 million—a matter of very great moment. I cannot help wondering whether the strictest economy is being exercised in the Service Departments. No one would deny the Service Departments the communications facilities they need for the defence of the country, but I cannot help wondering whether the strictest economy is used.

I have some memories of the war, and some memories of teleprinter and tie lines between A and B and B and C and C and D. Is operational research checking the volume of traffic on the various Service lines? I remember checks being taken in the war and finding the most fantastic messages being made. When one came to analyse them one found they were dates for lunch, dates for golf, dates for the cinema, and these were just dates—all being made on the Service tie lines. I cannot help wondering whether today the same tendency still exists, and if it does exist, then that is one of the reasons why we are asked to make these increased charges which fall upon the public.

I also wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has looked at the revenue-earning hours of his long-distance circuits. In many cases, these radio telephone circuits are open only two to three hours a day. What percentage of that time is earning revenue, and what percentage is being taken up by Government Departments for messages for which the right hon. Gentleman receives no cash payments? That is another point I think we should examine, because all sorts of revenue-earning messages are being pushed back or being denied—messages for the Press, for example, and other messages on urgent business matters. Government Departments must use those same long-distance circuits as well, and I should like to know, if the right hon. Gentleman has those figures, exactly what percentage of our long-distance circuits time is now earning revenue.

I wonder, too, whether as a measure of economy he could not introduce the pip system, not only on Government telephones but also on Service telephones; then as the pips sounded people would be more aware that their taxes were running down the telephone line, and perhaps they would shorten their conversation by summarising the points they wanted to cover before making the call.

It is surely unfair that, because the right hon. Gentleman has not convinced his colleagues that they must pay for the services they get, certain sections of the population have got to bear these increased charges. I so much agree with so many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who say that it seems most unfair that the poorer sections, who rely so much on the telephone box, who have in many instances to queue for hours in order to get into these rather rare telephone boxes—

Mr. Hobson indicated dissent.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I will quote him chapter and verse.

Mr. Hobson

The hon. Gentleman says that people have to queue for hours, and I say that is an absurdity.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I wish it were an absurdity. I can quote him a case.

Mr. Hobson


Mr. Orr-Ewing

At a Burnt Oak housing estate until very recently, within the last six months, when the cable has been put in, there have been queues outside telephone boxes, and people have complained in writing—I have not checked it, but I must accept their word—that very often at peak periods they queue up to an hour or more before they can telephone.

Mr. Hobson


Mr. Orr-Ewing

The hon. Gentleman may say "Nonsense." He is refuting the statements of my constituents, and, while I do not want to insult the hon. Gentleman, I prefer to trust those people who have elected me. Is it not unfair that these people should be called upon to subsidise the increased Government Department expenditure?

The Postmaster-General has also had to make certain cuts in development and design work which is going on at Dollis Hill and other places. He told me that the weather service which he had hoped to introduce is now in abeyance. Surely this is the last moment when we as a nation should cut research and development on telephone services. Cable, with its large lead content, with the large amount of copper which it uses, will become rarer and ever more expensive. We must investigate and develop every possible method of carrying more circuits on the existing cable, and I would say that this is a very bad moment for this measure, and a moment we would not have to face if the right hon. Gentleman had collected the cash from the Government Departments.

With this extra £12 million he would be able—and here I sympathise with what was said by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. H. Wallace)—to pay a higher rate to the staff. It is particularly necessary for the engineering staff, for which I have a soft spot, because if they are not paid more highly and given greater increments they will be tempted out of the Post Office and into industry, which is clamouring for their services, and we cannot afford to lose these men with their training.

At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry on this telephone service and to pay our national Air Corporations a fair price for the mail they carry. I have heard him argue that he is paying a fair price, but in answering a Parliamentary Question he has said that he is paying between 3.13 and 4.17 gold francs per tonne kilometer. In answer to another Parliamentary Question he told us that his representatives went to the Cairo conference and advocated that the international rate should be lowered from six gold francs to five gold francs. If they advocated a rate of five gold francs there, why is the right hon. Gentleman not paying these Corporations that rate? Why is it cut to three or four gold francs? It seems to me most unfair and, if I may say so, hanky-panky, to exploit—using a word which has been generally used over the last 20 years—the monopoly position which the right hon. Gentleman has to force on these Air Corporations a lower rate than the international rate. This makes their accounts look wrong, because they merit a much greater price and should receive between £1 million and £2 million extra from this higher rate.

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to press for the various Government Departments to pay for the services which they are getting. I hope that he will tell us that he is going to reinstate the system that existed before 1943, because only if that system is reinstated will he be able to pay fair rates to the Post Office personnel, fair rates to the State Corporations and charge fair rates to the public for the services which it requires.

9.16 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I heartily agree with the remarks of the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) in reference to research. I think that it is rather foolish at this stage that the Post Office should cut down on research, and I say unhesitatingly that, considering the work that has been done and the amount of money that has been, and is being, saved annually for the country by Post Office engineering research that has been done in the past, and in view of the position that is arising now, it would be a waste rather than a saving of money to cut down on research.

That is about the only thing on which I can agree with the hon. Gentleman. The theme of his speech and of many other speeches has been that if only the Government Departments would pay their £12 million, this question would not arise at all. The position of the Post Office is that it is a revenue Department. All the revenue that is taken in over Post Office counters throughout the country goes into the Treasury, and all the payments of the Post Office go out from the Treasury.

Does it matter at all whether we actually pay into the Treasury in cash or whether what is owed by Government Departments is credited in the Treasury? I know that it is confusing to have two different types of accounts. If the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen who have been confusing themselves and the country on this point would read the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, on which I served, they would see that we were purely concerned with the strictly accounting aspects of this matter, and went on further to examine this matter purely and simply from the point of view of whether the use by Government Departments of telephone services, etc., was unreasonably high and caused inconvenience to the public.

The point is this. Supposing that we employed these extra 70 people in the Post Office to send out quarterly or half-yearly accounts and other people in the Government Departments to check that there was no abuse of these services, it would mean, if it were successful, that the Government Departments would use less services and pay less, and less would be credited to them. The surplus would go down. I do not say that that would not be a good thing, but that would be the effect in the light of what we are discussing tonight.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that if they paid cash for the services, the commercial account, which I think was rightly called the paper or fictitious account, and the cash account would more nearly balance? The difference betwen the two accounts is that between £12 million and £22 million. The services to Government Departments are not paid for.

Mr. Ross

The commercial account shows the credit of the Post Office.

Mr. H. Wallace

On page 84 of the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, it is stated: If the Post Office were to say to the Treasury. 'We wish to use up this surplus'"— that is referring to what they were getting from cash payments— 'by buying more cables and more telephone equipment, in order to give a better service to the public,' what sort of reply would be received from the Treasury?—I imagine that would very largely impinge on capital investment decisions which are taken by the Government. The amount of capital expenditure which the Post Office can make is determined annually, and they must make their purchases within that ceiling

Mr. Ross

That refers to capital expenditure. I wish that instead of referring to that question, Members would refer to the previous questions, because we have had this bleating from the Opposition about using the Post Office surplus to fortify the revenue. The fact is that during the years before the war and up to 1938–39 the Post Office was in duty bound to pay to the Treasury £10¾ million for revenue purposes. Members opposite did nothing about it then, and it was only stopped at the beginning of the war when the Post Office could not continue to do it.

Mr. Assheton (Blackburn, West)

We entirely agree that the Post Office is a trading concern and as such, in making a profit should contribute to the Treasury in exactly the same way as commercial undertakings in making a profit have to pay a tax on their profits. That is the genesis of our argument.

Mr. Ross

That makes nonsense of all the arguments that Members opposite have been putting forward tonight. Members opposite have been speaking as if the Post Office were the only people to ask for increases. I am wondering where they have been during the past few months. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) spoke of harrying the Government, and we have had Prayer after Prayer in connection with industry asking the President of the Board of Trade to allow them to raise their prices in order to make a profit. It is only when the Post Office do the same thing that Members opposite oppose it. They have not opposed one of these demands for an increase to allow an industry to make a profit.

The background to these increased charges is undoubtedly the cost of living and the increase in costs. The Post Office has not been Insulated from them. When the Committee went into this matter a year ago, the figure given was an increase of 140 per cent. compared with before the war. Reference has been made to wages. Not only have wages increased, but they will still further increase. We have also had an increase in the tax on petrol. The private hauliers immediately raised their prices for road transport. But this also affects the delivery vans of the Post Office.

Members opposite should get their heads out of the clouds or the sand, or wherever they hide themselves. The Post Office bulk-buy their equipment on a five-year contract, but there is a clause which allows contractors to raise their prices if wage rates change or the prices of raw materials go up. They have gone up, and I should like to know by how much. There can be no doubt about these increases in costs. The manufacturers are not subsidising the Post Office but are passing on their charges. It is now a question whether the Post Office should subsidise the manufacturers, which is what the Opposition would like them to do.

There are only three things that can be done. The first is to carry the loss and let the surplus disappear: the second is to effect economies to maintain what surplus there is, and the third is to raise the charges as suggested. To carry the loss may be a good argument from the Socialist point of view, although I do not think it would be logical for the Committee to do that, as it has refused to do it for the railways, which are more fundamental to the country today. When one considers what has happened to the railway men and how long they have had to wait, if people point to the fact that the Post Office is making a profit, I do not think that that suggestion would be attractive to the Post Office workers.

Secondly, the loss would be borne by the general body of taxpayers and not the sections of industry concerned, especially when we remember that those sections should carry that loss themselves. Such a step would be unjustifiable, as it would be giving a subsidy to users of the service, most of whom can well afford to.

carry the burden. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are not very keen on subsidies. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), is against all subsidies; he emphasised "all" by spelling out the letters in one debate recently. I am sure he would not be prepared to give a subsidy to industry or to any other section of the community.

When the Select Committee on Estimates considered the Post Office's affairs last year, concern was expressed about the amount that the Post Office was allowing for depreciation. It was pointed out then that whereas the depreciation allowances stood at £139 million, the cost of replacements at present-day charges was about £600 million. I am not sure whether those figures are quite accurate, but it is something like that. It was suggested that the Post Office should take far more out of the surplus and put it into depreciation allowances. During the next two years the Treasury will be allowing them to take 25 per cent. of their surplus.

If there is a problem about these depreciation allowances at the present time, and if we allow the surplus to disappear altogether, then the problem is going to be made all the more difficult, because the amount going for those depreciation allowances would just not be there. To let the loss slide and ignore it would be wrong because it would be illogical, it would be subsidising unjustifiably sections of the community at the expense of all, and it would create a problem over depreciation.

There is the question of economy. The Select Committee on Estimates exists for the purpose of effecting economies. Hon. Members should study the whole of the Select Committee's Report regarding the Post Office. They will see that the Committee were more concerned about getting the Post Office to spend more money on the telephone service than in showing them how to effect economies.

When one considers exactly what has been done, one cannot help feeling that these new charges are justified. There has been an increase in business in the Post Office. I know there has been an increase in staff compared with before the war, but let us remember that letters are up by 4 per cent., parcels 30 per cent., trunk calls 100 per cent., local calls 35 per cent., and so on. I do not think there is any justification for saying that large-scale economies can be made within the Post Office.

Lastly, I think we get to the point where we have to accept the position of increasing these charges, especially when one considers that such things as local calls escaped the increased telephone charge which was imposed on the private user. I do not think the Opposition will gain very much by parading themselves and pretending to defend the community against a rapacious Post Office or a rapacious Treasury. The actual fact is that when we consider what has been done, these increases are inevitable, much as we may regret them. We hope the Government will be able to stem the outside causes of re-armament, which have caused these increases as well as many others.

9.30 p.m.

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

It was interesting to hear this foreshortened lecture on simplified bookkeeping by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), and the rest of his speech which he devoted to his own distinguished services on the Estimates Committee, but I should like for a few moments to draw attention to page 79, Appendix F, of the Estimates, which will show how well the hon. Member has done his duty to Scotland. Whatever other economies have been achieved elsewhere, Scotland certainly has its full share of them. It will be observed that although the Estimates for postal counter services are up for Scotland, England and Wales, certain items show the industry of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock.

The Scottish Record Office, for example, which had £170 spent upon its postal services in 1950–51, is down to £100 this year. The Scottish Home Department has managed to get £100 more, by an increase of from £3,200 to £3,300, but the Scottish Land Court, which spent £350 last year is, thanks to the effort of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, cut down this year to £100. The Department of the Registers of Scotland spent £200 last year; the hon. Member for Kilmarnock says that they may spend the same this year. The National Galleries for Scotland, however, on page 80 of the Estimate, are shown to have had £50 to spend upon postal services last year. This year, the Estimate is down to £45. In spite of all this, however, as will be seen from page 51, the total postal services for the country are up from £9 to £10 million. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock can at least claim that he has practised a severe economy upon his fellow countrymen.

On referring to the Estimates for the telegraph services we see the Scottish share of the burden which results from the industrious efforts of our parsimonious friend the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, who is the authority upon book-keeping. We learn that the Scottish Land Court, which spent £3 last year, is allowed to spend £20 this year, whilst the Scottish Home Department, which spent £20 during 1950–51, is to be allowed £304 during the coming year. Page 82 shows that in 1950–51, Public Education in Scotland spent nothing whatever upon telegraph services, but that this year—note this extravagance—we are to spend £2. Never was there a more patriotic and parsimonious Scotsman than the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. I draw attention to the fact that the total estimated expenditure on telegraph services is £245,000, yet these small cheeseparing cuts are imposed upon my unfortunate country.

The next item is that of telephone services. Page 83 shows that the Scottish Record Office, which spent £130 last year, is now permitted by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock to spend £190. The hon. Member recovered himself, however, because whereas the Scottish Land Court spent £130 last year, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock now says "You have been overdoing it, gentlemen. It is to be £70 this year." And so we run through this record of endeavours of the hon. Member, for which he claims every possible credit. One item which I criticise is that the National Library for Scotland, compared with the great expenditure which is allowed in England and Wales, following its extravagance last year in spending £50 on telephones, is now being cut down and allowed only £30. The Department for Health for Scotland spent £4,200 last year. This year the Estimate is £3,670. I need not continue further.

Is Scotland to suffer these continuous cuts at the hands of enterprising Scotsmen who are anxious to ingratiate themselves with English Ministers? The hon. Member for Kilmarnock has made an excellent speech. I wondered why he did not speak about carpets last night. I know now that he was reserving his time to speak about the Post Office. He made a good speech, but he could have done a better service for Scotland had he seen that Scotland got at least a fair share of the Estimates and not a parsimonious limitation as compared with the other two countries.

9.35 p.m.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Ness Edwards)

I am sure the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), will have heartened the Committee in more ways than one. They see in his case a clear example where economy is being practised in the use of the postal service, and I hope that when the same economy is practised in Government Departments in other parts of the country we shall have similar jovial protests from other hon. Members.

No one can complain of the tone of the debate. The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison), who led for the Opposition, and whom we have known a very long time, speaks with integrity. One has learned to respect and to listen with care to what he has to say on any of the many subjects on which he has spoken in his very chequered career. But I was surprised that he was chosen for this one. Last time when the matter was before the House, it was his predecessor—

Mr. H. Wallace

I referred to the restoration of what I described as the Postmaster-General's annual report. I have been to the Vote Office and they do not know the document. I am not in a position to say that the Vote Office are wrong, but I have certainly not seen the Postmaster-General's report.

Mr. Ness Edwards

It is quite three months since hon. Members who have been putting down Questions about the Post Office received a circular asking them to apply to the Vote Office on the usual green form for a copy.

I say I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should open the debate tonight. In 1949, when the matter was under discussion, his predecessor, the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) opened for the Opposition.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I am sorry to contradict the right hon. Gentleman, but my right hon. and gallant Friend was my successor, not my predecessor.

Mr. Ness Edwards

That makes the matter all the more comic because last time he spoke on behalf of the Opposition the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whistled the other way. Today his predecessor comes to the Box and whistles in an opposite direction. Then the Postmaster-General was being criticised for having allowed the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make an announcement about increases in postal charges. Tonight the right hon. Gentleman complains that the Postmaster-General has made an announcement about increases in the postal charges. Which way do the Opposition want it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Both."]

There is no definite precedent in this matter. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the practice is that where Post Office tariffs are being increased for purposes of the Budget, the announcement is made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but where the increases are being made for the purpose of Post Office revenue, the announcement is made by the Postmaster-General. What astonishes me is that the right hon. Gentleman came to the Box, not in a white sheet but as if he had never done it himself. In 1940, it is true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced at Budget time a series of proposals to increase charges in the Post Office, but the right hon. Gentleman was the Postmaster-General and in July, after the Budget was over, he came to the House and obtained an increase in the inland parcel rate.

Mr. Morrison

I do not want to prolong this argument. As I explained in my speech, under the Post Office Act, 1908, there is provision for that to be done, but, if the right hon. Gentleman will consult the Act, he will find that the order is made by the Treasury and not by the Postmaster-General.

Mr. Ness Edwards

That is the mechanics of it, but we are talking now about announcements and of the state- ment made in the Committee. I am dealing with the charge that I indulged in what was called a "curtain-raiser Budget" for the purpose of easing the Chancellor's position. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is true."] I am dealing with that charge. If Members feel that that is true, they had better listen first to the arguments.

It would have been easy, if this were a revenue matter, if it were something for the Exchequer, to have said to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "This is your business, not mine," and to have escaped all the lack of popularity attaching to such an announcement. But it had nothing whatever to do with the Exchequer or the Budget. It was due solely to the need for increased revenue in the Post Office. If I could have frozen wages and costs, there would have been no need for any such announcement as that which I made.

Before turning to the general argument, I will deal with one of the points which has been raised. I notice the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing), who has, I take it, also been condemning these increased charges. He has been most assiduous in pressing me to increase charges still further. He has asked me to raise the air-mail rates which we now pay to the Air Corporations. If one is to believe his advocacy tonight, he wishes to increase these rates by about 70 per cent. One cannot indulge in criticisms of the modest increases in charges which I have announced and at the same time advocate an increase of 70 per cent. in a particular charge.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

I made the point that if the right hon. Gentleman collected from the various Government Departments the money due to him, he would then be in a position to do various things, including the paying of a fair rate to the Air Corporations.

Mr. Ness Edwards

The hon. Gentleman obviously does not know the Post Office accounts, or he would not speak in that way. I had better try to clear up this matter so that we can see where we are.

This has been a matter of mystery to the House for a long time. In 1949 we had a great deal of difficulty about it. There is a difference between the cash account and the commercial account. The commercial account provides for credit for services to all Departments of £16,520,000 net. There is also included in it provision for depreciation, interest, pension liability and the value of the stocks consumed. The estimated surplus on the commercial account is £8.4 million. I agree that that is bookkeeping.

Let us consider the cash account; there has been some difficulty about this. As my hon. Friend has already explained, in relation to the cash account, the revenues from the Post Office pass weekly to the Exchequer, and expenditure is taken from the Exchequer. The estimated deficit in the cash account for this year is £881,000. This does not include services given by other Departments to the Post Office to the value of £7,176,000, for which no payment is made, nor does it include the £23,500,000 worth of services that the Post Office provides for other Departments without any payment being made. So there is net against the Post Office £16½ million of free service which it pays, or which it makes, over and above the free service made available to it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Estimated."]—Yes, estimated, I am sorry.

How does this work out? This is where I think much confusion has been caused. In 1946–47 the net deficit was £2,820,000, while the commercial account surplus was £24 million. I could go on giving those figures. The estimate for the present year is £900,000 cash deficit and £8.4 million commercial account surplus. What I ask the Committee to do is to rely upon the commercial account picture as giving the genuine picture of the real financial operations of the Post Office. Once we depart from the commercial account picture, we get a false picture of what is taking place in the Post Office.

What is the sum total of the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman has made to meet the expected diminution, or disappearance, in the commercial account surplus? The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that the Treasury should give a cheque for a certain amount, for this £16½ million, to the other Departments: that those other Departments should hand over £16½ million to the Post Office and that the Post Office should hand it back to the Treasury, and that is regarded as a contribution to be made for the purpose of meeting the additional difficulties that the Post Office might encounter.

Mr. R. V. Grimston

While the right hon. Gentleman is on the accounts—and we want to understand them—I should like to ask for information. Will he explain this figure in the Budget estimate of receipts of £5,400,000? I should like to know how that ties up with this difficulty?

Mr. Ness Edwards

That is the figure of the amount of new cash yield which is expected from the increases announced before the Budget was announced. That is the reason for it, and that clears up the confusion which I thought was in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

So the announcement made on Thursday was in fact part of the Budget?

Mr. Ness Edwards

No. The announcement made on Thursday was not part of the Budget. But the Chancellor was entitled to ask me, "Am I going to have to meet a greater burden in the cash account in the next year than I have met in the last year? What is the burden I have to meet?" I fix my tariff and I tell him what the position is today on the cash account. But let us keep on this question of the commercial account. Some of my hon. Friends—

Mr. Jennings

That is obviously part of the Budget.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Some of my hon. Friends spoke about the necessity for maintaining the commercial account surplus. It is the existence of this commercial account surplus which is causing so much worry and misunderstanding in the minds of many hon. Members. It has been made quite clear that the Post Office on its commercial account ought to have a surplus in order that it should provide to the revenue an amount of money in lieu of taxation which the ordinary industrial and commercial undertaking has to bear. It ought to provide an amount in lieu of the taxation of its vehicles. It ought to provide an amount which would cover all those liabilities of which it is relieved but which the ordinary commercial undertaking has imposed upon it.

Mr. Jennings

That applies to every nationalised industry.

Mr. Ness Edwards

In the Post Office it does not apply. That is the difference. The Post Office does not in fact make a contribution in its commercial accounts. Under the old Bridgeman doctrine, the Post Office surplus ought to be large enough to provide a sum of money in the commercial account to provide for those liabilities of which it has been relieved; and its contribution to the Treasury should be an amount roughly equivalent to the total of those liabilities of which it has been relieved. Hence it is essential, if the Post Office is to carry out its obligation as an ordinary commercial undertaking, that it must retain a surplus in its commercial account.

Let me come to the point about the diminution of the anticipated surplus to £8,400,000. Indication has already been given of the way in which all the costs against the Post Office have gone up. I will give further indications. There is no single item of equipment purchased by the Post Office from any department of industry, or any private employer, which has not gone up by more than three and, in some cases, four times the amount of the increase in Post Office charges. I am sure that the Committee will realise that we cannot insulate the Post Office against the increased costs that are taking place all around it. The costs of all the materials which it buys, and upon which it depends, have increased by far in excess of any of the increases in the charges which we propose.

I will give one example. There has been complaint about the kiosks and the 2d. call. It gives me no pleasure to put up these prices. I had hoped when I went to the Post Office to have been able to secure a downward trend, but private enterprise has thwarted that. If private enterprise had kept its prices down—

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

If the Government had kept the taxes down.

Mr. Ness Edwards

If industry had behaved as well as the employees in the trade unions in the Post Office, who have shown a remarkable amount of restraint, the position would have been different. Post Office wages have gone up by only 8G per cent. since the war. That compares with any of the items on which we spend money. Some have increased by 200 per cent. There has been an increase of 300 per cent. for mail bags and 487 per cent. for string. Of all the items on which the Post Office depends, labour stands out as the one sector of our expenditure which has made a substantial contribution in our attempts to keep down the costs of the service.

Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)

Why have mail bags gone up?

Mr. Ness Edwards

I have only a few minutes left. It will be realised in all parts of the Committee that we must find the extra revenue. That will be accepted. We must meet these costs. This Committee would not thank the Government if we allowed the Post Office to be run at a commercial loss. It is our business to keep the Post Office standing on its own feet and paying its own way. That is our objective in increasing these charges.

When I looked round for sources of new revenue, I had to look at the parts of the service which were making a loss, and I had to consider from where we could obtain increased revenue. Reference has been made to the printed paper rate. On the postal side increased revenue can be raised by one of two means, in particular. We could ask the old age pensioner to pay 3d. postage for his letter, or we could ask the pools people to pay 1½d. postage for their pools. When I am faced with that alternative, I say that, as it is the inland printed paper rate which is now being run at a loss of one halfpenny per item, it ought to carry this additional burden, rather than the cost of that burden being placed upon the 2½d. rate for ordinary letters.

Let me take the telephone service. The telephone charge has stood still at 2d. since 1924, and, if I might say so with all respect, it has been an example to private enterprise on how to keep prices steady. Today, the cost of a telephone kiosk has gone up to such a degree that we are losing so much money on that service that only by charging 3d. can we hope to make the service balance itself and pay for itself. We ought not to ask any other section of the telephone subscribers to subsidise the telephone kiosks. Why should not the telephone kiosk user pay for the cost of its use, rather than place the burden on some other section? The same sort of principle applies throughout these charges which I have imposed.

Here is the position, as I see it. The Committee ought to realise that the Post Office cannot be insulated against the rising prices of the materials which it has to use. Secondly, we must get sufficient revenue by raising the charges to enable the Post Office to stand on its own feet and pay its own way. Thirdly, if we do not want to raise the rates, if we want a cheap postal service at the expense of cheap postmen, we shall soon be in the position of having no postmen at all. The next thing we have to decide is whether those who are most capable of bearing these burdens should be the people who bear them, and I am satisfied that the way in which these charges have been imposed is the right way, that they have been made in the right places and that they are amply justified by the circumstances.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, "That Subhead A.1, Salaries, etc., be reduced by £100."

Question put.

The Committee divided—

Mr. Gerald Williams(seated and covered) (Tonbridge)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Chairman. I heard you call "Lock the doors" when the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Works was in this Chamber and I have just seen him come out of the Lobby. Will you call another Division, or what are you prepared to do?

The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

Were the doors not locked on my order? Will the Serjeant at Arms find out?

THE SERJEANT AT ARMS (BRIGADIER SIR CHARLES HOWARD) said that the Messenger reported to him that Mr. Stokes pushed him out of the way when he was locking the door.

The Deputy-Chairman

The Division will be called again.

Mr. Churchill (seated and covered)

On a point of order. Would it be possible for any hon. Member to make sure the Division had to be taken over again merely by thrusting his way past the ushers?

The Deputy-Chairman

My information is that in this case the right hon. Gentleman thrust his way past the ushers, but he is not here and I cannot disallow his vote without finding out whether that is true or not.

Mr. R. V. Grimston (seated and covered)

Further to that point of order. May I say that I and a number of my hon. Friends saw the incident happen?

Brigadier Prior-Palmer(seated and covered) (Worthing)

On a point of order—

The Deputy-Chairman

May I answer one thing at a time? If the right hon. Gentleman were here I would ask him, but he is not here. I see the right hon. Gentleman entering the Chamber. On a point of order which was raised during the Division it was stated that the right hon. Gentleman forced his way past the Messenger. If that is the case I shall have his vote disallowed. Would he confirm whether that is the case or otherwise?

Mr. Stokes (seated and covered)

Mr. Chairman, I understand that so long as the door is open I may go through it. The door was open and I went through.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer (seated and covered)

On a point of order—

The Deputy-Chairman

Order. I propose to allow the vote tonight, but I shall have the matter inquired into tomorrow. If we are going to push through doors then it will be quite impossible to carry on, and I shall report the matter to Mr. Speaker.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer (seated and covered)

On a point of order. What time elapses between the time when you say "Lock the Doors" and the time when the doors have to be looked?

The Deputy-Chairman

It is a reasonable time. After four minutes after the second call I give the order "Lock the Doors," and the Messenger locks the doors as quickly as he can. It cannot be done at once, but it is done in a reasonable time.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer (seated and covered)

On a point of order. I bumped into the right hon. Gentleman behind the Despatch Box as you were saying "Lock the doors."

The Deputy-Chairman

I think we have settled the point. I shall have to inquire into it.

The figures for the Division were: Ayes, 286; Noes. 294.

Division No. 76.] AYES [7.18 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Keeling, E. H.
Alport, C. J. M. Drayson, G. B. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Amery, Julian (Preston. N.) Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lambert, Hon. G.
Arbuthnot, John Dunglass, Lord Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Duthie, W. S. Langford-Holt, J.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W) Eccles, D. M. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Astor, Hon. M. L. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Leather, E. H. C.
Baker, P. A. D. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Erroll, F. J. Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Baldwin, A. E. Fisher, Nigel Lindsay, Martin
Banks, Col. C. Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Linstead, H. N.
Baxter, A. B. Fort, R. Llewellyn, D.
Bell, R. M. Foster, John Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton)
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Gage, C. H. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)
Birch, Nigel Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Low, A. R. W.
Black, C. W. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Blackburn, A. R. Gammans, L. D. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bossom, A. C. Gales, Maj. E. E. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon O.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McAdden, S. J.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Gridley, Sir Arnold McCallum, Major D.
Boyle, Sir Edward Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Braine, B. R. Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Macdonald, Sir Peter (I, of Wight)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Harden, J. R. E. McKibbin, A.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Maclay, Hon John
Browne, Jack (Govan) Harris, Reader (Heston) Maclean, Fitzroy
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W)
Bullock, Capt. M. Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hay, John Macmillan, Rt. Hon Harold (Bromley)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Head, Brig. A. H. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries)
Butcher, H. W. Heald, Lionel Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Heath, Edward Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Channon, H. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Marples, A. E.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Higgs, J. M. C. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.)
Clyde, J. L. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maude, John (Exeter)
Colegate, A. Hirst, Geoffrey Maudling, R.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Hollis, M. C. Medlicott, Brig. F.
Cooper, Sun. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Mellor, Sir John
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hope, Lord John Molson, A. H. E.
Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Hopkinson, H. L. D'A. Moore, Lt.-Col Sir Thomas
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Cranborne, Viscount Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon Florence Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Crouch, R. F. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Nabarro, G.
Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Nicholls, Harmar
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nicholson, G.
Cundiff, F. W. Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Nield, Basil (Chester)
Cuthbert, W. N. Hurd, A. R. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Hutchison, Lt. Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Nugent, G. R. H.
Davidson, Viscountess Hutchison, Colonel James (Glasgow) Nutting, Anthony
Davies, Nigel (Epping) Hylton-Foster, H. B. Oaksholt, H. D.
de Chair, Somerset Jeffreys, General Sir George Odey, G. W.
De la Bère, R. Jennings, R. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Deedes, W. F. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Ormsby-Gore, Hon W. D.
Digby, S. W. Jones, A. (Hall Green) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Dodds-Parker, A. O. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N)
Donner, P.W. Kaberry, D. Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Osborne, C. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Tilney, John
Peake, Rt. Hon G. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Touche, G. C.
Perkins, W. R. D. Snadden, W. McN Turner, H. F. L.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Soames, Capt. C. Turton, R. H.
Pickthorn, K. Spearman, A. C. M. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Pitman, I. J. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Vane, W. M. F.
Powell, J. Enoch Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Prescott, S. Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde) Vosper, O. F.
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Stevens, G. P. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Profumo, J. D. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Rayner, Brig R. Stoddart-Scott, Col M. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Redmayne, M. Storey, S. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Remnant, Hon. P. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Renton, D. L. M. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Watkinson, H.
Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley) Studholme, H. G. Webbe, Sir Harold
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S) Summers, G. S. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Robson-Brown, W. Sutcliffe, H. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Roper, Sir Harold Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne) Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Ropner, Col. L. Taylor, William (Bradford, N) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Teeling, W. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Teevan, T. L. Wills, G.
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Savory, Prof. D. L. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Scott, Donald Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W) Wood, Hon. R.
Shepherd, William Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth) York, C.
Smiles, Lt.-Col Sir Walter Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Smith, E. Martin (Grantham) Thorp, Brig. R. A. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Drewe and Brigadier Mackeson
Acland, Sir Richard Cullen, Mrs. A. Hamilton, W. W.
Albu, A. H. Daines, P. Hardman, D. R.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hardy, E. A.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hargreaves, A.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Harrison, J.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Davies, Harold (Leek) Hastings, S.
Awbery, S. S. Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Hayman, F. H.
Ayles, W. H. de Freitas, Geoffrey Henderson, Rt. Hon. A (Rowley Regis)
Bacon, Miss Alice Deer, G. Herbison, Miss M.
Baird, J. Delargy, H. J. Hewitson, Capt. M.
Balfour, A. Diamond, J. Hobson, C. R.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Dodds, N. N. Holman, P.
Bartley, P. Donnelly, D. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Driberg, T. E. N. Houghton, D.
Benn, Wedgwood Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Hoy, J.
Benson, G. Dye S. Hubbard, T.
Beswick, F. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Bevan, Rt. hon. A (Ebbw Vale) Edelman, M. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Bing, G. H. C. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Blenkinsop, A. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.)
Blyton, W. R. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Boardman, H. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Booth, A. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Bottomley, A. G. Ewart, R. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Bowden, H. W. Fairhurst, F. Janner, B.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Fernyhough, E. Jay, D. P. T.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Field, Capt. W. J. Jeger, George (Goole)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Finch, H. J. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)
Brooks, T. J. (Normantor) Fletcher, Erie (Islington, E.) Jenkins, R. H.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Follick, M. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Brown, George (Belper) Foot, M. M. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Forman, J. C. Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Burke, W. A. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)
Burton, Miss E. Freeman, John (Watford) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S) Freeman, Peter (Newport) Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)
Callaghan, L. J. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Keenan, W.
Carmichael, J. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Kenyon, C.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Gibson, C. W. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Champion, A. J. Gilzean, A. King, Dr. H. M.
Chetwynd, G. R. Glanville, James (Consett) Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E.
Clunie, J. Gooch, E. G. Kinley, J.
Cocks, F. S. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon P. C. Lang, Gordon
Coldrick, W. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Collick, P. Grenfell, D. R. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Collindridge, F. Grey, C. F. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Cook, T. F. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Cooper, John (Deptford) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham) Griffiths, William (Exchange) Lewis, John (Bolton, W.)
Cove, W. G. Gunter, R. J. Lindgren, G. S.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Crawley, A. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Logan, D. G.
Crosland, C. A. R. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Longden, Fred (Small Heath)
Crossman, R. H. S. Hall, Rt-Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) McAllister, G.
MacColl, J. E. Paton, J. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
McGhee, H. G. Pearson, A. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
McGovern, J. Peart, T. F. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
McInnes, J. Poole, C. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Mack, J. D. Popplewell, E. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
McKay, John (Wallsend) Porter, G. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Thurtle, Ernest
McLeavy, F. Proctor, W. T. Timmons, J.
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Pryde, D. J. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon G.
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Tomney, F.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Rankin, J. Turner-Samuels, M.
Mainwaring, W. H. Rees, Mrs. D. Usborne, H.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Reeves, J. Vernon, W. F.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Viant, S. P.
Mann, Mrs. Jean Reid, William (Camlachie) Wallace, H. W.
Manuel, A. C. Rhodes, H. Watkins, T. E.
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Richards, R. Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford. C.)
Mathers, Rt, Hon. G. Robens, A. Weitzman, D.
Mellish, R. J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Messer, F. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wells, William (Walsall)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) West, D. G.
Mitchison, G. R. Rogers, George (Kensington, N) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Moeran, E. W. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Monslow, W. Royle, C. While, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Moody, A. S. Shackleton, E. A. A. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Wigg, G.
Morley, R. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Shurmer, P. L. E. Willey, Frederick(Sunderland)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S) Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Mort, D. L. Simmons, C. J. Williams, David (Neath)
Moyle, A. Slater, J. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Mulley, F. W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Murray, J. D. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S) Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Nally, W. Snow, J. W. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Sorensen, R. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C)
Oldfield, W. H. Sparks, J. A. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Oliver, G. H. Steele, T. Wise, F. J.
Orbach, M. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Padley, W. E. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Woods, Rev. G. S.
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Yates, V. F.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Younger, Hon. K.
Pannell, T. C. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Pargiter, G. A. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Parker, J. Sylvester, G. O. Mr. Hannan and Mr. Wilkins.
Division No. 77.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Alport, C. J. M. Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N) Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwel Macdonald, Sir Peter (I of Wight)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverlon) Gage, C. H. McKibbin, A.
Arbuthnot, John Galbraith, Cmdr T. D. (Pollok) McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Maclay, Hon. John
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Gammans, L. D. Maclean, Fitzroy
Astor, Hon. M. L. Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W)
Baker, P. A. D. Gates, Maj. E. E. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. George, Lady Megan Lloyd Macmillan, Rt. Hon Harold (Bromley)
Baldwin, A. E. Glyn, Sir Ralph Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Banks, Col. C. Gomme-Duncan, Col A. Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Baxter, A. B. Gridley, Sir Arnold Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Bell, R. M. Grimond, J. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Marples, A. E.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Harden, J. R. E. Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.)
Birch, Nigel Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Maude, John (Exeter)
Black, C. W. Harris, Reader (Heston) Maudling, R.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Medlicott, Brig. F.
Bossom, A. C. Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S. Mellor, Sir John
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Hay, John Molson, A. H. E.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Head, Brig. A. H. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas
Boyle, Sir Edward Heald, Lionel Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Braine, B. Heath, Edward Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Henderson, John (Cathcart) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Higgs, J. M. C. Nabarro, G.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Nicholls, Harmar
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Nicholson, G.
Bullock, Capt. M. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Nield, Basil (Chester)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hirst, Geoffrey Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Hollis, M. C. Nugent, G. R. H.
Butcher, H. W. Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Nutting, Anthony
Butler, Rt. Hon. R.A. (Saffron Walden) Hope, Lord John Oakshott, H. D.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hopkinson, H. L. D'A. Odey, G. W.
Channon, H. Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N)
Clyde, J. L. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Colegate, A. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Osborne, C.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Peake, Rt. Hon O.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Perkins, W. R. D.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hurd, A. R. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Pickthorn, K.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Pitman, I. J.
Cranborne, Viscount Hutchison, Colonel James (Glasgow) Powell, J. Enoch
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hylton-Foster, H. B. Prescott, S.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Jeffreys, General Sir George Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Crouch, R. F. Jennings, R. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Profumo, J. D.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Jones, A. (Hall Green) Rayner, Brig. R.
Cundift, F. W. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Redmayne, M.
Cuthbert, W. N. Kaberry, D. Remnant, Hon. P.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Keeling, E. H. Renton, D. L. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (M'ntg'mery) Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)
Davies, Nigel (Epping) Lambert, Hon. G. Robson-Brown, W.
de Chair, Somerset Lancaster, Col. C. G. Roper, Sir Harold
De la Bère, R. Langford-Holt, J. Ropner, Col. L.
Deedes, W. F. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Digby, S. W. Leather, E. H. C. Salter, Rt. Hon Sir Arthur
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Dormer, P. W. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M. Lindsay, Martin Savory, Prof. D. L.
Linstead, H. N. Scott, Donald
Drayson, G. B. Llewellyn, D. Shepherd, William
Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Dunglass, Lord Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Duthie, W. S. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Eccles, D. M. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Snadden, W. McN
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Low, A. R. W. Soames, Capt. C.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Spearman, A. C. M.
Erroll, F. J. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Stanley, Capt Hon Richard (N. Fylde)
Fort, R. McAdden, S. J. Stevens, G. P.
Foster, John McCallum, Major D. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Stewart, Henderson (File E) Thornton-Kemsley, Col C. N. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Stoddart-Scott, Col M. Thorp, Brig. R. A. F. Watkinson, H.
Storey, S. Tilney, John Webbe, Sir Harold
Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Touche, G. C. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Turner, H. F. L. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Studholme, H. G. Turton, R. H. Williams. Charles (Torquay)
Summers, G. S. Tweedsmuir, Lady Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Sutcliffe, H. Vane, W. M. F. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K. Wills, G.
Taylor, William (Bradford N) Vosper, D. F. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Teeling, W. Wade, D. W. Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
Teevan, T. L. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W) Wood, Hon R.
Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone) York, C.
Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth) Mr. Drewe and Brigadier Mackeson.
Acland, Sir Richard Dodds, N. N. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Albu, A. H. Donnelly, D. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Driberg, T. E. N. Janner, B.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Jay, D. P. T.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Dye, S. Jeger, George (Goole)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)
Awbery, S. S. Edelman, M. Jenkins, R. H.
Ayles, W. H. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Johnson, James (Rugby)
Bacon, Miss Alice Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Baird, J. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Balfour, A. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Bartley, P. Ewart, R. Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Fairhurst, F. Keenan, W.
Benn, Wedgwood Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, C.
Benson, G. Field, Capt. W. J. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Beswick, F. Finch, H. J. King, Dr. H. M.
Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale) Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Kinghorn, Son Ldr. E.
Bing, G. H. C. Follick, M. Kinley, J.
Blenkinsop, A. Foot, M. M. Lang, Gordon
Blyton, W. R. Forman, J. C. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Boardman, H. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Booth, A. Freeman, John (Watford) Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Bottomley, A. G. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Bowden, H. W. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Lewis, John (Bolton, W)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Gibson, C. W. Lindgren, G. S.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Gilzean, A. Lipton, Lt.-Col M.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Glanville, James (Consert) Logan, D. G.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Gooch. E. G. Longden, Fred (Small Heath)
Brown, George (Belper) Gordon-Walker, Rt Hon P. C. McAllister, G.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) MacColl, J. E.
Burke, W. A. Grenfell, D. R. McGhee, H. G.
Burton, Miss E. Grey, C. F. McGovern, J.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McInnes, J.
Callaghan, L. J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mack, J. D.
Carmichael, J. Griffiths, William (Exchange) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Gunter, R. J. Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading. N.)
Champion, A. J. Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) McLeavy, F.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)'
Clunie, J. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Cooks, F. S. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coins Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Coldrick, W. Hamilton, W. W. Mainwaring, W. H.
Collick, P. Hannan, W. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Collindridge, F. Hardman, D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Cook, T. F. Hardy, E. A. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Hargreaves, A. Manuel, A. C.
Cooper, John (Deptford) Harrison, J. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham) Hastings, S. Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
Cove, W. G. Hayman, F. H. Mellish, R. J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Messer, F.
Crawley, A. Herbison, Miss M. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Crosland, C. A. R. Hewitson, Capt. M. Mitchison, G. R.
Crossman, R. H. S. Hobson, C. R. Moeran, E. W.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Holman, P. Monslow, W.
Dairies, P. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Moody, A. S.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Houghton, D. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hoy, J. Morley, R.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hubbard, T. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, S.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Mort, D. L.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, A.
Deer, G. Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.) Mulley, F. W.
Delargy, H. J. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Mulvey, A.
Diamond, J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Murray, J. T.
Nally, W. Royle, C. Vernon, W. F.
Neat, Harold (Bolsover) Shackleton, E. A. A. Viant, S. P.
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Wallace, H. W.
Oldfield, W. H. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Watkins, T. E.
Oliver, G. H. Shurmer, P. L. E. Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Orbach, M. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Weitzman, D.
Padley, W. E. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Walls, Percy (Faversham)
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Simmons, C. J. Wells, William (Walsall)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Slater, J. West, D. G.
Pannell, T. C. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Pargiter, G. A. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Parker, J. Snow, J. W. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Paton, J. Sorensen, R. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.
Peart, T. F. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wigg, G.
Poole, C. Steele, T. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Popplewell, E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Wilkins, W. A.
Porter, G. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Proctor, W. T. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Williams, David (Neath)
Pryde, D. J. Stross, Dr. Barnett Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Rankin, J. Sylvester, G. O. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Rees, Mrs. D. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Reeves, J. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Thomas, David (Aberdare) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Reid, William (Camlachie) Thomas, George (Cardiff) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Rhodes, H. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W) Wise, F. J.
Richards, R. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.
Robens, A. Thurtle, Ernest Woods, Rev. G. S.
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Timmons, J. Yates, V. F.
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Younger, Hon. K.
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Panoras, N.) Tomney, F.
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Turner-Samuels, M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Usborne, H. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks.

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Ten o'Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress: to sit again Tomorrow.