HC Deb 07 March 1951 vol 485 cc415-6
13. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Postmaster-General how many ex-employees of Cable and Wireless, Limited, are now receiving in his service lower total remuneration than that received when the service was under private enterprise.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Ness Edwards)

Up to 1947, members of Cable and Wireless, Limited, received a variable bonus, related to the company's profits, which was not reckoned for pension or for overtime rates. This bonus was consolidated with pay from 1st January, 1947, under an agreement negotiated between the company and the staff associations concerned. None of the company's staff transferred to the Post Office on 1st April, 1950, receives less than his normal pay at the time of transfer. Extra earnings for Sunday duty and overtime are, of course, largely dependent on day-to-day conditions.

Mr. Shepherd

Is that answer designed to conceal the fact that the employees do not now receive as much remuneration under State ownership as they did when they were employed by Cable and Wireless?

Mr. Ness Edwards

No, Sir, the answer is designed to give the facts and the consequences of an agreement which was freely negotiated between both sides.

Mr. Shepherd

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that taking into account the bonus, which is an essential part of their earnings, the men are receiving today from his Department what they previously received from Cable and Wireless?

Mr. Ness Edwards

No, Sir, what I am saying is that some may receive more and some may receive less, but we are paying what is provided for under a freely negotiated agreement.

Mr. Marlowe

Now that the right hon. Gentleman has answered the Question, contrasting wages under private enterprise and in a nationalised industry, does he agree that Cable and Wireless is now a nationalised industry?

Mr. Ness Edwards

That is an entirely different matter. Cable and Wireless was divided into several parts and an independent company has been formed with a limited charter. It cannot be described as a nationalised undertaking.

Mr. R. V. Grimston

Was not an undertaking given at the time of the takeover that none of the employees would be worse off under the new scheme? Does not the Postmaster-General's answer imply that that undertaking has not been carried out?

Mr. Ness Edwards

If that undertaking has not been carried out, we should have heard from the trade union associations before now. So far, we have had no representations.