HC Deb 14 May 1958 vol 588 cc387-9
15. Mr. Collins

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that delays in the receipt and delivery of mails are frequently occurring in London, E.C.1, E.C.2 and E.2 postal districts; and what are his proposals for restoring a normal service.

Mr. K. Thompson

I regret that there have been delays to the mails in London, but the delivery services in these areas are now much better and in the past few days they have been made at normal times. We are doing all we can to overcome the remaining difficulties.

Mr. Collins

Whilst welcoming the Minister's Answer, may I ask whether he is aware that the trouble arose because in some offices minor concessional reliefs were mistakenly regarded as having been cancelled by the package deal? Will the bon. Gentleman take all possible steps to clear away any misunderstanding that still exists? Is he aware that the Union of Post Office Workers has called on its members, in the most explicit terms, to honour the agreement and to assist to the full in the restoration of postal services to their full efficiency?

Mr. Thompson

Yes. We have had the fullest co-operation from the Union of Post Office Workers in this matter and we are working hard to get any remaining difficulties removed.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not this an occasion when the hon. Gentleman might pay tribute to the General Secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers for the very strong stand he has taken for the adherence of the employees to the terms of the agreement?

Mr. Thompson

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for repeating what I said.

Mr. H. Morrison

Can the hon. Gentleman say what this trouble was about? Perhaps I have missed something, but I have not noticed any explanation of how the difficulty arose and what it is all about. Is not it time that the House was told, if it has not already been told?

Mr. Thompson

I will gladly give the House information on the subject. There is nothing secret or mysterious about it. As a result of the new conditions of service and the new wage rates that were negotiated some time ago, certain changes were made in the schedules of duties of a lot of the postal staffs all over the country. The agreement has been honoured in the letter and the spirit extremely well throughout the country, with the exception of two or three London offices, where there have been difficulties because some of the employees felt that they were at a disadvantage as a result of the change. We are dealing with their viewpoints as they arise.

21. Mr. du Cann

asked the Postmaster-General whether the delays in the delivery of mail owing to an unofficial go-slow in certain post offices in London are still continuing; what action he proposes to take to avoid similar dislocation of services in future; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. K. Thompson

I am glad there has been an improvement and deliveries are now going out at normal hours. A special air service has been introduced between London Airport and Birmingham to reduce the delay caused by the re-routing to Birmingham of some letters from overseas.

Mr. du Cann

Will not my hon. Friend agree that this severe public dislocation has been caused in spite of both the extremely fair attitude adopted by the G.P.O. and the responsible attitude adopted by the trade union concerned? Will my hon. Friend therefore say whether this dislocation has been the work of just a few agitators and, if so, whether he proposes to retain them in the postal service?

Mr. Thompson

It is our job on the side of administration to see that we abide by our part of the bargain that was negotiated, and we expect the employees to abide by their side of the bargain in the spirit and in the letter.