HC Deb 13 July 1960 vol 626 cc1384-5
37. Mr. Parkin

asked the Postmaster-General how many sub-offices in Paddington have recently closed; and what steps he is taking to replace them.

Miss Pike

One in Elgin Avenue, W.9, in December, 1959, and another, in Connaught Street, W.2, this month. We are advertising the vacancies extensively and canvassing the areas.

Mr. Parkin

Cannot the Minister put some sense of urgency into this? Is she not aware that this has been a matter of great concern in Paddington for some time and that she and the Postmaster-General have had large numbers of representations from private citizens? They have had petitions, and representations from the borough council and elsewhere. Will they not recognise that the difficulty in finding substitutes for those that are closing down underlines the necessity of looking again at the remuneration of sub-postmasters?

Does not the hon. Lady also recognise that the failure to find a grocer to carry on the job does not discharge the Minister's responsibility? The mere fact that he has advertised does not alter the fact that he is unable to give proper post office coverage in Paddington, and if he cannot get it in shops will he get it in Crown Offices?

Mr. Speaker

I must ask of the hon. Member some indulgence for the House. This is very long.

Miss Pike

I do recognise the seriousness of this problem in Paddington, but I assure the hon. Member that it is not typical of the London area as a whole, and it certainly is not borne out by our experience in the country as a whole. In 23,000 sub-offices we have about 200 vacancies a month, most of which are very quickly filled. However, I recognise the special difficulties of this area.