HC Deb 13 July 1960 vol 626 cc1383-4
36. Mr. Parkin

asked the Postmaster-General what steps he is considering to increase the remuneration of sub-postmasters.

Miss Pike

The expenses of running scale payment sub-offices are being reviewed with the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, but it is too soon to say what the outcome will be.

Mr. Parkin

While welcoming that reply, may I ask the hon. Lady to consider as a matter of urgency the problem which arises as a result of the great increase in property values in some towns, particularly in the centre of London, where the square footage of a shop let at a modern rent has to earn its living and where fewer shopkeepers feel able to take the responsibility of being sub-postmasters, too? If they did not do this, it would be a very serious blow to the amenities as well as to the working of the Welfare State arrangements, which depend to some extent upon the Post Office.

Miss Pike

I assure the hon. Member that all those considerations will be taken into account.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that if these sub-postmasters can be regarded as living on small fixed incomes, they come within the category of the Prime Minister's pledge? Will she bear that in mind in the negotiations, which we hope will be successful?

Miss Pike

All those considerations are already being taken into account.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Will the hon. Lady keep it in mind that the House will look with scant regard upon the Treasury if there is any delay in these negotiations? That is the bugbear which always faces the Post Office in these matters.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my hon. Friend aware that, apart from the remuneration, many sub-postmasters are suffering very grave staffing problems? Will she do her best to see that they are helped as far as humanly possible to solve these problems, otherwise there is a considerable danger that many sub-post offices will have to shut down?

Miss Pike

I recognise the difficulties of sub-post offices, but one of my personal difficulties is that more and more people are always applying to open sub-post offices.