HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1622-4
15. Mr. Worsley

asked the Postmaster-General at what offices he is experimenting with a reorganisation of counter duties based on counter staff handling all types of business.

Mr. Bevins

Trials at Walsall, Watford and Weston-super-Mare were started earlier this year. They have lately started at a further thirteen offices including Brentwood, Clacton-on-Sea, Folkestone, Neath, Newark, Pontypool, Southall, Weymouth and York. Arrangements are now under way for them to begin at a further eleven offices. I am circulating the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Worsley

Can my right hon. Friend give any indication of the reaction of the general public to the new arrangements when using these offices?

Mr. Bevins

So far, the general reaction of the public has been very favourable indeed. I hope that we shall reach final conclusions on this changed method of working by the autumn. I am satisfied that, with the loyal cooperation of the Post Office staffs, we shall be able to make a substantial improvement in Post Office services

Mr. W. R. Williams

Whilst I have no objection whatever to the Post Office experimenting at all times to improve the service, may I ask whether the Postmaster-General is aware that, after a fairly long association with duties of this sort, I am inclined to the opinion that complete non-specialisation will in the long run be a bad thing for the Post Office and for the customer? I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman two supplementary questions. At the end of the experimental period, will he give serious consideration to the point which I am putting, because I put it in good faith? Secondly, has the right hon. Gentleman had any firm estimate yet of what would be the additional cost, for instance, in balancing time and so on, if his scheme of complete non-specialisation is introduced?

Mr. Bevins

I cannot give an exact figure of what this change in our method of working will amount to, but I should say off the cuff that it will probably cost at least £¼ million a year. If, however, as I believe, by means of spending this money we can succeed in doing away with queues in post offices, it will be money well spent. I will certainly take note of the general considerations to which the hon. Member has referred.

Following is the List:

Head Offices

Branch Offices

Salaried Offices