HC Deb 18 December 1962 vol 669 cc1071-4
31. Mr. Millan

asked the Postmaster-General how many scientists, skilled technicians, semi-skilled technicians, and unskilled men and women are employed at the Post Office Engineering Laboratory at Dollis Hill; and how many of these are on the permanent staff of his Department.

Miss Pike

The staff of the Dollis Hill Research Station numbers 1,306, of whom 1,075 are established staff.

Post Office gradings do not readily fit the categories listed in the Question; but I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT an analysis which will, I hope, meet the hon. Member's needs.

Mr. Millan

Is it not clear from that Answer that this is a very large research establishment, and just the kind of thing we want in Scotland or in other development areas? Is the hon. Lady aware that the argument of administrative inconvenience is precisely the argument used by private industry? If the Government will not set an example, how can they possibly expect private industry to co-operate with them in their distribution of industry policy?

Miss Pike

I do not think that there is anything I can usefully add to my Answer to the previous Question.

Following is the analysis:

Total Established Staff
Directing Staff 3 3
Scientific Officer Class 57 49
Assistants (Scientific) 52 18
Experimental Officer Class 92 86
Professional Engineering Grades 166 159
Assistant Engineers 145 145
Drawing Office Staff 76 70
Technical Officers 255 255
Technicians 205 174
Youths-in-Training 45 0
Assistant Telephone Mechanics 43 13
Executive, Clerical, Typing, etc. Staff 92 55
Others 75 48
1,306 1,075

32. Mr. Ross

asked the Postmaster-General what consultations he has had with the Post Office Advisory Council on the removal of the research laboratory from Dollis Hill.

Miss Pike

None. Sir.

Mr. Ross

But would it not have been a good idea to have had a discussion with the Advisory Council, which is a cross-section of persons all over the country, to see whether or not the best possible site for the new laboratory was where the Minister intends to have it? Does she not think that it would have been far better to have had that very thin argument of hers looked at by these business men and representative persons, because it just does not work?

Miss Pike

This, of course, is a matter of internal organisation, and it has never been customary to discuss this with the Advisory Council. But I would add that it is not the business people whom we wish to be near. We wish to keep our research staff and development staff close together, and that is the necessity for having our research station near our headquarters.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Whilst I would not, perhaps, go all the way with my hon. Friends in regard to the transfer to which reference has been made, is it not clear from the many Questions to the hon. Lady and to her right hon. Friend on the Order Paper today, that many of us on this side feel that the Post Office can take some very effective steps, during these critical days in some of the depressed areas, by making quite sure that the experimental work at Dollis Hill is distributed more evenly—in Scotland, the North-East and in other parts—instead of being concentrated in some of the more progressive and prosperous areas, as it is now? I cannot subscribe to some of the suggestions made, but I feel that the Post Office can do very much more effective work than it is doing at present.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Lady has said that this is not the kind of thing that this Council would discuss. Can she tell me what kind of thing it would discuss; and how often it has met since the right hon. Gentleman became Postmaster-General?

Miss Pike

The sort of things we discuss are the sort of policy issues which concern the customer, in particular. I am afraid that, offhand, I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the number of times it has met since my right hon. Friend was appointed to his present position.