HC Deb 14 April 1964 vol 693 cc210-3
9. Mr. Box

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is satisfied that the removal of the head office of the Post Office Savings Bank to Glasgow will not mean that all the money deposited is deemed to be located in Scotland, and that if anyone subsequently dies leaving money in the Post Office Savings Bank and probate or letters of administration are obtained in England or Wales, the grant will not have to be revealed in the Scottish court before the money can be distributed; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Bevins

I am advised that there is no reason why the removal of the principal administrative office of the Bank to Glasgow should have the result which my hon. Friend suggests. At present the Bank pays out the deposits of a deceased person to a personal representative producing a grant issued in any part of the United Kingdom without requiring any grant to be resealed and it will continue to do so after the move to Glasgow.

Mr. Box

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply will be received with great relief by trustees, executors, and legal advisers throughout England, and not least by those Welsh investors who do not relish the thought of having their savings in the hands of a country like Scotland—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—which is so backward that it does not recognise the legal existence of Wales? Will he give the widest possible publicity to his reply so that investors may not be discouraged from increasing their savings in the future?

Mr. Bevins

The answer to my hon. Friend is, generally speaking, yes, although I must confess that I have inordinate difficulty in understanding what this is all about.

14. Mr. Randall

asked the Postmaster-General if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the factors which conditioned his approach to, and his breakdown of, the merits and demerits of Glasgow, Liverpool and Tees-side as places put on the short list for the dispersal of the Post Office Savings Bank from London, as given to the staff side of the Post Office Departmental Whitley Council.

Mr. Bevins

The main factors were: a sizeable location right away from London with high unemployment, an adequate supply of local staff, good housing and educational facilities, and adequate communications with other parts of the country.

Mr. Randall

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the operational requirements did favour Tees-side, and can he explain why it was that at the joint discussions with the staff side, at which the national factor was introduced, he completely ignored the views of the staff side? Does he not regard this as imperilling staff consultation, particularly in the field of Whitleyism, which has gone on for so many years without any great difficulties?

Mr. Bevins

I agree, as I have said to the hon. Gentleman before, that Tees-side offered many advantages both to the staff and to the Bank, and I agree that Glasgow did have disadvantages in some respects, but the really decisive factor here was the high level of unemployment in Glasgow at 5.2 per cent. as compared with 3.9 per cent. on Tees-side, and the 5.2 per cent. represented a far greater number of people.

22. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Postmaster-General what further representations he has now received from interested parties about his decision to transfer the Post Office Savings Bank to Glasgow in preference to Tees-side.

Mr. Bevins

I would refer the hon. Member to my Answer to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) on 7th April. I have also had representations from hon. Members and others on behalf of certain local authorities which are disappointed with the choice of Glasgow, and also on behalf of a few individual members of the Savings Bank staff.

Mr. Fernyhough

Does not the Postmaster-General think that it is very undesirable what has happened in this case should happen in the future? Is it not wrong that high hopes should be built up in a locality that a service of this kind will be stationed there and those high hopes should then be disappointed? Would he not agree that, in addition to a long list of reasons which he has given this afternoon for the Post Office Savings Bank going to Glasgow in preference to Tees-side, there is one more outstanding reason, and that is that there are more marginal seats in Glasgow than there are on Tees-side?

Mr. Bevins

It is, of course, perfectly understandable that there should be disappointment on Tees-side, and, indeed, in other parts of the country, but not at any time did I give any indication that I or my colleagues in the Government had come down in favour of Tees-side. I can certainly disabuse the hon. Gentleman's mind about the decision being a political one. If one thinks in terms of marginal seats, the Post Office Savings Bank would have gone to Liverpool.

Mr. Baxter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the people of Scotland, and particularly the people of Glasgow, are very well satisfied with his decision? May I on behalf of them congratulate him on having had the courage of his convictions and done something sensible and wise in Scotland?

23. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Postmaster-General what assessment he made of the cost of transferring the Post Office Savings Bank to Glasgow and to Tees-side respectively.

Mr. Bevins

None, Sir. Any difference in the relative costs would not really be a material factor.