HC Deb 14 April 1964 vol 693 cc214-5
15. Mr. Holt

asked the Postmaster-General what would be the weekly extra cost to his Department of meeting the wage demands of the postmen over and above what he has already offered them; and what estimate he has made of the probable cost to the Post Office of the threatened one-day token strike and fortnight's ban on overtime.

Mr. Bevins

The Union of Post Office Workers has made no specific claim on behalf of postmen, although they clearly hope for more than 4 per cent. this year. As to the second part of the Question, the effects of strike action are too unpredictable for me to estimate how much it would cost the Post Office. I am hoping anyway that such action can be avoided.

16. Mr. Holt

asked the Postmaster-General, in view of the rejection by the postmen of the terms of a solution to the dispute proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and bearing in mind the need to maintain the good labour relations in the Post Office service, if he will now agree to accept the postmen's request for an interim rise and an inquiry into their wage level in relation to other comparable occupations.

Mr. Bevins

As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I made a further proposal to the union yesterday. We have discussed it with it this morning. We are very much hoping that the union will accept this proposal.

Mr. Holt

Is the Postmaster-General aware that everyone will be relieved if the Government's initiative results in a peaceful settlement of this dispute? In that event, may I ask why the Government did not agree to this inquiry right at the beginning? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government have gained no credit from the way in which they have handled this dispute with an essentially peaceable body of men?

Mr. Bevins

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's appreciation of the situation is anything like accurate. I think that the House will agree with me that, certainly at this stage, it would be most unwise to add to what I have said.