HC Deb 17 November 1964 vol 702 cc182-4
23. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Postmaster-General what was the profit from telecommunications for the year ended March, 1964, and what profit is forecast for the following year; what was the loss on the postal services for the year ended March, 1964, and what result is forecast for the following year; what increase in wages and salaries will occur during the year; and what the recent wages award to postmen will cost in a full year.

25. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Postmaster-General how much of the projected loss in the postal services is due to the increased wages award for Post Office workers announced by the last Government.

28. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Postmaster-General what was the profit of the Post Office for last year; what is his estimate of outturn for this year; how much of this profit was made on telecommunications services; and what contribution is being made to the Exchequer.

Mr. Benn

In the financial year ending March, 1964, the profit from telecommunications was £39 million; the loss on postal services was £8 million. Estimates for the current year show a profit on telecommunications of £34 million; a loss on postal services of £16 million. The recent wages award to postmen will cost £6.7 million in a full year. I cannot yet say what, if any, other increases will be agreed in the current year. The payments to the Exchequer under Section 2 of the 1961 Post Office Act in lieu of taxation amounted to £..7 million in 1963–64.

Mr. Cooke

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree, however, that the loss on the postal services in the year 1963–64 was less than in 1962–63 and that the difficulties in which he now finds himself are largely, if not entirely, due to the substantial wage award made to postmen? Would he bear that in mind?

Mr. Benn

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has got this wrong. The postal services have accumulated a growing deficit. The estimates for this deficit show a likelihood of it growing still further without regard to this particular increase, and that is the problem which confronts the House and the Government.

Mr. Lewis

Will the right hon. Gentleman now admit that the other day when he announced in the House the losses on the postal services he was really being too clever by about 6 per cent., because he must have known, and must make clear, that although we accept that wage increases come, the public has to be made to understand that when wage increases are made they have to be paid for?

Mr. Benn

The estimates about the future profitability and financial return of postal services to meet the target of 8 per cent. laid down by the previous Government revealed a shortfall of exactly the kind that I described, of the exact size that I described, last week. Any further questions about what happened last summer should be addressed elsewhere—

Hon. Members


Mr. Wingfield Digby

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether the 3d. post is running at a profit or a loss?

Mr. Benn

That is the subject of another Question.