§ 13. Mr. Peter Walker
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the delays that have taken place in recent months in respect of the delivery of letters from the Continent; and what action he is taking to improve this situation.
§ 16. Mr. Ian Gilmour
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the harm done to the export drive by the late delivery of letters from the Continent; and what action he is taking to speed up the delivery of mail from the Continent.
§ Mr. Joseph Slater
I am sorry that, during the earlier part of the winter, there was some delay in the delivery of letters from Europe. There has been an improvement lately which my right hon. Friend hopes to maintain. If either of 1046 the hon. Gentlemen has experience of recent delays and will let me have details we shall gladly look into the matter.
§ Mr. Walker
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been delays of between seven and 10 days in some of these letters and that an examination of the postmarks tends to show that there is a build-up towards the end of the week in London, which is then released over the weekend? Will he see whether there is any unnecessary build-up towards the weekend?
§ Mr. Slater
We are prepared to look at anything which will improve the service. In general, mail from Germany has not been more liable to delay than from any other European countries. There is no reason why letters from Germany in particular should not be dealt with as expeditiously as those from other countries.
§ Mr. Gilmour
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is general concern amongst those who have to communicate with Europe and that, among other bodies, the Foreign Press Association has received a number of complaints about it?
§ Mr. Slater
Yes, Sir. Last autumn, there was considerable delay to mail from the Continent, mainly due to staff shortages. Recently there have been material improvements in delivery times generally, but there are some places where staffing difficulties are still being experienced.
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
Is this not yet another example of the failure of a nationalised industry, which is providing worse service at increased cost? Can the hon. Gentleman answer that?
§ Mr. Slater
I am surprised to hear that supplementary question from the hon. Gentleman in view of his long period of service in the House and the number of answers to Questions during that period given by Ministers of this Department.