HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc404-5
26. Mr. Hunt

asked the Postmaster-General what was the total cost of General Post Office recruiting advertisements inserted in the two London evening newspapers during 1965.

Mr. Benn


Mr. Hunt

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is advertising on a very lavish and extravagant scale? Is he aware that I have here an advertisement which gives such fascinating but totally irrelevant information as the hip, waist and bust measurements of potential post office counter clerks? Is not all this a gross waste of public money?

Mr. Benn

It is an extremely expensive campaign, but it is absolutely essential to maintain the services in London. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the complaints that are made about the postal services arise almost invariably because of shortage of staff. This last year we have reduced the vacancies amongst postmen from over 1,600 to 893. We have held our own with telephonists, many of whom leave us, but we are very short of counter clerks.

Mr. Frank Allaun

In view of this successful response, will the Postmaster-General consider why the Post Office is not advertising in the Sunday Citizen? Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House are surprised that the Government, while advertising in a London newspaper, are not prepared to advertise in a Labour paper which has a national coverage?

Mr. Benn

The problem about this particular advertising campaign is that it is confined to London. The Sunday Citizen, like other newspapers, has been used for other national advertising.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

How can the right hon. Gentleman's Department expect to get the recruits which it requires when its excellent and loyal post office workers are overworked and underpaid?

Mr. Benn

I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentlemen's supplementary question will appear in the appropriate staff magazines, but it is a fact that, given the present shortage of staff, we have no alternative but to advertise. We had a campaign on television last July which was successful but more expensive per recruit than a Press campaign.