§ 11.9 a.m
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. Joseph Slater)
I beg to move,That the Postmaster General be authorised, as provided for in Section 5 of the Post Office Act, 1961, to make payments out of the Post Office Fund in the financial year ending with the 31st March, 1967.It might be for the convenience of the House, Mr. Speaker, if, with this Motion, we discussed the next Motion on the Order Paper standing in the name of my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Slater
As the House knows, these Motions are normally taken later in the month of March, but they have been brought forward because of the impending Dissolution. It is essential that they be passed before Dissolution if the Post Office services are to be carried on after 1st April.
My right hon. Friend is sorry that because the debate has been brought forward hon. Members have had little time to consider the annual White Paper on Post Office Prospects, which was published yesterday. I do not intend to trouble the House with anything further, but invite the House to pass these essential Motions. If, however, there are any matters which hon. Members care to raise, my right hon. Friend will be glad to answer them.
§ 11.11 a.m.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
We on this side of the House give a fair wind to these proposals. Naturally, in this vast and important part of the national services, the money is required for the Post Office service and we quite understand why the Motions have been brought forward.
It may be that the Postmaster-General is like others who were caught off their feet by the speed of the announcement of the impending General Election, but I should have liked to see the White Paper in the Vote Office rather earlier. It was not until 10 minutes ago that I realised it was there. It may have been there yesterday or this morning. From a brief look through it, I think there is nothing very revolutionary about it. It admits 1651 that there are still several services running at a substantial loss. I shall not overdo that, but merely say that within the functions of the Post Office it is the duty of the Postmaster-General to weigh up the various way in which he will decide which are the loss leaders and how far those which make money should carry those loss leaders.
I do not think we shall learn very much from this While Paper which we do not know already. I am glad that the Postmaster-General has abstained from producing any particular election gimmick at the last moment from what I would call the rather mundane operations of this important part of the national services.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the Postmaster General be authorised, as provided for in Section 5 of the Post Office Act, 1961, to make payments out of the Post Office Fund in the financial year ending with the 31st March, 1967.
That the limit of the Postmaster General's indebtedness to the Exchequer under Section 10(2) of the Post Office Act, 1961, as amended by Section 1 of the Post Office (Borrowing Powers) Act, 1964, be increased from one thousand one hundred and twenty million pounds to one thousand three hundred and twenty million pounds.—[Mr. Joseph Slater.]