HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc196-7
24. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Postmaster-General what steps he has taken to halt the deterioration of postal delivery services throughout the country.

Mr. Short

There has been no deterioration recently in the postal delivery services taking the country as a whole—indeed, so far as letter are concerned there has been a slight improvement since the beginning of 1966. If the hon. Member will give me details of any particular cases which have come to his notice, I will gladly look into them; or any other hon. Member.

Mr. Gilmour

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that that answer is in defiance of a great many people's experience? If he is really satisfied with how the postal service is working, why does he think the Southern Electricity Board delivers 1¼ million bills each quarter itself instead of using the postal services?

Mr. Short

I am not satisfied with the way in which the postal services are working in some parts of the country; for example, the area which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) represents is badly hit because of labour shortage, and I am not satisfied with that. By our standards of measurement, which are pretty well worked out over many years, so far as letters are concerned, there has been a slight improvement this year.

Mr. Hogg

Since the right hon. Gentleman recognises the special needs of the post offices in the district to which he has referred, can he give any news which would give my constituents any hope of an improvement in the near future?

Mr. Short

Short of that, I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman what I think he knows already, that the new Western District office has been opened. Because of his complaints, I took the opportunity to visit it one evening, and I spent some hours there. There is a very great shortage of labour there, and we have had trouble with the new machinery. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman and any hon. Member who represents a neighbouring constituency likes to visit that office, I shall be very glad to arrange it. But there is a fairly rapid improvement in the Western District of London.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

Is the Postmaster-General aware that postal deliveries are getting worse and worse all over the country, particularly in London, and is this not another example of the failure of nationalised industry, providing worse service at increased cost?

Mr. Short

I have a Press cutting in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman compliments the postal workers in his district.