HC Deb 29 June 1967 vol 749 cc737-8
45. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the Members' telephone exchange in the House of Commons is overworked and understaffed; that eight men are away from duty, that understaffing has existed for over a year; that operatives refuse to move from normal night-shift duty elsewhere because this involves a reduction of 12s. a week in wages; and what action he will take to remedy the situation.

Mr. Edward Short

The telephone service is a matter for the Authorities of the House to whom the Post Office lends staff. There have been deficiencies in the Members' telephone service because of insufficient response to invitations to do these jobs. I intend to review the present arrangements and advise the House Authorities on how they can best be improved.

I am sorry if hon. Members have been put to any inconvenience.

Sir C. Osborne

Is not the Postmaster-General aware that the servants of the House are frustrated and angry and that their anger is caused by the stupidity of the morning sittings and the absurdity of keeping the House sitting through the whole night as well? Will he do something for these very good servants of the House, many of whom are ready to chuck their hand in?

Mr. Short

The main point of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is not a matter for me, but I agree that he has a point. There is one specific grievance, I agree, that telephonists here have. Under an arbitration award of 1962, telephonists outside get 12s. for night work. Telephonists in this House do not get it.[HoN. MEMBERS: "Why?"] The conditions are different. There is less weekend work here, and rarely do we go through the night. But I agree that the hon. Gentleman has a point there.