HC Deb 13 June 1968 vol 766 cc426-7
38. Mr. Winnick

asked the Postmaster-General if he will take steps to increase the number of representatives of the general public on the Post Office Users' Council.

34. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Postmaster-General what are the terms of reference of the Post Office Users' Council; by whom it is appointed; and where its offices are.

Mr. Mason

To represent at national level the interests of the users of Post Office services; to ensure the existence of adequate consultative arrangements at local level; to receive proposals from the Postmaster General; and to make recommendations to him about the services.

Twenty-nine of the thirty-three members are nominated for appointment by the organisations named in the Council's constitution: four are appointed by me. All the members of the Council serve in a personal, and not a delegate, capacity. They represent a wide range of consumer interests and are free to speak for the general public. At present the Council's offices are at G.P.O. Headquarters.

Mr. Winnick

I think that that Answer related mainly to the other Question. Will my right hon. Friend take steps to make the Council rather more broadly representative of the general public? Is not the person who acts as secretary to the Council, and who does a very good job, a full-time employee of the Post Office?

Mr. Mason

First, very wide consumer interests are now represented on the Council. Secondly, the Council is independent. We established it. I appoint the Chairman. There is a Council meeting today. I have offered the Council independent premises and an independent staff and secretariat.

Mr. Bryan

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that when the Post Office becomes a public corporation the scrutiny of this Council will be a sufficient substitute for the scrutiny of Parliament to guard the public interest?

Mr. Mason

At least it will play a part. It will be recognised by Statute when the Corporation Bill is issued.