HC Deb 07 March 1968 vol 760 cc621-2
2. Mr. Onslow

asked the Postmaster-General what steps he takes to prevent unnecessary or wasteful expenditure by his Department.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Edward Short)

Control of expenditure is the constant concern of all levels of management and is exercised through a comprehensive system of financial, budgetary and operational management employing modern standard techniques.

Mr. Onslow

How does the Postmaster-General square that Answer with the fact that £3,000 was recently wasted in the Guildford telephone area in sending out this sort of ludicrous information about the new price of telephone directories?

Mr. Short

This is not wasted at all. It is money very well spent. At the moment directory inquiries on the telephone cost us almost I s. each. We are trying to persuade people to use the yellow pages of the classified directory, because we find that the greater part of these inquiries could be answered through the yellow pages.

Mr. Bryan

On the subject of waste, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Bristol Siddeley affair showed up a quite astonishing incompetence in buying methods in some Government Departments? Is he absolutely—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must deal with the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Bryan

Is he absolutely certain that the commercial skills of his own Department match up to its very difficut tasks?

Mr. Short

Yes. I think that this kind of case could not occur in the Post Office.