§ 5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Postmaster-General what investigations 638 have been carried out by his Department into the percentage productivity increases to be achieved in postal delivery without serious reduction in the quality of the service by the general introduction of garden gate boxes in homes with gardens, and extending delivery boxes in blocks of flats, for receiving mail.
§ Mr. Joseph Slater
The widest possible provision of these boxes would produce an improvement in postal productivity of about 0.75 per cent. As to quality the time of delivery would be worsened for some and improved for others.
§ Mr. Roberts
Will my hon. Friend accept that I find that numerical Answer quite incredible? Does he not agree that there is an urgent need to improve the lot of the postman to avoid his having to walk up garden paths and climb the stairs of 16-storey blocks of flats when lifts are not working? Why was no legal action taken on this in the Post Office Bill?
§ Mr. Slater
As my hon. Friend knows, we try to do things by persuasion. We try to improve the lot of our people who are faced with long walks when seeking to deliver mail on behalf of the Post Office. My hon. Friend referred to the Post Office Bill. He will remember that, on Second Reading, the Government considered that it would be better for the Corporation to take over the responsibilities of the Post Office's monopoly as well as its privileges.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
Will the hon. Gentleman recognise that, if the postman does not walk up the garden path, the householder has to walk down it? There must, therefore, be a decline in the quality of the service, and it must not be forgotten that not all householders are young and able-bodied.
§ Mr. Slater
Nor are many of our employees young and able-bodied. Some of our people have given service to the Post Office for many years. On the other hand, I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that a good deal of a postman's time can be spent in walking up and down long paths and, in coal mining areas in the North-East, for example, in many instances the postman acts as a caller-up.