HC Deb 08 December 1971 vol 827 cc1274-6
7. Mr. Charles R. Morris

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications whether he will give further details of the Post Office's plans for improving marketing techniques designed to increase public use of facilities provided by the Post Office Giro.

Mr. Chataway

No, Sir. Now that my review is concluded the implementation of the agreed changes is a matter for the Post Office.

Mr. Morris

I appreciate the significant contribution which the Minister made to saving the Post Office Giro banking system. However, will he consider having discussions with the Paymaster-General to examine the possibility of that Department's payments being made through the Giro system?

Mr. Chataway

No. These matters were carefully considered during the course of the review. Government Departments will, like other customers, choose the system which suits them best. I have no doubt that on that basis Giro will be able to attract increased business.

Sir R. Thompson

Although the new plans for running the Giro may be a matter for the Post Office, does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the basic reasons why Giro has failed so far to come up to expectations is that it was sought to run it with Post Office personnel under a Post Office head and that this is not the right approach to a competitive and commercially orientated enterprise?

Mr. Chataway

What my hon. Friend says has a good deal of validity in it. The Post Office accepts that it will now be necessary to bring in outside expertise, particularly on the marketing and the financial side.

8. Mr. Rost

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what is the latest available number of National Giro accounts in current use; how this number compares with the figure at the beginning of this year; how many accounts have been closed by customers over the past year; and what estimate he made in his review of the Giro of the number of accounts required before the service will operate profitably.

Mr. Chataway

I understand that the net increase in the number of accounts over the past twelve months has been 75,000 bringing the total to over 450,000. However, profitability does not depend solely on the number of accounts.

Mr. Rost

As the Cooper Bros. report on Giro points to serious errors and hopelessly optimistic estimates of business, is it not in the public interest—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]—that the report be published and are not taxpayers entitled to see the results of the independent inquiry? Why is not the report of the independent inquiry being made public? Has the Post Office or the Minister something to hide?

Mr. Chataway

No. We are following past practice. If one commissions outside consultants and asks them to be frank about facts and individuals, it is normal to assure the consultants that their report will not be published. I do not think that it would be appropriate to publish in this case.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

Is the Minister aware that we on this side would have no objection to publication? Indeed, we would welcome publication of the report if only to support the point of view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) on Question No. 7 about Government Departments. We cannot yet understand why the Minister refuses to recommend to his colleagues that Government Departments should use the Giro service.

Mr. Chataway

The hon. Gentleman would be most ill-advised if he were to support a demand for the publication of a document which has been commissioned in this way. Publication would be a departure from past practice.