HC Deb 21 July 1971 vol 821 cc1427-9
7. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what proportions of first-class mail is now being delivered on the day following posting.

21. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what is now the average number of first-class and second-class letters and light mail posted daily, respectively, and in total ; how this position compares with that immediately before and immediately after the postal strike, and with that of a year ago ; and, in each instance, whether he will tabulate the revenue earned.

Mr. Chataway

The Post Office tells me that 94 per cent. of first-class letters are currently being delivered on the next working day after posting. The more detailed information sought in Question No. 21 is essentially a matter for the Post Office, which publishes annual statistics of traffic and revenue in its Report and Accounts.

Mr. Wall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a widespread belief that there is no point in using 3p stamps on Fridays because the mail will not be delivered until the following Monday? Is he further aware that mail posted by hon. Members in the Houses of Parliament before 4 p.m. on a Friday is often not delivered in the constituencies until the Monday when the Member may have returned to the House and therefore cannot deal with it until three or four days later? Will my right hon. Friend look into this unsatisfactory state of affairs?

Mr. Chataway

I will certainly draw the attention of the Post Office to what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Osborn

What effect have the postal strike and increased postal charges had on the volume of postal traffic? Is it not a fact that any further increase in charges would reduce the volume of postal traffic and use of the postal services?

Mr. Chataway

It is too early to come to any firm conclusion on the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. But I think it must be accepted as inevitable that any further tariff increase would have an effect upon postal traffic.

Mr. Bob Brown

Would the Minister indicate what proportion of the proportion referred to in the Question is the direct result of his doctrinaire and disgraceful treatment of the postmen in the recent dispute?

Mr. Chataway

I have no idea what the hon. Gentleman means. But the fact is that the standards of performance by the Post Office have recovered to the levels that they were before the strike, and the figures for delivery are now as good.

Mr. John Hall

Does my right hon. Friend agree, despite what he has just said, that there is growing dissatisfaction with the postal service? In my constituency frequent examples are brought to my attention of letters taking longer to get from London to High Wycombe than they took in the days of the mail horse coach. Can he do something to improve the service?

Mr. Chataway

I accept that there is dissatisfaction with the postal service in many parts of the country, but I believe that the Post Office Corporation is as aware of it as anybody and is determined to improve upon its standards.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I do not know whether the Minister is aware that it sometimes takes three days for a letter to be delivered from the S.E.I postal district across the River Thames to the S.W.I postal district. When one complains or tries to get an explanation from anyone, whether it be from the right hon. Gentleman, from the Chairman of the Post Office Board, or from anybody else, no satisfactory explanation is given. Will he do something to ensure that we have an explanation why it takes three days for a letter to travel 200 or 300 yards?

Mr. Chataway

There will, clearly, be some mistakes in the best ordered postal system. What one should be concerned with is the overall level of performance. At the moment 94 per cent. of first-class mail arrives the next day. But I appreciate that the majority of people remember far more easily the one letter which did not get there promptly rather than the 16 which did.