HC Deb 19 January 1972 vol 829 cc447-8
19. Mr. William Price

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what percentage of first-class letters is now being delivered by the following day.

Mr. Chataway

The latest Post Office figures show that about 94 per cent. of first-class letters are delivered on the next working day after posting.

Mr. Price

Is that not a remarkable figure which provides a devastating answer to those of the Minister's hon. Friends who spend half their time attacking the Post Office? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what proportion of the other 6 per cent. which could not be delivered by the following day was due to the run-down over the years of British Rail services making it a physical impossibility?

Mr. Chataway

This is a good figure. It represents a substantial improvement from the middle of last year and the immediate aftermath of the Post Office strike. The hon. Gentleman is right that of the 6 per cent. a high proportion is accounted for by letters travelling long distances or on cross-country routes or which are unable to be delivered on Saturday mornings because business premises are closed.

Mr. Gorst

Regardless of the fact that six letters in every 100 are not getting through, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that some firms are spending lavishly on very sophisticated automated equipment for the mailing of letters so that they arrive the following day and that it is an extremely difficult situation for the business community when it finds that its efforts to speed up letters are negated by the failure of the Post Office to deliver 100 per cent. of first-class letters on time?

Mr. Chataway

I assure my hon. Friend that no postal service anywhere will ever deliver 100 per cent. on the following day, for the reasons I have given. But the Post Office is by no means satisfied even with the figure that it has achieved, and it hopes to do better.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Is the Minister aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) is absolutely right when he said that the answer which he had just given was a remarkable commendation on the efficiency of the Post Office staff? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that, if he accepts the recommendation to abolish the second delivery in residential areas, this figure will take a dramatic change for the worse?

Mr. Chataway

As I have said, the Post Office Users National Council will be commenting on that shortly.

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