HC Deb 07 June 1972 vol 838 cc429-31
5. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he is yet able to state what Post Office Giro losses were for the chargeable accounting period ended 31st March, 1972; and what further steps he has now taken towards profitability in the year 1972–73.

Sir J. Eden

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend on 19th April, but I refer him to the measures announced by my predecessor on 22nd March—[Vol. 835, c. 484; Vol. 833, c. 1478.]

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes, but they were all very unsatisfactory anyway. Is not the Minister aware that the Government's policy has been to try to coax along such lame ducks as there are in the industrial economy? Do we not have in the Post Office today a whole nestful of dying ducks, of which the Giro is the worst, and should it not be exterminated at the earliest possible date?

Sir J. Eden

The Giro may have got off to a faltering start but, having taken the decision to continue its existence, I am sure it is right that we should give it every encouragement to succeed.

Mr. Simon Mahon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is true that this enterprise got off to a very bad start but that it was not helped by some of the observations of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro)? Has there not been a discernible and en- couraging improvement in the last few months, however, and will the Minister do all he can to get industrialists, commercial undertakings and other people to enter this enterprise so that it will be an assured success?

Sir J. Eden

I am sure that the Chairman of the Post Office Corporation will have that last point very much in mind.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

What we on this side are anxious to do—and I am sure that this applies to many hon. Members on the Government side too—is to improve the number of customers that the Giro has and not to damn it, as the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) does every three weeks? How do the Government propose to help the Giro services to expand its business?

Sir J. Eden

This is a matter for the Chairman of the corporation, but proposals for charge increases are now with the Post Office Users National Council and the corporation has accepted the new financial objective of making a positive contribution from Giro to Post Office finances within a year of introducing the new tariffs.

26. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, if he will make a statement on the outcome of the consideration by the Post Office Users Consultative Council of proposals to increase Giro charges in line with the recommendations of the Cooper Brothers report.

Sir J. Eden

I have nothing as yet to add to the reply given by my predecessor on 22nd March to my hon. Friend.—[Vol. 833, c. 1478.]

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will my hon. Friend suggest to Lord Peddie and his fellow sages that it is about time they started taking their finger out? Will he recall that the increase in charges was due to occur at the end of this month? Many of us, certainly some of us, would regard any further dilution or postponement of the increase in these charges, as recommended by the Cooper Brothers report, as being very undesirable.

Sir J. Eden

My hon. Friend has previously expressed the view that he has just repeated in the later part of his supplementary question. On the first part, I hope to receive the report of the Post Office Users National Council in about a week to 10 days' time.