HC Deb 23 July 1979 vol 971 cc16-7
17. Mr. Neubert

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects next to meet the chairman of the Post Office.

Mr. Michael Marshall

My right hon. Friend will be meeting Sir William Barlow and members of the Post Office board this evening.

Mr. Neubert

In the four weeks since our right hon. Friend answered questions on this subject, has there been any progress at all in overcoming the resistance to the employment of part-time and casual staff in the Post Office? Is it not unacceptable that, when the Post Office attributes many of the serious postal delays to the lack of sufficient staff, there should be this obstacle to an obvious solution?

Mr. Marshall

The Government certainly regret that the Union of Post Office Workers was unable to accept this proposal when it was recommended to it by its executive. We hope that there will yet be further consideration of this matter.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

When the Secretary of State meets the chairman of the Post Office tonight, will he point out to him the fact that Ministers of the Crown have always replied to letters from hon. Members and that he should not adopt the attitude that because he gets so many letters of complaint from hon. Members he does not have time to answer them? Is it not about time that the chairman realised that Members of Parliament, like the chairman, get their salaries from the workers and the people who subscribe to the Post Office, and that if they complain they want their Members of Parliament to get replies from him and not from the monkey on the organ?

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Member has already written to us on this matter and these views have been passed on to the chairman. However, I must reaffirm our confidence in Sir William Barlow in handling the difficult tasks that face him.

Mr. Michael Brown

Will my hon. Friend accept that if the chairman of the Post Office Corporation wishes to retain the confidence of the general public my right hon. Friend should remind him this evening that it does not help to suggest that the public should be patient? My hon. Friend will recall that I called upon the general public to show their total impatience with the chairman.

Mr. Marshall

I am sure that my right hon. Friend has noted my hon. Friend's views.

Mr. Les Huckfield

Does the Secretary of State intend to tell the chairman tonight what the hon. Gentleman could not tell the House today? Does he, in fact, intend to bring back the office of Postmaster-General, as he suggested in replying on question 13—or did the hon. Gentleman simply turn to the wrong page?

Mr. Marshall

The previous legislation referred to in that question has lapsed, so the first question did not arise. Therefore, the answer that I gave to question 13 was correct, and the Government have no proposals to bring back the office of Postmaster-General.

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