HC Deb 23 July 1979 vol 971 cc21-2
24. Mr. Archie Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what measures he is considering to improve productivity in the Post Office.

Mr. Michael Marshall

Specific measures to improve productivity are for the management of the Post Office. My right hon. Friend has, however, made clear his view that there is scope for considerable improvement in the efficiency of the postal business, and he is keeping in close touch with the chairman on this matter.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Under-Secretary aware of the growing public disquiet over the charges imposed by the Post Office and the service which it provides? Is he aware that many of my hon. Friends and I think that competition is the only answer if the Post Office is to provide the service that is needed? Has my hon. Friend given thought to some of the less competitive forms of the postal service in distant parts of the country where the Post Office claims that it operates at a loss?

Mr. Marshall

Since I have to sort out letters from hon. Members from all parts of the country, I am aware of the problems involved. My right hon. Friend will bear all considerations in mind when considering the question of the postal monopoly.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Minister accept that one of the troubles in the Post Office is caused by the 10,000 vacancies for postmen and other workers? When the Minister meets the chairman of the Post Office, will he encourage him to pay higher wages and provide better working conditions in order to fill those vacancies?

Mr. Marshall

The Government are well aware of the problem involved in trying to attract workers to fill those vacancies. Achieving the right balance is difficult and it is a matter for the Post Office management.

Mr. Cormack

Is my hon. Friend aware that those of us who rely on the postal service find it almost impossible to keep in close touch with anybody? Will he ask the chairman of the Post Office to abolish, for the time being, the ridiculous two-tier system since everything now goes second class?

Mr. Marshall

I shall bear that suggestion in mind.