HC Deb 25 June 1979 vol 969 cc15-7
18. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to meet the chairman of the Post Office corporation.

19. Mr. Neubert

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

Sir Keith Joseph

I have had two full discussions with the chairman of the Post Office and shall continue to meet him as the need arises.

Mr. Jessel

Will my right hon. Friend tell Sir William Barlow as soon as possible that delays in the postal services are growing worse? There is much public concern about that. Will he ask Sir William what the Post Office intends to do about it?

Sir K. Joseph

I agree that there is great scope for increased efficiency in the postal business. I was dismayed that the members of the Union of Post Office Workers rejected, in return for higher pay, measures approved by their union leadership required to improve efficiency. As I have said, I am having talks with the chairman of the Post Office about how efficiency and service to the customer might be improved.

Mr. Neubert

Has my right hon. Friend seen the report of the Post Office Users National Council? It makes a devastating criticism of the Post Office, pointing out that the consumer is being asked to pay higher prices for lower standards of service. Does my right hon. Friend agree that poor postal deliveries represent a drag to industrial and commercial performance? In particular, what action is being taken to secure a return to second working day delivery of second-class mail?

Sir K. Joseph

These matters, including the report of the committee to which my hon. Friend referred, are for the chairman of the Post Office. I deplore the current bad service not only to commerce and industry but to domestic customers.

Mr. Dalyell

In the light of the closure of the Pye-TMC factory at Winston and various difficulties that have been expressed to this Government by, for example, Philips, does the Secretary of State think it right to have a serious discussion on the Post Office's long-term investment programme so that industry at least can be warned of its intentions earlier than has been the recent practice?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In view of the evidence that I have from my constituents that the Post Office is no longer capable of moving the mails, will my right hon. Friend support me if I introduce a one-clause Bill to abolish the Post Office statutory monopoly?

Sir K. Joseph

I have no plans at present for such an initiative or response, but I should not like to rule it out. I am sure that the House would agree that it is unacceptable for any nationalised industry to use its monopoly to cloak inefficiency.