HC Deb 25 January 1982 vol 16 cc608-9
18. Sir William van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he expects the Post Office to meet its profit targets in 1981–82.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Yes, Sir.

Sir William van Straubenzee

Do I correctly understand that the target profit figure for the Post Office is £49 million? Although one is grateful for the half-year figure of a £7 million profit, as opposed to a loss of £30 million—an enormous improvement, in which productivity has played a great part—is it not still a little optimistic to hope to achieve the £49 million profit?

Mr. Baker

The target is approximately that. It depends on the turnover, since the target for the Post Office is 2 per cent. of turnover and we had anticipated a turnover of about £2, 400 million for this year. From the information that I have had from the chairman of the Post Office, it seems that he is on line to make that. As my hon. Friend pointed out, the remarkable improvement of the past six months has been caused by a considerable improvement in productivity in the Post Office.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I am glad that my hon. Friend is satisfied with the profit target. Is he equally satisfied that the Post Office target of next-day delivery is nowhere near being accomplished? If the Post Office achieved that, it might even start to make a profit and we could all make a profit, because our letters would arrive on time.

Mr. Baker

The Post Office will make a profit. I can assure my hon. Friend that it is running profitably. The November figures show that 88.4 per cent. of first-class letters were delivered the following day, and that is very close to the target. I should like to emphasise the enormous improvement made in productivity. For example, over Christmas, with approximately the same number of cards and letters delivered as in the previous year, about 3½ per cent. fewer hours were needed to handle them. It is a great tribute to the chairman of the Post Office that he has succeeded in making those productivity gains. There has been a gain of about 15.3 per cent. in reducing overtime hours, compared with the same period last year.