§ Mr. David Hunt
The Post Office publication, "Putting the Customer First" sets out the Post Office's commitment to charter standards.
§ Mr. Hain
Will the Chancellor join me in congratulating the post office workers who took a day of action today to defend the public who do not want their local high street post offices closed or dumped in the back of supermarkets? Is he aware that a MORI poll published this morning shows that 79 per cent. of the public support the strike, which is an unusually high percentage for a public service strike? Does not that show that the people of this country have no confidence in Government policies?
§ Mr. Hunt
No, it does not. Ninety-five per cent. of all post offices are already successfully run as private sector businesses. They offer their customers a substantial and excellent range of services. I feel strongly that today's action has no justification and I am sad that it should have taken place against the background of the most recent figures, which show that, in the past 12 months, the United Kingdom had the lowest number of strikes on record and the lowest number of working days lost on record. I am sad that today Post Office workers are seeking to add another strike to the incredibly low total. That low figure demonstrates the commitment of the vast majority of people who continue to put the customer first.
§ Mr. Waterson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses in my constituency are very happy with the Government's commitment to securing their future? They need no advice about running their businesses from Labour Members who are sponsored by the postal workers.
§ Mr. Hunt
Yes, I agree. It is evident that the service in post offices has improved tremendously. More than 95 per cent. of post office customers are now served within five minutes. In the past 10 years tariffs have risen less than the rate of inflation. Thanks to the commitment of all those who work in post offices, the quality of customer service has improved beyond recognition.