§ 6.44 p.m.
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government when they propose to restore the second daily postal deliveries in rural areas.]
§ THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the opportunity of explaining the present position. The postal services have been much curtailed under the exigencies of war with its effect on man-power and transport. Deliveries and collections have had to be reduced, and the very complete network of travelling post offices which provided the pre-war frame of Post Office circulation could riot function, with the result that the channels through which the mails circulate throughout the country had to be radically altered. Now that the war is over, the Post Office is anxious to return as 'soon as possible to an efficient postal service, and much preparatory work has already been done. Man-power and transport are still the limiting factors, but some improvements have already been made. The four main travelling post offices, between London and Aberdeen and London and Penzance, were restored on October 1, and interim improvements were made in postal services in London and in some provincial centres. Work is now proceeding on further improvements which will benefit both town and rural areas, and consultations are being held with the railway coin-panics. In all these directions much 399 detailed work remains to be done in overhauling the services, but as soon as matters are sufficiently advanced, I propose to make a full statement on the postwar postal services as a whole, and to proceed as speedily as possible with the restoration of a peace-time service, including a second delivery in those rural areas where it is warranted.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for his answer, which is very full and complete, may I ask if he can be a little more definite? Does he intend this statement to be made within a matter of weeks or a matter of months?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord a definite date, or even a target date. I have ready explained why I think prophecies at this time are hard to make and are not really warranted. I can assure him that we shall press ahead as vigorously as possible. I hope to be able to make a further statement at no very distant date.