§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in safeguarding the mails during the past year.]
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, since our debate on this important subject a year ago, I am glad to say that there has been a further fall in our losses. Out of a total of 350 million bags carried in 1954, 483 were lost, as compared with 720 in the previous year. There were also very considerable falls in the numbers of registered letters and parcels lost during the same period. In fact, the number of bags lost is now one-third of what it was just after the war, and the number of registered letters and parcels lost about one-half.
In spite of these improvements, I must stress, as I have done before, that there is no winning or final shot in matters of this kind. However good our dispositions may be, no one can foresee what our losses may be in the future, and we most certainly cannot allow ourselves to relax for a moment. We have to fight not only to maintain but also to improve on these figures, but I think your Lordships will agree with me that they are at least encouraging. In saying this, I should like to congratulate the staff on what is, in fact, largely their achievement. With so many millions of letters and packets travelling every day on every main and branch railway line in the country and over every road and by-road, this result could have been achieved only by the efforts of the whole of our staff, working in their different capacities and at every level. I should like also to thank and congratulate the police for their great help in ensuring the security of the mails. The number of arrests and successful prosecutions has undoubtedly had a great deterrent effect on those contemplating offences against the mail.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for his reply: I am sure that all your Lordships will be gratified at the improvement in 99 the situation about which he has told us. I wonder whether he could be a little more specific with regard to the losses of registered packets and say what the figures are, and whether the decline has been steady over the intervening period.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies, may I ask that he will associate noble Lords on this side with his congratulations to the Post Office staff on their achievements in the past year?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, noble Lords opposite have always been consistently helpful in discussing these matters, and I do indeed thank them. With regard to the question of the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, as to specific figures for registered letters and parcels, I will not give your Lordships all the figures since 1945, but in 1945–46 the number was 18,000; in 1947–48 it was 15,000; it came down in 1950–51 to 9,000, and it is now just over 7,000.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I would again thank the noble Earl, and say that I am sure your Lordships would all like your best wishes conveyed to the staff of the Post Office, with congratulations upon that success.