§ 2.40 p.m.
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied with the average time that parcels posted in London take to reach destinations in the Midlands or North of England; and how to-day's service provided by the Post Office compares with pre-war both as regards postal charges and time in transit]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TECHNOLOGY (LORD SNOW)
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Postmaster General is not satisfied that the parcel post service from London to the Midlands and the North of England is as good as it should be. Normally, parcels for these destinations should be delivered within two working days after posting, but owing to heavy postings and continuing staff shortages, particularly in some London and Midland Post Offices, some parcels are taking longer. Intensive efforts are being made to remove the causes of delay℄in particular my right honourable friend is continuing with his recruiting drive for postmen, and is employing more post-women and part-timers.
Transit times now are rather longer than they were before the war. It is fair to say that traffic was lighter and conditions generally were more favourable then. Charges for parcels are about five times what they were in 1939.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that extremely frank and fair reply. May I ask him whether he has any reasonable hopes that he will be able to overcome these staff difficulties℄because I understand that handling parcel post traffic is very unpopular. Will he tell us whether this two days' time in transit is something that can, in practice, be realised℄because the four, five or six days, which is more normal to-day, is comparable with the times when we depended on horse transport; and that is really tragic in the 1960s.
My Lords, one final question. As a token of his good intentions would the noble Lord think of reducing these charges, which he says are five times as high as before the war, until at least the quality of the pre-war service is restored.
§ LORD ERROLL OF HALE
My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether the American consultants appointed by the Postmaster General are recommending American parcel post methods in this country?