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 what conditions with a bearing on productivity are included in the new Post Office pay offer, and what is the average percentage increase offered.]
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the Post Office has informed my right honourable friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications that the increases, which averaged about 11½ per cent., were given subject to undertakings by each of the unions concerned to give full cooperation, both generally and through specific measures, in increasing productivity, efficiency and profitability.
My Lords, does the noble Lord consider 11½ per cent, a fair average for others to follow in negotiations of this kind, or has it to be taken as an exception? Secondly, can he not give us a little more specific information about the productivity clauses?—because this is a matter which affects us all. Will these agreements achieve something worth while, and mean the end of restrictive practices? Because on that may depend whether the increased charges will be substantial.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am finding it slightly difficult to curb the length of the noble Lord's supplementaries since I am about to answer them. But to answer the noble Lord's first point, he would be very unwise to argue from the particular to the general. If he wishes further details about the makeup of the 1l½ per cent., I can tell him the increases varied for different grades for different purposes and depended on the dates of previous increases—and I am sure he will accept that.
The noble Lord also asks for details of particular measures. I do not wish to go into much detail, for the simple reason 714 that I do not believe it would be right for me to give it, since this is basically a matter for the Post Office, which is a nationalised industry. But I have made inquiries, and without prejudice as to whether or not I should give this information, I may say that the specific measures included, for example, the introduction of new methods of measuring and recording productivity in local offices and an assurance of the continued acceptance of the principles of mechanising mail handling and of cooperation in the development and implementation of mechanisation in the letter and parcel services. I have in fact inquired pretty directly, and I find also that the Post Office are keeping very closely in touch with the productivity experts in the Department of Employment and Productivity. On the whole, if I may say so subjectively, I think the situation is rather encouraging.
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord very much for being so specific. Can he follow it up by saying that the achievements are likely to be so great that we need not look forward to any increases in postal charges?