§ Viscount DALRYMPLE
asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether he would arrange that when a Post Office holiday clashes with an important local fair or market, as occurred in Stranraer at the New Year, causing inconvenience to the general public, some provision should be made for the transaction of postal order business at any rate, and, if possible, for telegraph business, during certain hours; (2) whether he had received complaints from the Scottish Estate Factors Society, as to the inconvenience caused to telegraphic business by the new system of weekly half-holidays in country districts; whether anything would be done to obviate this inconvenience; whether he would consider the possibility of substituting a periodical holiday of greater length, with the employment of a temporary substitute; and (3) whether, if he proposes to continue the system of weekly half-holidays in country post offices, he would modify the arrangement by which porterage is charged when deliveries of telegrams are made from a neighbouring office, and deliver them free of charge?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL:
The introduction of a weekly half-holiday at country sub-post offices was one of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Post Office Servants appointed in 1906, and the arrangement is now fairly general. Every effort is made to minimise local inconvenience by the selection of the least busy 2365W afternoon—where possible that of the local early-closing day, if one exists—and, at telegraph offices, by allowing the half-holiday only when the telegraph traffic is small, and when there is another telegraph office open within a reasonable distance from which the delivery of telegrams can be maintained. I am afraid I cannot undertake to substitute a periodical holiday of greater length for the weekly half-holidays recommended by the Select Committee; nor could I rightly incur the expense of providing temporary substitutes for the sub-postmasters, nor as at present advised do I see my way to forego the payment of porterage charges from neighbouring offices when the normal delivery office is closed. I received protests against the half-holidays from the Scottish Factors' Society, and answered them on the 23rd March and the 4th ultimo, in the same way as I am now answering the Noble Lord. I cannot find that any representation has been made to me that a post office holiday clashed with an important fair or market at Stranraer at the New Year. New Year's Day is a Bank Holiday in Scotland, and the postal and telegraph arrangements for that day are shown at page 148 of the Post Office Guide.