HC Deb 17 November 1919 vol 121 cc660-1W

asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether any agreement has been come to between his Department and the Press Association whereby wires will be leased to that body for the conveyance of news messages in competition with his Department; whether it is proposed to grant a lease of the necessary wires to this association of newspaper owners under the terms of which they will secure the free use of the telegraph lines for a period of two years; and whether he will lay all the papers with regard to this transaction upon the Table of the House before any agreement is ratified;

(2) whether the leasing of newspaper lines to the Press Association for the transmission of news messages, for which the Press Association has hitherto been compelled to pay the Post Office, will merely mean that a fully occupied Post Office wire from which the telegraph administration now secures the revenue will become a fully occupied Press Association wire, from which this combination of newspaper owners will take the proceeds of the relief this will afford to the Post Office telegraph lines; and whether beyond the loss of revenue, the change is likely to have any effect upon his Department;

(3) whether, in the event of an agreement being come to between the Press Association and his Department, he will be willing to insert a Fair-Wage Clause which will prevent the employment of low-paid labour?


As my right hon. Friend explained to the hon. Member on the 6th instant, he has agreed to lease certain wires to the Press Association on the usual rental terms. The period of the lease has not yet been fixed, as the arrangement is at present of a partial and experimental nature. Spare wires will be allocated for the purpose in the first instance, and there will be no interference with the ordinary service. Beyond securing for the telegraph service a substantial rental and relieving it of a considerable amount of unremunerative traffic, I do not anticipate that the leasing of the wires will affect the Post Office. The case is not one in which a Fair-Wage Clause could be properly inserted. It does not differ essentially from that of wires rented for private purposes.