Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
asked the Postmaster-General whether in September-October, 1919, March, 1920, October, 1920, and February, 1921, special countings of letters and parcels have been made at every Post Office; what useful purpose any of the figures obtained have served; whether in October, 1920, the counting was continued several days during the coal strike, and is proceeding during severe trade depression now; the expenditure upon stationery, and the amount of money paid as overtime and for special staff to deal with the work during the four periods?
§ Mr. PEASE
Counts of correspondence have been taken as stated; their principal object is to provide a statistical basis 2051W for the calculation and check of staff requirements, but they are also used in connection with revisions of pay in cases where the volume of work is a factor in determining the rate of remuneration. It is the case that the counts taken in October last coincided with the miners' strike; they were discontinued as soon as it became clear that their value would be seriously impaired. It is obviously difficult to obtain representative figures during periods of fluctuation of trade, but the returns are nevertheless of value, and I do not think that there are sufficient grounds for suspending them altogether. Information is not available on the points raised in the last part of the question, but the work is largely done by reserve staff which during the rest of the year is employed on leave substitution.