§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
asked the Postmaster-General whether the figures quoted by the Geddes Committee in regard to the continuous and heavy decrease in telegrams are correct; whether the number of operators employed is 17 per cent. in excess of the needs of the traffic; whether, in those circumstances, the Postmaster-General last year increased the salaries of the telegraph administrative staff of the 2443W central telegraph office, who were, of course, in receipt of the bonus, by about 25 per cent.; if at the same time the annual leave of the staff was increased from 27 days to 36 days; whether he considers that decreased work justifies the increased salaries; and, if so, does he propose to apply the same principle to the other Departments under his control?
§ Mr. PEASE
It is the case that there has been a reduction in the volume of telegraph traffic owing to causes which are, I hope, of a temporary character. The Geddes Committee reported that the decrease in staff had lagged behind the decrease of traffic, and that the present surplus staff throughout the country might be regarded as about 15 per cent. over bare necessities. This surplus includes the reserve of operators, either trained or in training, which is required to make good current wastage. In the central telegraph office itself the decrease of staff has practically kept pace with the traffic decrease. The improvements in the pay and annual leave of certain members of the clerical (as distinctive from the operating) staff in the central telegraph office, to which my hon. Friend refers, were made in connection with the general reorganisation of the clerical classes of the Civil Service on uniform lines. It would not have been justifiable to exclude the officers in a particular Department from the revision merely because the work of that Department was for the moment below the normal level.