HC Deb 18 November 1953 vol 520 cc174-5W
103. Sir F. Messer

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he has yet had a conference with the Standard Telephone Company in connection with the notice of redundancy recently issued to staff; and with what result.

Mr. Gammans

Officials of my Department have had discussions with the Company based on a suggestion made to me by some of the Company's shop stewards that the reduction in the Company's production programme is attributed solely to the Post Office having cancelled or transferred orders from the current production programme set up This is not so.

The Company, in common with the rest of the telephone industry, has met with an unavoidable reduction in export work and, in order to keep up a reasonable level of production under these circumstances, the Company planned a programme from the Post Office orders on its books to meet the situation.

It should be understood that it is customary practice for the Post Office to agree with the industry as a whole, each year, the exact programme of production when the finances available to the Post Office for that year are known. In the case of the current year, it was found that the limitation of these finances as far as the Company were concerned necessitated a transfer of certain items of the programme to the following year. Thus, from the Post Office point of view no cancellation or transfer has been effected in the finally agreed programme, but the fact remains that the Company did plan and could have produced the transferred work within the current year.

While the expenditure permitted to the Post Office for exchange equipment this year is not less than last year spread over the telephone industry, it is still insufficient, even more so this year than last, to absorb the export deficiency. What I said on this aspect of the matter in my winding-up speech on the Second Reading of the Money Bill, last week, has, of course, to be read in conjunction with my reply to the hon. Member on 28th October.