§ Mr. Alfred Morris
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will now make a statement of policy, following the publication of the Report and Accounts.
§ Mr. Benn
Yes. The Report and Accounts published last week underline two important and inter-connected problems facing the Post Office.
One is the likelihood of continuing financial and manpower difficulties on the postal side; and the other is the essential difference in character between posts and telecommunications.
It is clear that a determined effort to raise productivity, reduce costs, improve labour utilization and maintain advertised standards of service is required. With this end in view and after consultation with the Unions I have therefore decided to take certain measures, the main ones being:—
- 1. To intensify the recruiting campaign for postmen.
- 2. To employ women and part-timers to meet problems of under-staffing.
- 3. Except in Central London, to extend the scheduled finishing time of the first delivery in towns, by 15 minutes which will, in many cases, bring it in line with current practice.
- 4. To consolidate the number of letter deliveries in the London sub districts—that is in all but the most central areas—to two Monday to Friday and to one on Saturday, thus bringing them in line with the number of deliveries in all other towns: in the most central areas of London the only change will be the consolidation of the two letter deliveries on Saturday into one.
- 5. To consolidate parcel deliveries on the basis of one a day except in the central areas of London.
- 6. To advance the times of evening collections by half an hour throughout the country where this is necessary to flatten out uneconomic peaks of work and offset the effects of traffic congestion: collections on Saturday afternoons will also be made earlier than at present.
- 7. To abolish the individual date-stamping of pool and other large bulk postings.
- 8. To negotiate new arrangements to replace the present daily balancing by counter clerks.
These measures taken together will save between £4 million and £5 million in a full year and will provide means by which we can maintain the advertised standard of service which we have not been doing for a long time now.
Meanwhile it is already clear that posts and telecommunications are sufficiently distinct in character to require at top level a greater concentration of operating control leading to responsibilities such as those for wages, personnel and buildings for each service separately being placed in the hands of two Deputy Directors General who will then have complete operational responsibility for Posts and Telecommunications respectively, under the supreme control of the Director General.
McKinseys are already engaged on a general study of the postal services and I have decided that they should extend 255W their work to cover the management structure on the telecommunications side as well. Both are expanding and are undergoing immense technological changes which will have to reflect themselves in management.
I believe that these arrangements will greatly strengthen the command structure on both the postal and telecommunications sides.
These decisions flow from the first stage of the consideration I have been giving Post Office structure and management and it is possible that further changes may follow later.