HC Deb 17 October 1968 vol 770 cc159-62W
42. Mr. John Page

asked the Postmaster-General what is the cost of the current advertising campaign announcing the 4d. and 5d. post.

45. Mr. Hugh Fraser

asked the Postmaster-General how much money was spent on commercial publicity for the General Post Office for the years 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967, respectively.

Mr. Stonehouse

The current campaign will cost approximately £240,000. Following are the figures for earlier years:

Publicity Recruitment Publicity
£ £
1963–64 919,000 361,000
1964–65 730,000 706,000
1965–66 686,000 1,043,000
1966–67 653,000 956,000
1967–68 1,146,000 988,000

46. Dr. Bennett

asked the Postmaster-General what instructions he has issued to his staff with the object of ensuring that letters carrying 5d. stamps should be delivered more promptly than those carrying 4d. stamps; and what instructions he has given for the setting aside, diversion or storage of the latter to ensure that end.

Mr. Stonehouse

According to instructions first class letters are given priority treatment at all stages. Second class mail is scheduled for a slower service and is dealt with in a manner designed to minimise costs of handling.

48 and 49. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Postmaster-General, (1) how many representations he has received regarding the new postal service for letters; and how many of these have, in general, been critical of the new arrangements;

(2) whether he is satisfied with the results of the new postal service for letters; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stonehouse

Many hundreds, most of which have been critical in some degree of the new arrangements.

About 30 per cent, of the mail is now being sent at first class rate. I expect the proportion will increase gradually to meet our objective of 32 per cent. It has increased from about 25 per cent. in the first few days. There have been mistakes leading to delays in both first and second class services, but I am satisfied that we are delivering the vast majority of first class letters the day after posting and of the second class letters within two days of posting.

50. Mr. J. T. Price

asked the Postmaster-General what conversations or negotiations he had with the International Postal Union before introducing the two-tier system; and if he will make a statement on this aspect of the matter.

Mr. Stonehouse

The Universal Postal Union is concerned only with the international postal services. There was, therefore, no need for us to consult other members of the Union before introducing our internal two-tier system.

The system has nevertheless been discussed internationally several times. Its intrinsic merit has been widely recognised, especially where postal authorities are faced with having to process a constantly increasing volume of mail within a relatively short space of time if they are to maintain the quality of their service for urgent mail. As a result, some administrations are already planning two-tier systems of their own; and they and many others are watching developments here with the keenest interest.

Mr. Fisher

asked the Postmaster-General whether, since the 5d. post is made necessary because most letters are posted between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., he will now seek to relieve this congestion by charging 5d. for letters posted after 3 p.m. but only 4d. for letters posted earlier in the day, all mail being delivered by the first post the next day.

Mr. Stonehouse

No. The increase in postage was necessary to enable the Post Office to meet its financial target.

We have for many years encouraged the early posting of printed papers by despatching on the same day those posted before an advertised time, but the quantity posted early remained very small.

If we arranged that letters posted after a fixed time would be delivered next day at an extra charge, there would be serious practical difficulties in preventing posting of lower-rate items after the prescribed time and in handling them. A better way of meeting customers' posting needs, and of assisting postal operations, is to give the customer a choice of service throughout the day, as we are now doing.

Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a statement on the operation of the two-price postal service.

Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a statement on the working of the alterations in the postal system, with special reference to the two-tier and two-price system for ordinary letters and the changes in times of their delivery.

Mr. Stonehouse

I would refer my hon. Friends to my Answer earlier today to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor).

Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Postmaster-General what are his plans for the future of his two-tier postal system, in view of his recent experience of that system.

Mr. Stonehouse

I am keeping the service under constant review to ensure that we achieve our service objectives.

Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Postmaster-General if he will state the changes in organisation, mechanisation and personnel caused in his Department by the two-tier postage system.

Mr. Stonehouse

The main change has been the increase in the amount of mail which can be deferred so as to reduce our peak working problems. This is a matter of degree; there is no fundamental change in the system of operation, the machinery used or the conditions of employment of the staff.

Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that his new discriminating two-tier class postage system inflicts hardship on poor people, particularly old age pensioners; and if he will now revert to the former one-class system.

Mr. Stonehouse

Reversion to the previous system will mean that all our customers would have to pay 5d. on ordinary letters. The new system means that people can continue to send their less urgent letters for 4d.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Postmaster-General if he will state the number of overtime hours worked by postmen in a representative week before and after the new postal service for letters was introduced.

Mr. Stonehouse

The new service is still settling down, and the new pattern of working has not yet fully evolved. It is therefore too early to make a proper comparison.