§ Mr. John Mackay
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has received the Post Office Users National Council report concerning postal tariff increases; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Adam Butler
I share the concern of the Post Office Users National Council about the burden the Post Office's proposed increases will impose on private and commercial customers, and I regret that they should be necessary. However, I accept that the chairman of the Post Office must take such steps as are required to meet its financial objectives.
The increases have been made necessary primarily by the wage settlements reached this year with postal employees. If wage increases are not paid for through increased productivity, they must inevitably result in reduced services or lead to increased tariffs unless they are financed by the taxpayer, and the Government are not prepared to accept the last course. I am convinced there is considerable scope for improvements in the efficiency and productivity of the postal business with consequent benefit to the customer, and I trust that all concerned will work actively to ensure the success of the chairman's two-year action plan to improve productivity as the best way of holding down costs.