Sub-Postmasters

Oral Answers to Questions — Post Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1951.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant , Wokingham 12:00 am, 24th January 1951

asked the Postmaster-General what steps he is taking to review the remuneration of sub-postmasters; and when he anticipates making a statement.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

This matter is under discussion with the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, and I regret I am not at present in a position to make any statement on the subject.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant , Wokingham

This has been under discussion for some time. Is the Postmaster-General aware that owing to the long hours worked in the telegraphic sub-post offices, and the low pay, sub-post offices are rapidly becoming known as sweat shops?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

As these matters are the result of freely negotiated agreements, and another agreement is now being negotiated, it would be quite improper for me to make any comment in the House.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Bristol North West

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that sub-postmasters, who give their services in the villages, are so tied to their jobs that it is very difficult for them to attend such conferences? Will he inquire in some of the remote villages what they think about it?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

I have been to some of these conferences and it is not difficult for them to get there, as I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant , Wokingham

asked the Postmaster-General the number of resignations by sub-postmasters during the last convenient 12 months; and the number of sub-post offices now awaiting the appointment of a sub-postmaster.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

There were 1,606 resignations during 1950 and 287 vacancies at the end of the year.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant , Wokingham

Would the Postmaster-General not agree that if he would disgorge a little of his excessive profit, he would find it much easier to fill the posts?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

There is a tremendous change over in all forms of industry, and the change over is not really excessive.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

asked the Postmaster-General if his attention has been drawn to the recent protest meeting organised by the Eastern District Council of the National Federation of sub-postmasters on 10th December, 1950, to protest against the loss of mail work as a result of plans for the motorisation in rural areas; and whether he has any proposals to make for compensation to sub-postmasters.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

Yes, Sir. 1 am always ready to consider on its merits any case in which a sub-postmaster's remuneration is due to be reduced on account of reduction of work and serious hardship would result.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean, with reference to his answer to the last sentence of my Question, that in suitable cases he admits the principle of compensation?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

Not the principle of compensation. But where a widow is looking after a sub-post office and, by taking certain work away from her, there is likely to be considerable financial hardship, I am prepared to look at the matter, and, if possible, effect some sort of compromise to relieve her hardship. I cannot, however, agree to the principle of compensation.