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New Clause. — (Commercial Account.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Post Office and Telegraph (Money) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th June 1952.

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Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West 12:00 am, 26th June 1952

I intervened in one stage of this discussion to mention one or two questions regarding Oldham, and I think it might be convenient to mention them briefly now. It seems to me that we are entitled to know how it is proposed to spend this money. Up to now we have had very little information as to its prospective allocation. We are told that it is for the capital development of the Post Office, for periodic grants and that the money voted last time has not yet all been spent, but will be in a limited space of time.

We have been given no information whatever except on the basis of the curious figure of percentages when we were told that 90 per cent. was being allocated to some form of telephone service. We were given no information as to what are the plans of the Assistant Postmaster-General. The difficulty is, of course, that the Postmaster-General is a Member of another place and we do not have the privilege of hearing him. Therefore, we have to rely solely on vicarious statements in this House.

I want the Assistant Postmaster-General to realise that once he was committed to the proposition that capital development in the Post Office should be diminished, and once he was committed to accepting the dictation of the Treasury and the decision to slow down all this development and to cancel many projects, the whole question of priorities became a new question altogether. The House is entitled to be told how it is going to be handled now.

Twelve months ago in Oldham there were several thousand applications for telephones outstanding, and some were of quite vital importance. At that time we were told in a speech at the local Rotary Club by a distinguished Post Office official that the whole of the lag would be taken up by June of this year. As I understand it, if there had been no change of Government, that might very well have been the case. [Laughter.] I do not know what is the meaning of that interjection. This was an official statement made by the Post Office of what was going to happen in the programme then being carried on so efficiently by my right hon. Friend the then Postmaster-General.