asked the Postmaster General if he will give the dates upon which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South was promised a new central post office for the city of Stoke-on-Trent; to what extent plans have been prepared; and whether he will so modify them that the new post office shall be as modern and beautiful as the new post offices in the Royal Parade, Plymouth.
My researches show that the hon. Member was informed, in July, 1939, that the offer of a site in Campbell Place for a new central public office had been accepted. He was informed in August, 1951, that provision was being made in the 1952–53 Estimates for certain rebuilding. A review of the position had, however, resulted in a decision to abandon the plan for a new public office building in Stoke and to use our resources for the enlargement and modernisation of the post office at South Wolfe Street. I regret that the hon. Member has not been so informed until now.
Yes, Sir; I do not dissent in any way from what the hon. Gentleman says. We have to satisfy ourselves that the service that we give in our various offices is commensurate with the importance and activities of the place concerned, and that we have done in the case of Stoke-on-Trent.
Adequate services are already provided for most of these areas by two sub-offices in Trent Vale, by one in Hanford, and by one in the old part of Blurton. I am proposing to authorise a new sub-office at Newstead, and applications are now being invited from the occupiers of the shops recently built. The new offices in Plymouth are Crown post offices.
I do not know the difference between a Crown and a sub-post office—I plead guilty—but has the Minister seen the new post offices in Plymouth? Will he take it from me that they are a credit to whoever is responsible and, if they can have them in Plymouth, why should not we have them in Stoke-on-Trent?
We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his complimentary remarks about our efforts in Plymouth. In deciding where we will have Crown offices we have to consider whether they are justified by the weight of business, and whether sub-post offices will provide a better, more localised service for the people who want the services we have to offer.