I very much regret delay which has occurred in the post between Exeter and London. The main cause has been shortage of staff in some of our London offices. We are doing all we can to recruit additional staff; and meanwhile to keep delays to a minimum. I am glad to say that the service now is generally better than when the hon. Gentleman wrote to my right hon. Friend in November and December last.
I accept the hon. Gentleman's statement, but will he bear in mind that those dealing with export orders are concerned about this complaint and that it is very important that he should do all in his power to ensure that the service is of the highest possible standard?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I am very much alive to the fact that an efficient postal service is vital to the well-being of industry and of the community at large. We are doing all we can to overcome staff shortages, but the recruitment of additional staff is not easy.
The postmen were given a provisional increase in pay last July and it was back-dated to the previous 1st January. A special research group is now carrying out a survey into the pay of postmen and I think that until this is completed it would be wrong for me to say anything more.