§ On the Motion for Adjournment—
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
I desire to draw the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury, as representative of the Postmaster General, to the grave inconvenience and great loss sustained by the public generally, and especially the commercial classes, in regard to the irregular and late delivery of letters. The complaint is universal; it amounts in the opinion of most to a scandal in the departmental administration of this country in regard to such matters. I know many cases in which not only great inconvenience has been caused, but commercial loss has ensued in consequence of the non-delivery of drafts and commercial documents. I am aware that some of these inconveniences may have resulted, in a measure, from the change of the sorting site from St. Martin's-le-Grand to Mount Pleasant, but I hope we will have some assurance that that change is rapidly being consummated, and that this great cause of complaint will cease. One other point as to the earlier posting of letters now required. I believe that that does not apply to the whole of London, but only to the E.C. district, the great commercial centre, and it is causing great commercial inconvenience and, by loss of time, material loss as well. I hope the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Post Office, will be able to give a satisfactory assurance on the subject.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HANBURY,) Pres-
I have to express, on behalf of the Postmaster General, his great regret at the inconvenience that has undoubtedly accompanied the transfer of a great number of sorters from St. Martin's-le-Grand to Mount Pleasant. But I have seen the Postmaster General, who assures me that the inconvenience was only temporary, and has, in his opinion, come to an end. It has arisen from the necessary transfer, owing to want of space at St. Martin's-le-Grand, of 2,500 sorters—a very difficult task to undertake without some temporary inconvenience. I asked the Postmaster General if the inconvenience was due to any shortness of the staff', and he assured me that in no way was the inconvenience due to the shortness of the staff, that they had all the men they want, and that the accommodation at Mount Pleasant was better than at St. Martin's-le-Grand. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that as soon as the men have shaken down to their work the cause of complaint will cease. There is another change in the postal arrangements which I may refer to. The shortening of the hours for the late postage of letters must, I am afraid, be permanent. All the sorting of letters for the provinces is to be done at Mount Pleasant. Letters for London or abroad will still be sorted at St. Martin's-le-Grand. But, owing to the greater distance of Mount Pleasant from the E.C. district, letters cannot be posted at St. Martin's-le-Grand at the former hours. They will have to be posted a quarter of an hour earlier—at 7.30 instead of 7.45. My hon. friend is quite right in saying that the regulation as to the posting of letters in letter-boxes with a late fee only applies to the E.C. district, and not to the whole of London. The sole alteration is this—that these late letter's with the extra stamp cannot be posted in letter-boxes. It is found that the late fee letters form so small a proportion of those posted in these letterboxes that they do not compensate for the inconvenience and delay caused by sorting all the letters on their account. At all the post offices except St. Martin's-le-Grand it will still be possible to post letters with a late stamp.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
I thank the right hon. the Secretary to the Treasury for the satisfactory statement he has just made.
§ Adjourned at twenty-five minutes after Twelve of the clock.