§ 20. Mr. Kenneth Lewis
asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for regionalising Post Office services; how many main post offices will be reduced in status in any such plan; and what will be the total manpower and financial saving.
§ Mr. Benn
The Post Office has been organised on a Regional basis for 30 years. Within each region the local units of management for postal and telegraph work are vested in nearly 450 Head Post Office areas. Amalgamations are made where this would lead to economy without loss of efficiency or adversely affecting services to the public. On average each such amalgamation saves about three staff and reduces costs by about £4,000 a year.
§ Mr. Lewis
The House might agree that the last part of that Answer somewhat contradicted the first. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the changes which he is making to bring certain smaller towns under the control of larger towns cause a certain public reaction and that people are concerned about whether they will get the kind of personal service to which they have been used? I would like an assurance that my town of Stamford will get the same personal service which it has always had.
§ Mr. Benn
I am very well aware that questions of local pride and interest are involved when there is a change of this kind. For that reason it has been the custom of Postmasters-General to write to the Members concerned when such a change is to be made in order to explain that it has nothing to do with the services offered, but is purely an act of managerial amalgamation, which, for human reasons, is normally done only when head postmasters retire and a vacancy creates the opportunity. However, I must tell the House that if the Post Office management is to be as efficient in future as is required, these amalgamations will tend to go on with increasing rapidity. They will not 138 affect the service, but they will permit us to concentrate our administrative work in fewer centres.