23. Mr. J. T. Price
asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will exercise his powers under Section 11(4) of the Post Office Act 1969 to secure the cessation of the undue discrimination exercised against Horwich, Lancashire, a township of 16,670 inhabitants, by the downgrading of its Crown post office, the refusal of the request of the urban district council for further consultations, and the adverse effect on industrial development of the inferior service consequent on the downgrading.
Arising out of that totally unsatisfactory answer to what was a serious Question from me, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give further thought to the point I raised with him; namely, the downgrading of a large industrial area, Horwich, in the North of England, which has a population of 16,200, to the status of a sub-post office? 19 Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously believe that after all the complaints which have been made by his supporters in the Conservative Party about the arrogance of bureaucracy and the overwhelming insensibility of the bureaucratic machine, it is right for him to give me a reply which is as unsatisfactory as the one he has just given? Is he aware that Horwich is a large town in the North of England and not in the backwoods of Canada? May I have a straightforward answer, and will he please see the Director-General of the Post Office Corporation and have a good talk to him about his vanity?
§ Mr. Chataway
Under the Post Office Act, of which the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) is such a defender, responsibility in this matter rests primarily with the Post Office and not with me. I am informed by the Post Office that there is absolutely no reason why regrading in the interests of economy and efficiency should result in an inferior service.
On a point of order. Are you aware, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the Post Office Act as though he had no powers in this matter when certain powers are vested—[Interruption.]—in the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications? Are you aware that it is quite wrong of him to make the sort of allegation which he has been making because it is not constitutionally correct?