The following error was returned:. This content has already been edited and is awaiting review. David Griffiths Rother Valley.
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Raising this Adjournment debate tonight reminds me of a very old trade union friend of mine many years ago. He had rather a delicate problem to deal with and addressed the chairman as follows. Chairman, I realise that I am kicking uphill, that the wind is against me and that to all intents and purposes the referee does not look as if he is inclined to be very favourable. This is a case of which the Assistant Postmaster-General and his Department are fully aware, particularly in view of the publicity which has been given to it, although in all modesty I should say that it has not been of my volition.
This lady, like many other people, has for a long time been sending football pool coupons to various pool firms. For many years this lady has sent her coupons on a Friday evening from Rotherham. On the occasion in question her coupon unfortunately went to Doncaster. Consequently, by the time it had been redirected it did not reach the office in Liverpool until Monday, when it was too late. The lady did not know that her coupon had gone astray until she applied to Littlewoods.
Their representative called on her and said that the letter had arrived too late and, unfortunately, Littlewoods rules did not permit payment to be made in those circumstances, although they accepted the fact that her coupon had been correctly made out. One can appreciate this lady's dismay on receiving that news from Littlewoods representative.
This is a poor humble woman who has to go out to work to maintain her home and her sick husband, a state of affairs which has gone on for a long time. I can assure the House that if this were a case in which I felt there were not only moral but legal rights involved I should not leave the case alone.
However, I accept that there is no financial obligation on the Postmaster-General. But surely the Department has a moral obligation in this case. There are no rules governing the Post Office such as govern Littlewoods Pools. In addition, the Postmaster-General is responsible for his employees and he must accept that a member of his Department has been at fault. I would be the last to criticise any man for making an error. I appreciate that the Department has many problems to solve in dealing with letters going through the post morning, noon and night.
I can accept that, but I cannot, on the other hand, accept the argument which the Postmaster-General advances, that he has no obligation. I feel that he has a moral obligation. I agree that he cannot, according to the Statute, admit a financial obligation. I am making my personal appeal to him on behalf of my constituent. But it is more than that. One can readily understand that many of these mistakes are made.
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As the hon. Gentleman will know, I am sure, my mail has been quite formidable since it was reported in the Press that I was taking up this case. But, I submit, no case sent to me has been so glaring or so worthy of some compensation as this. I can anticipate the reply of the Assistant Postmaster-General. He will say that to accept my request would be to open the door. I have had a lot to do with the hon. Gentleman and, if I may say so, I have got on with him fairly well.
Although I have a lot to say about the Tory Party at times, I should not like to think too badly of the Post Office, and I am sure that he can get round the difficulty quite easily, as we have done in industry for years. If I were in a position of responsibility, I should do exactly as I am suggesting now to the Assistant Postmaster-General.
Without violating any principle whatever, he could make a token payment to this lady. It would not prejudice the issue. It has been done in thousands of cases, not only in industry but in Government Departments as well. If one Government Department can do it, another Government Department can do it. I do not want to weary the House, but I do not want it to be thought that a lack of words indicates any lack of importance in this case.
Many hon. Members sometimes make long speeches on matters which, on the merits of the case and the sincerity of their views, would call for fewer words than I shall speak tonight.
But I submit that it is not only a matter of what I feel about this case. It has had very wide publicity in the national Press. There was a reference to it in yesterday's Sunday Express. I should not like to accuse the hon. What is said here is typical of the Sunday Express , as it is perhaps of many national newspapers. In its leading article, it said: "What a wonderful spring this could have been for Mrs.
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The Sunday Express goes on to say that whilst the G. Bower is thinking of suing the Post Office. That, however, is an error. I assure the Assistant Postmaster-General that it is far from true, because she has not sufficient money even to see a solicitor, let alone sue the Post Office. It then asks why the pools company does not give her the cash. In the same way as the Post Office attempts to do, however, the pools company must have rules to save itself from any malpractice.
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