The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the third reading of the Postage Duties Bill.
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he had given sufficient consideration to the details of the subject, so as to be able to state whether it were probable, that any general or partial experiment could be made on this subject before the House again met after the recess. It was of the utmost importance that this subject should be maturely considered. If the arrangements made to carry out the object of this bill should introduce any insecurity in the delivery of letters, it would afford greater encouragement than ever to the practice of illicit communication.
said, that undoubtedly, if he did not entertain a reasonable confidence, that this bill would be actually brought into operation between this and the next Session of Parliament, he thought he should not be acting fairly if he asked the House to pass the bill this year. He certainly anticipated that, before the next Session of Parliament, if the House were to meet at the usual time, he should be enabled to try the experiment. With respect to the mode of trying it, that undoubtedly was a matter of very great importance, not only on the ground stated by the right hon. Baronet, namely the se- curity of the delivery of letters, but also on the ground of security to the revenue, and also to the trades that might be involved in difficulty if they adopted any particular plan of trying this experiment, He could not say, that with respect to the mode of trying the experiment, the Government at the present moment were in possession of sufficient information to enable them to make up their minds as to the mode in which it could best be tried. He felt also that the measure must be accompanied with some provisions which should give a reasonable certainty of the safe delivery of letters. Without this, it would prove abortive. If they could not make the delivery of letters safe, it would be in vain to make it cheap. The best efforts of the Government should be applied for the purpose of securing the safe delivery of letters. Unless this were done, the plan would never prove satisfactory to the public.
said, that the plan of registration of letters, as recommended by Mr. Hill, would provide ample security for their safe delivery. They would be delivered with as much security as newspapers.
Bill read a third time.
On the motion that the bill do pass,
said, that the remark of the hon. Member for Bridport had rather alarmed him. The hon. Member said, that letters sent by post, and charged a penny, would be delivered as securely as Newspapers. There was a security with respect to newspapers which they had not with respect to letters. There were few persons who did not expect newspapers, and if they were not delivered properly they would go and make inquiry. There was, therefore, a positive check with respect to newspapers. But poor persons to whom letters were written, not expecting them would have no such motive for inquiry. He thought, that it would be a great obstruction to the advantages that were expected to accrue from this measure if it were attended with any insecurity. He thought, they might advantageously try the experiment in the first instance with the two-penny post in London, and with the experience of that trial, they might call upon Parliament to make the plan general. There was another point also to which the attention of the Government ought to be directed, namely, that they should not impose too much trouble upon the obtaining of stamps or stamped paper. With respect to the registration of letters, that he thought, would become a sort of privileged postage; the rich would pay, the poor would not. And the consequence would be, as now with the early delivery, to postpone the great mass of correspondence and to make unregistered letters more insecure.