I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the postage on newspapers in the British Central Africa Protectorate is the same as that of an ordinary half-ounce letter; whether he will take steps to reduce it to half the ordinary rate for newspapers duly registered at the Post Office as newspapers; whether he is aware that the rates charged for telegrams between different stations in the Protectorate are so high as to restrict the use of the telegraph; and will he inquire into the matter in view to reductions being made.
I am aware that the minimum charge for the conveyance of newspapers and letters in the British Central Africa Protectorate is the same; but in the case of newspapers, four ounces are conveyed for a penny; in the case of letters half-ounce is the limit. The officer administering the Government of the Protectorate will be consulted as to the possibility of a reduction in newspaper postage. As regards the second part of my hon. friend's Question, the cost of telegraph messages within the limits of the British Central Africa Protectorate and North-Eastern Rhodesia is 3d. per word with a minimum charge of 2s. 6d. No complaint has reached me that these rates are so high as to restrict the use of the telegraph. My hon. friend is, of course, aware that the telegraph wires are in the hands of a private company, and are not the property of the Government.