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Post Office

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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Sunday Collection, Merionethshire

40.

asked the Postmaster-General when he proposes to arrange for a Sunday collection of letters at Dolgelley and other towns in the County of Merioneth?

This matter will he pursued, in the event of the provision of a suitable train service. I should not feel justified in asking the railway company to open the line specially on Sundays in order to afford a despatch of letters.

Sub-Postmasters (Salaries)

41.

asked the Postmaster-General when he will be able to announce his decision on the salary claim of the salaried sub-postmasters?

This claim was settled some months ago, and the decision duly promulgated.

Empire Wireless Chain

42.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the nature of the contract made between the Australian Government and the Marconi Australian Wireless Com- pany; has the British Post Office any share in the arrangement; and what means are now proposed to bring Australia into the British Government's Empire wireless chain?

The contract in question is too long to summarise in an answer to the hon. Member's question, but I shall be happy to show him a copy of it for his private information if he so desires. The British Post, Office has no share in the arrangement, except to the extent that the contract contemplates communication with a station in this country, and that for the erection of such a station the cooperation of the British Post Office, in some form or other, is necessary. The bearing of the contract upon the Empire Wireless Scheme is under the consideration of the Government.

Is it a fact that Australia is definitely out of the Empire Wireless Scheme?

43.

asked the Postmaster-General whether the conference with the Canadian Government regarding the Empire wireless chain, which was announced as about to take place more than a year ago, has yet been held; and what is Canada's present relationship towards the Empire wireless project of the British Post Office?

Informal conversations only have so far taken place. The Canadian Government will shortly send two technical representatives to discuss the whole subject with representatives of His Majesty's Government, and, after these discussions have taken place, it will be possible to describe the relationship of Canada towards the Empire Wireless Scheme.

Circulars Posted Abroad

44.

asked the Postmaster-General whether the Post Office has recently delivered a large number of circulars nominally issued from the office of the Alpine Sports, Limited, 5, Endsleigh Gardens, London, but actually posted on the Continent; and, if so, seeing that the effect of this procedure is to divert the entire proceeds of the sale of the stamps into a foreign Treasury, and to throw the whole cost of the handling and delivery in this country upon British taxpayers, whether he has any means of preventing or discouraging such methods of securing private gain at public expense?

A large number of circulars issued by Alpine Sports, Limited, and by the Free Church Touring Guild, have recently been received in the mails from Austria. The excuse for this practice has hitherto been the increase in the printed papers rate. As the postage on inland printed papers has now been reduced to the pre-War rate of ½d., I hope the firms concerned will discontinue the practice they have thought fit to adopt; should this continue, it may be necessary to ask Parliament to grant additional powers in order that this practice may cease.

May I ask whether we are to understand that the excuse the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned is accepted by the Post Office as adequate and satisfactory?

Town Sub-Offices

63.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will state the names of the town sub-offices which come within the provisions of paragraph 936 of the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Servants, 1913, which was presided over by Mr. R. D. Holt whether he will state which of these offices have been converted, and why the remaining sub-offices have not been dealt with in accordance with the recommendation which was accepted by the then Postmaster-General; whether the withdrawal of telegraph delivery from some of the more important of these sub-offices will, by reducing the emoluments, have the effect of placing such offices outside the application of the recommendations; and whether he will state when, and in what order, he will be willing to convert these offices into Crown offices with an established staff?

I have no list of the offices referred to, nor of those in which the Select Committee's recommendation was carried out. The policy of conversion was suspended owing to the War. I am not prepared at present to resume it except in cases where special reasons for conversion exist. The withdrawal of telegraph delivery will in some cases have the effect stated.

Parcel Post

64 and 65.

asked the Postmaster-General (1) if he will state, approximately, what volume of the parcel post is now carried by the railways and also what proportion of the postage is paid to the railway companies for their services; whether, in view of the urgency of a cheaper parcel post service, any revision of the charges paid to the railway companies is possible; if so, does he propose to obtain such revision at an early date;

(2) whether any of the motor-van services, which the Post Office established before the War, between London and adjacent towns of 50 to 100 miles distance have been re-established or if it is the intention to do so; whether these motor-van services helped considerably in providing a cheaper parcel post service before the War; and will he consider this or any other means of giving a cheaper parcel post service at the present time?

Rather more than 90 per cent. of the parcel post is carried over the whole or part of its journey by rail. As the result of negotiations, which have recently been concluded with the railway companies, the companies have agreed to accept 40 per cent. of the postage on railway-borne parcels, as compared with 55 per cent. which was payable to them under the Parcel Post Act of 1882, and a Bill to confirm this agreement will. shortly be introduced. In consideration of this reduction in the proportion of the postage payable to the companies, the Post Office agrees not to re-establish the parcel coaches or otherwise to transfer parcel mails to road transport.

The parcel post is at present carried on on an unremunerative basis, and I regret that it is not. possible to offer any reduction in the postage rates.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage of the loss on the parcel post was incurred in connection with the motor service?

I shall be glad to get my hon. Friend that information, but I am afraid I cannot give it at the moment.