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Post Office

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1943

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Aircraft Facilities

24. Mr.

asked the Postmaster-General, in view of the development of the helicopter and reversible airscrew, what plans he has prepared for aircraft to take off and alight from the roof tops of the post offices in the centres of the chief cities in Great Britain in order that postal services may be modernized and expedited?

I am keeping a close watch on the developments to which the hon. Member refers, but, so far as I am aware, they have not yet reached a stage at which the use of helicopters for the conveyance of mails can be considered as a practical proposition.

In view of the developments that are taking place, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman consider the position, so that this country shall be ready to take advantage of those developments as they mature?

Business Reply Service

25. Mr.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has yet decided to terminate the Business Reply Postal Service; and whether, in view of the great convenience to business which this service provides, he will, before taking any action, consult with representatives of business?

Yes, Sir. It has already been decided to suspend the Business Reply Postal Service as from 1st August next, and a notice to that effect was issued 10 the Press on 21st April. Full consideration was given to the effect of the proposal on the various business interests concerned before the decision was taken. I realise that a certain amount of inconvenience may be caused to large users, but, as I explained during the Budget Debate, this and certain other services are being withdrawn in order that the Post Office may make further savings in man-power in the interests of the war effort.

Transatlantic Telegraph Services

26. Mr.

asked the Post master-General whether he has considered the use of seadromes for speeding up cable communication across the Atlantic; and what action he is proposing to take in this matter?

The Transatlantic telegraph services are operated by telegraph companies. These companies keep abreast of technical developments and are not slow to adopt them wherever practicable.

Radio Receivers (Private Motor Cars)


asked the Postmaster-General whether he will now permit the installation of radio receivers in private motor-cars?

Is his decision based on security reasons or lack of equipment?

India (Mails)


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the many complaints resulting from the failure of men serving in India to receive their letters in a reasonable time; and whether he has any statement to make?

As regards the transmission of letters from the United Kingdom to India, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer (of which I am sending him a copy) given by my predecessor to the hon. and gallant Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Wickham) on 15th December last. I am glad to say, however, that since then increased aircraft capacity has become available, with the result that the Post Office has been able to speed up the Airgraph service. The Gd. Forces Air letter with air transmission throughout which was introduced on the 7th December has also effected a considerable improvement in the postal facilities to the Forces in India. The Post Office is not, of course, responsible for the arrangements for the delivery of correspondence to members of the Forces serving in India after its arrival in India, but I am taking steps to bring these complaints to the notice of the authorities concerned.

Museum Telephone Exchange

30. Mr.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will attempt, by increase of staff, conversion to the automatic system, or other means, to improve the service of the Museum telephone exchange?

The service at Museum exchange is unfortunately not up to standard. This is largely due to the fact that the equipment is relatively old and difficult to maintain. But for the war, the exchange would have been converted already to automatic working. The installation of automatic equipment was held up for some time owing to war exigencies but is now proceeding. It is, however, unlikely to be completed before the spring of 1944. In the meantime, the Post Office is taking what steps it can to improve the operating efficiency of the Exchange.

Belgian Children (Food Supplies)

31. Mr.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he is aware of the heavy mortality among Belgian children due to serious shortage of food; and whether he will grant navicerts to permit, under proper control as to its distribution, the entry into Belgium of say 2,000 to 3,000 tons a month of vitamins, milk and medicine, to be supplied to children under 16 years of age and nursing and expectant mothers?

While it is, I regret to say, true that the food shortage in Belgium is felt severely by the child population, my information does not confirm that, taking the country as a whole, these conditions have caused any striking increase in child as distinct from infant mortality. According to statistics recently published in Belgium there was, last year, a fall in the death-rate of infants under one year of age. The figures for deaths per thousand live births were in 1939, 73; in 1940, 89; in 1941, 85; and in 1942, 78. As regards milk and vitamins I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 19th May to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson). Medical supplies in the strict sense of the term are and always have been allowed to pass through the blockade.

Axis Prisoners Of War (Pay)


asked the Secretary of State for War the rates of exchange used in calculating the payment of Italian and German officer prisoners of war?

As required by the International Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, rates of exchange have been agreed with the Governments concerned at 15 Reichsmarks to the £ and 72 lire to the £.

Invalided African Soldiers


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will outline the conditions ruling in respect of leave pay and pension received by enlisted African soldiers on being invalided out of the Imperial services through wounds or sickness; whether these conditions are similar in all African Colonies; and whether he is satisfied that they are reasonable?

The conditions ruling in respect of leave pay are determined by the local commanders and particulars are not available in London. I am obtaining them and will communicate with my hon., gallant and learned Friend as soon as possible. As regards pensions, the position is too complicated to set out within the scope of a Parliamentary answer, but I will send my hon., gallant and learned Friend a memorandum on the subject.

Public Health (Pasteurised Milk)


asked the Minister of Health whether he will make Regulations providing for all vessels from and in which pasteurised milk is sold to the public to be labelled accordingly?

The special conditions relating to pasteurised milk contained in the Milk (Special Designations) Order, 1936, provide that every vessel in which the milk is transported or exposed or offered for sale shall bear a suitable label with the words "Pasteurised milk."