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Australian Gift Parcels

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the sending of food parcels to individuals from Australia is being discouraged by the high postage charges which often exceed the value of the contents, and by the delay in their distribution after arrival; and if he will consider taking steps to remedy this state of affairs.

I am aware that the justification for the present postage rates on gift food parcels sent from Australia to this country has been questioned in Australia. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that that portion of the postage paid in Australia which, by agreement between the two administrations, is credited to the United Kingdom for conveyance, handling and delivery in this country, does not fully cover the costs incurred by the British Post Office. The possibility of making a concession by the British Post Office foregoing some part of its share of the postage has recently been reviewed, and I am satisfied that I should not be justified in making any concession for this section of the traffic. I am not aware that any undue delay in delivery occurs after receipt in the United Kingdom, but it is inevitable that some few days must be occupied in passing this very heavy volume of traffic, which arrives at irregular intervals, through the Postal Customs depots. I should be happy to investigate any specific case of delay if the hon. and gallant Member will let me have full particulars.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a strong feeling in Australia that it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to discourage the sending of gifts to individuals in this country?

I do not think that is so. As I have said, we have gone fully into this matter, but we feel that we cannot do more than we are doing at the moment.