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Post Office

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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Service Personnel, Singapore (Postage Rates)


asked the Postmaster-General why members of His Majesty's Forces serving in Singapore now have to pay full postage rates on all letters sent home; and if he will make a statement.

The postage rates on letters from the Forces in Singapore are fixed by the local administration which is now responsible for the postal service from the Forces in its territory. I understand that letters from the Forces in Singapore not exceeding one ounce in weight are despatched to the United Kingdom by air for 1½d. This is the air postage rate for letters of this weight from the Forces now in force in most areas overseas, and is much cheaper that the rates charged on similar letters from civilians. The Singapore administration requires payment at the ordinary postage rates on all letters dispatched by surface means.

In. view of the fact that we are making about £36 million a year out of the Post Office, can the Minister say when we are going to recapture the old maxim of production for use and not for profit?

Australian Gift Parcels


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.

New Zealand (Assisted Immigration Scheme)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether a statement can now be made as to assisted migration to new Zealand.

At the request of the New Zealand Government, negotiations have recently taken place on this subject. The original basis of the negotiations was the conclusion of agreements similar to those made with Australia whereby the United Kingdom Government would provide free passages for former members of the United Kingdom Forces and would share with the Dominion Government the cost of passages for other categories of migrants, less a proportion to be borne by the migrants themselves. In the course of the discussions, however, the New Zealand Government intimated that, in present conditions, they were willing to find all governmental contributions in respect of passages for both categories. They accordingly offered to meet the full cost of passages in the case of ex-Service migrants and the full cost less £10 to be paid by the migrants themselves in other cases. The United Kingdom Government gratefully accepted this generous offer.

The New Zealand Government have now announced their intention of opening schemes on the above basis. For the time being, the schemes will generally be limited to men and women between the ages of 20 and 35 who are either single or widowed and without dependent children and are willing to engage for a period of two years in certain selected occupations. Full particulars as to the schemes, including the date of their opening and the types of migrants desired, will be announced in due course by the New Zealand authorities. The House will, I am sure, be glad to know that these arrangements have been made, and will welcome the very liberal attitude which the New Zealand Government have adopted.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the burden of this scheme seems to fall exclusively on the New Zealand Government, and are not His Majesty's Government going to make a substantial contribution in order that migration can be further advanced?

The New Zealand Government quite voluntarily made this proposal, and, as I said in my original statement, this generous offer was accepted.