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Special Stamps

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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asked the Postmaster-General whether he will introduce the stamps commemorating the Norman Conquest to coincide with the opening of the Berkhamsted Pageant on 3rd June; and if he will ensure that one of the issue will relate to the offering of the Crown to William at Berkhamsted.

These stamps will be issued on 14th October and it is impossible to bring the date forward to 3rd June. The designs have not yet been selected but are unlikely to include one depicting the incident referred to by the hon. Gentleman.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Norman Conquest is of considerably greater interest, historically, than the Battle of Hastings? Why is it that he concentrates so much on the defeat and destruction of Harold?

I thought that the last Harold to get one in the eye from a Frenchman was the Harold at the Chateau of Rambouillet at the end of the Common Market negotiations. It was decided that this would commemorate the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and I think that it had better rest like that.


asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for issuing a Learn to Swim postage stamp; what will be its design and its value; and when it will be on sale to the public.

I have no plans to issue such a stamp in this year's programme, but I shall keep my hon. and learned Friend's suggestion in mind for the future.

Does not the Minister appreciate the relationship between physical fitness and intellectual alertness? Is not this an admirable way to encourage both?

Since I enjoy neither I am not sure that I am qualified to say. There were 90 suggestions made and it was not possible to pick all of them. I certainly do not rule out subjects of this kind.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why we must have this ludicrous number of new stamps?

Stamp policy has always been controversial. The Penny Black was described by The Times in 1840 as a disgrace and discredit to our country. The hon. Gentleman is one of a small group of "misatelists".


asked the Postmaster-General if he will issue a national stamp for Wales commemorating Robert Owen.

I shall be glad to consider my hon. Friend's suggestion for any future issue featuring distinguished men and women but I do not envisage any such stamp being restricted to Wales.

While appreciating my right hon. Friend's reply, may I ask whether he realises that Robert Owen was a hundred years ahead of his time in his social thinking? Ought not the Postmaster-General to recognise this in the way that I have suggested?

The criteria for stamps is now wide enough to include the addition of distinguished men and women from our history, and I will certainly consider this.

Is the Minister aware that Robert Owen did far more for this country than William the Conqueror?

Is the Minister aware that Robert Owen died a disillusioned Socialist?

I cannot remember offhand what happened to William I, but I dare say that he had some difficulties as well.


asked the Postmaster-General how many designs were submitted for the 4d. stamp portraying Sussex; what the design is intended to convey; what is the age of the artist, and where he lives; if he is aware that the stamp is printed in unattractive and sickly colours; and if he will withdraw it immediately.

Five designs were submitted; that chosen shows a view near Hassocks. The artist is 52 and lives in London.

I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman's criticism of the stamp and I do not intend to withdraw it.

Can the Minister say who chose this dreadful doodle and why did they choose it? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why he picked on Sussex, of all the beautiful counties in England? May I not press him to withdraw this horrid stamp?

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows very well, not all stamps will be liked by everyone. He provided the beautiful Simon de Montfort seal which was used in the Parliament stamp, and which was widely welcomed. However, there were even critics of that. One has to trust the very careful advisory procedure followed before stamps are chosen.