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Armed Forces: Postal Services

Volume 468: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the cost of the free postal service for troops announced on 12 November will be paid by (a) Royal Mail and (b) the British Forces Post Office; and if he will make a statement. (165886)

The Ministry of Defence does not maintain details on the cost to Defence of providing a postal service to operational theatres as the value varies according to the volume of mail presented. If volume rises significantly then costs will increase exponentially due to additional air charter and personnel deployment costs.

For illustrative reasons, the current full commercial cost of sending a 2 kg airmail packet to Iraq or Afghanistan via Royal Mail is £20.72. If this cost is taken as being representative of the total cost of sending a 2 kg package to Iraq or Afghanistan then the Ministry of Defence was paying 69 per cent. prior to the introduction of the freepost service on 3 September. The remaining 31 per cent. was paid by the consigner. As a result of the extension of the freepost service jointly announced with Royal Mail on 12 November, the Royal Mail will fund approximately 15.5 per cent. of the illustrative cost, with Ministry of Defence funding the remaining 84.5 per cent.