HC Deb 17 January 1840 vol 51 cc126-7
Sir R. Peel,

seeing the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his place, wished to inquire whether he could name any period when the stamped covers would be introduced? He, likewise, wished to know whether, in the event of there being a likelihood of any great delay, it might not be possible to introduce the stamped covers within the metropolitan district? Also he was desirous of ascertaining whether, with the introduction of the stamped covers, there would be any alteration in the time of delivery, so that the public might receive their letters as formerly, at an early period of the day?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

felt a difficulty in fixing a definite period for the introduction of the stamped covers. The delay had not arisen from his being unable to introduce stamped covers with facility, but from the circumstance of its being of the utmost importance to introduce such stamps as would effectually prevent the danger of forgery. That crime, he rejoiced to say, was rapidly disappearing from the country; but it still was necessary to provide against it by applying as many checks as possible, and to do this it was necessary to make a number of experiments. Experiments had been made, and it was found easy to apply the checks on a small scale; but when applied to numbers amounting to millions, it became more difficult to complete the working of the whole machinery. Experiments were now going on, and he trusted the business would be completed in about six weeks. With respect to the second question, as to the introduction in the first instance of the stamps into the London districts, he would not say, positively, that that plan would be adopted, for the main hitch in bringing the whole machinery into operation, was applicable to London as well as to the country at large. He thought, however, that such an arrangement might probably be adopted for a short time. With respect to the third point, the time of delivery, the delay had arisen from the increased pressure upon the Post-office department, and though it had been the object of the Government to try the experiment with no niggardly increase of force, it unfortunately had happened that the simultaneous arrival of fourteen foreign mails had caused an unexpected delay. But he was in hopes that, with a small increase of force, and when the whole business should be better arranged, all difficulties would be removed, and the public would experience no disappointment in the delivery of their letters.

Mr. Goulburn

inquired whether the Government contemplated any new arrangement with regard to the transmission of Bills. The present charge of one penny a sheet he deemed excessive.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

replied, that as that was a question relating particularly to the proceedings of the House, it was for the House to deal with it. After the fullest consideration, it had been deemed expedient to fix the lowest possible rate of postage, and not to give special advantages to any particular class of communications. If, however, the House should decide that this privilege should be extended to the communications of the House, and not to those of the several Government departments, it would only remain for him to yield to that decision.