said, he begged to inquire whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Ministers to avail themselves of the present vacancy to abolish the office of Postmaster General, and to appoint a Chairman responsible to the Treasury, in conformity with the more economical and practical system which obtains in the other great departments of public revenue—namely, the Customs, Excise, Stamps, and Taxes?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The Post Office is to a certain degree, no doubt, an office of revenue, inasmuch as the Post Office service produces a certain amount of revenue to the country, although not very large. But I consider that the Post Office differs very essentially from those departments which are purely and mainly employed in the collection of revenue. The Post Office is rather an office of administration than an office of revenue. Of late years it has been the opinion of those in this House who have most turned their attention to these matters, that the main duty of the Post Office is not to collect revenue for the public, but to effect easily and readily the cheap transmission of correspondence for the convenience of the public, and for the promotion of the commercial interests of the country. I look upon that as being the main object of the Post Office Department, and that it has executive functions rather than mere functions of revenue. It appears to me, from these circumstances, that the Post Office should be a department connected with the political and responsible advisers of the Crown, and that it would not be for the public interest to separate it from the Administration of the day by placing it upon the same footing as the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments. I do not think that any economy would result from the change, and considerable inconvenience might arise from the department being disconnected with the responsible Government of the day.