HC Deb 16 March 1855 vol 137 cc639-40

said, he begged to ask the hon. Secretary of the Treasury, when it is likely that the public will be able to obtain stamped sheets of paper and private envelopes for free transmission by post; also to call attention to the fact, that his promises, on the part of the Government, that the recommendations contained in the Report on the Post Office, relative to the letter-carriers of the metropolis, should be speedily carried out, remain unfulfilled?


said, that the first question related to a matter of some importance to the public, and he was glad to have an opportunity of replying to it. There had been a great desire on the part of the public to be enabled to send to Somerset House paper and envelopes to be stamped with postage stamps; but there was a doubt whether, under the Act establishing the penny post, any paper could be used except that with a thread drawn through it, as directed by the Act. The Government had taken the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, and they had reported that no such precaution need be used, and the Treasury had given authority to the Board of Inland Revenue at once to stamp paper and envelopes, and he had today signed a minute directing immediate preparation to be made for that purpose. When, however, he stated that 8,500,000 of these stamped envelopes passed through the post every week, the House would see that it would take some time to prepare the requisite machinery before the stamps could with safety be delivered to the public. The Board of Inland Revenue had stated, that in two months they considered that they would be ready to receive paper and envelopes for stamping. It was obvious that much inconvenience to the machinery would arise from the stamping of small quantities, and it was necessary to put some limit to the quantity sent in at once. It was proposed that if not less than 10l. worth of stamps, or 2,400 of them, were sent in at one time, they would be stamped free of any charge except the duty; but if smaller quantities were sent in, a fee of 1s. would be payable for the trouble and expense of altering the machinery. With respect to the second portion of the question asked by the hon. Gentleman, he had to state that the preliminary arrangements for carrying the recommendations of the Treasury respecting the letter-carriers into effect would be completed to-morrow, and the arrangement with regard to the additional payment would take place after the 31st of that month.