HC Deb 21 March 1881 vol 259 cc1493-4

asked the Postmaster General, Whether, by one of their rules, Letter-carriers are "allowed to receive, and indeed respectfully to ask for, Christmas Boxes;" whether, in the Circular Memorandum of the 22nd of March, 1865, the Metropolitan Letter-carriers were reminded that— They received from the public in gratuities at Christmas a sum which, if divided and spread over the whole year, would produce on an average 5s. a week for each man; whether he is aware that these gratuities are, in a great number of cases, asked for and paid with equal reluctance; and, whether, under the circumstances, he is prepared to abolish a system of private gratuities in part payment of public services, and to replace it by an equivalent addition to the weekly wages of the Letter-carriers?


It is the case, as stated in the Question of my hon. Friend, that a Circular was issued in 1865, in which it was estimated that letter-carriers received on an average 5s. a-week in Christmas-boxes. I think this estimate was formed on very insufficient data, and I really feel it is impossible for me to say whether the estimate was or was not correct. I believe that in the majority of cases these Christmas-boxes are not given reluctantly. I certainly think that, even if they were prohibited, the public would still continue to give them. Under these circumstances, I am not prepared to advise their prohibition. However, I fully recognize that it would be most undesirable for any letter-carrier to solicit Christmas-boxes with importunity; and I, just before last Christmas, issued a Circular expressing this opinion to the letter-carriers throughout the country. I believe they acted upon it, because not a single complaint has reached the Post Office from any member of the public that they had been solicited with importunity.