§ MR. NORTHCOTE
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, If post cards are purchased by the Post Office by number or by weight; if it is the case that in all tenders called for by the Stationery Office it is stipulated that the goods to be delivered shall be free from day; if the attention of the Postmaster General has been called to a report that the post cards received from Germany are said to contain 28 per cent of clay; and, if any analysis of the composition of German post cards has been made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government; and, if not, if he will cause such an analysis to be made?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. H. H. FOWLER)
Post cards are supplied to the Inland Revenue Department (which is charged with the manufacture of stamps) by numbers and by bulk, not by weight. It is not the case that, in all tenders, the Stationery Office stipulates that goods supplied to them shall be free from clay. The post cards are supplied to us by Messrs. de la Rue in a complete state as issued to the public, under a contract which in no way binds the contractors to the place or country whence they obtain the material from which the cards are made. We look entirely to the post cards as completed being suitable for the Post Office Service, and up to the standard of the sample originally agreed upon. This matter formed a subject of inquiry during the last Session of Parliament, and was exhaustively dealt with by the late Mr. Fawcett, in his reply to 1525 Mr. Northcote (3 Hansard,  1862), and by letters to the public Press (The Times, October 27, 1884). A certain proportion of clay, while not adding really to its thickness, is of importance as giving firmness and evenness, and rendering the post card fitter for writing and for printing. Early last year the attention of the Inland Revenue was called to a report that the post cards contained clay. Though this did not affect the question of bulk, a crucial examination was made, which proved that the cards were fully up to the standard of thickness, and that they completely met all the requirements of the Post Office Service. No chemical analysis has been made of the paper which is now used, which is considered to be, if anything, superior in thickness and in quality to the standard laid down; and in these circumstances it is not proposed to make any analysis.