§ MR. H. WATT (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he can state the surplus Revenue now derived from the Penny Postage; whether he can give an estimate of the loss which would result from the establishment of a halfpenny rate for letters throughout the United. Kingdom; and whether, provided the Government do not see their way to reduce the minimum rates of postage for letters and newspapers throughout the United Kingdom, he will consider the practicability of adopting local rates of a halfpenny for letters and one farthing for circulars, newspapers, &c., which might be calculated on a reduced limit of weight, and it is estimated would secure the carriage 52 of a very large amount of local letters, newspapers, &c., now carried by private service?
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES,) Cambridge University
I am unable to state the exact amount of the surplus Revenue derived from the penny postage, but it is safe to assume that practically the net Revenue of the Post Office is earned by the letters sent at the penny rate. Computed on the number of inland letters, according to the latest completed Return, the loss to the Revenue from the substitution of a halfpenny postage for the present penny postage rate would be about £3,100,000 a year. Moreover, that loss would not be materially lessened by any increase that might reasonably be expected to result from the reduction in the postage rate. There is no such difference in the cost of dealing with a local letter or newspaper, as distinguished from an ordinary inland letter or newspaper, as would justify a lower rate of postage for the local letter or newspaper. Besides this, a departure from the simple and highly convenient system of an uniform inland rate, would entail innumerable complications and difficulties. As regards the request for a farthing local rate for newspapers, it is right to state that the present Newspaper Post is already carried on at a serious loss to the State, and that any reduction in the rate of charge for newspapers would necessarily increase that loss.