HC Deb 27 February 1891 vol 350 cc1828-9

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether his attention has been called to a statement in the Journalist newspaper, in which attention is called to the inconvenience of the present practice of the Postal Telegraph Department in using one system of counting messages for the Press, and another for private messages; for instance, "thirty four" is charged as one word, and 34 as two, although the transmission of the one word involves the use of 28 telegraphic signs, and of the two figures only 10 signs; "1890" is charged as four words, but "eighteen ninety" as two, although 27 telegraphic signs are required for the two words, and only 20 for the figures; whether his attention has been called to the saving of official time which would result from an abolition of the higher charges for telegraphing figures as compared with words; and whether he will consider the advisability of doing away with a regulation of which Press correspondents complain, and causes some loss to the State?


Before the introduction of the rate of a halfpenny a word for ordinary telegrams, the regulations governing the charge for figures in those telegrams and in Press telegrams were the same, every figure being counted and charged for as a separate word. At the same time, all addresses were sent free. When the halfpenny rate came into operation, the addresses of ordinary telegrams were no longer sent free; and, chiefly as a concession to those who had to send telegrams to houses bearing numbers composed of several figures, it was decided to charge for five figures as a single word. But in the case of Press telegrams the addresses were still sent free, and as many as 75 words of text during the day and 100 words during the night could still be sent for a shilling, whilst a copy of a telegram of the same number of words was telegraphed to any separate town for a charge of 2d. No change, then, having here been made, there appeared to be no ground for a concession in the case of Press telegrams, which, were already the subject of such enormous privileges.