HC Deb 17 March 1891 vol 351 cc1229-31

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether, considering that the Post Office has never proposed to undertake the so-called "Electric Call System," or the carriage of letters by special messengers, as proposed by the Boy Messengers Company, it is his intention to avail himself of monopolies vested in the Post Office, but not utilised by that Department, to prevent the establishment by private enterprise of services which would tend to the convenience of the public? and as I understand the Postmaster General has it in contemplation to institute some new Messenger Service, possibly he can give the House some information in regard to that Service.


had the following question on the Paper:—To ask the Postmaster General whether it is true that he intends to stop the carrying of written communications by the Boy Messengers Company, Limited; and, if so, whether it will be legal for the public to send those communications by Commissionaires, cabs, and private messengers?

VISCOUNT GRIMSTON (Herts, St. Alban's)

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is true that arrangements have already been made whereby letters may be taken to railway booking offices, and forwarded thence at a cost of 3d.; and whether these facilities will be accorded equally to the Boy Messengers and District Messengers Companies?

*THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES,) Cambridge University

I have given directions for the establishment of a service which will, I believe, meet such public demand as exists for the more rapid transmission of single letters. I have to point out that it is my duty to protect the public interests entrusted to the Post Office by Act of Parliament, and I cannot, therefore, without dereliction of duty, allow organised services for the collection and delivery of letters or the transmission of telegrams to be set up side by side with those of the Department. In reply to the question of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Carmarthen), I have to say I am advised that the conveyance and delivery of letters by the company is illegal, and if continued it will be my duty to take such proceedings as may be necessary to prevent infringement of the law. A person wishing to send a letter on his own private affairs may legally employ a special messenger on his own account. I hope the new service will be in operation at the latest by Wednesday in next week, and it will consist of boy messengers, who will be attached to all the principal post offices in London, where their services can be requisitioned, as they are now at the offices such as are open of the Boy Messenger Company. As we have a very large staff of telegraphic messengers always on hand waiting at those offices it is believed we shall be able to render very much more efficient service with a small addition to the present force than that which the Boy Messenger Company is at the present time offering to the public. In regard to the question of the noble Lord the Member for Hertford, I have to say that an arrangement has been made with the Railway Companies to enable letters to be conveyed by railway which cannot be conveyed by post—that is, letters posted after the time when the mails are sent off. This arrangement does not apply to the Boy and District Messengers Companies, as their operations will be in competition with the service we propose to establish.


Will any arrangements answering to the electric call system be made?


The matter is under the consideration of my expert advisers, and it is hoped and believed that some such service can be established.

SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the system he proposes to establish will be extended to provincial towns?


Will there be a number of boys always at the service of the public; and will it be necessary to come to Parliament for a Supplementary Vote?


I do not think it will be necessary to come to Parliament for a Supplementary Vote. As regards the question put by my hon. Friend behind me, I shall be very glad, if the experiment succeeds in London, to consider how far and in what cases it may be introduced in the large provincial towns.