§ MR. ROWNTREE(for Dr. CAMERON,) Glasgow, College
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he is aware that whereas, prior to 1st January, letters from Benin, West Coast of Africa, where stamps are unobtainable, sent unstamped to this country, were, on delivery, charged the then single postage rate of 5d. per half-ounce, they are now, since the postage has been nominally reduced to 2½. per half-ounce, charged on delivery in this country double postage rates, or 5d. per half-ounce; and whether he will take steps either to allow of prepayment being made at Benin, or to continue the principle of charging adopted prior to the reduction of the postal rate, so as to prevent that reduction being illusory?
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Sir J. FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N.E.
The statements in the question are not quite accurate. Up to the 1st October, 1891, the postage to and from Benin and other Native Possessions on the West Coast of Africa was 6d. per half-an-ounce. When the universal rate of foreign postage was fixed at 2½d., double postage was charged on homeward letters if unstamped, because that rate does not cover the expenses which are increased if the postage has to be collected on delivery. In such places, where there are no post offices, the firms having local agents might supply them with British stamps, and arrangements are being made to furnish the Vice Consuls with a supply.