MR. HENNIKER-HEATON (Canterbury)
I beg to ask the Postmaster Genera] whether, until the 1st of June, 1892, there was free re-direction of all halfpenny matter, postcards, book packets, circulars, sample packets, and newspapers, provided that the old and the new address lay within the same delivery district, and whether the whole of London counted as one district; whether the matter on which a charge for re-direction is made amounts to more than half the total of the re-directed matter to be delivered in London; whether he has observed signs of dissatisfaction among the public at the inconvenience caused by the abolition of the old privilege of free re-direction and the general refusal of addressees to receive matter involving payment of fines; and whether he will recommend the Treasury to assent to a restoration of the privilege in question? At the same time, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there has been, since June, 1892, when the new Rule imposing fines for the re-direction of postal matter other than letters and parcels was enforced, a very large increase (approaching 15 or 20 per cent.) in the number of bookpost packets, postcards, and newspapers refused by the addressees, and consigned to the Returned Letter Office; and whether there has, since the same date, been any, and if so what, increase in the amount of revenue derived from fines?
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. A. MORLEY, Nottingham, E.)
The hon. Member has correctly described the Regulation in force prior to June, 1892. The correspondence upon which a charge for re-direction is made is somewhat less than one-third of the whole of there-directed correspondence delivered in London. The number of packets other than letters refused in consequence of the charge for re-direction has no doubt increased since June, 1892; but the records of the Department do not enable me to say how the amount of re-direction charges now collected compares with the amount formerly collected. I am aware that the present system of charging for re-direction of circulars, book packets, &c, gives rise to some dissatisfaction, but the advantage which, on the other hand, the public 556 have derived from the free re-direction of letters must not be overlooked. I am not at the present moment prepared to recommend a restoration of the privilege which local correspondence formerly had over other correspondence.