HC Deb 26 February 1895 vol 30 cc1561-2

I beg to ask the Postmaster General—(l)whether he is aware that numerous complaints are made of the exaction of a fine of double the deficient postage on insufficiently stamped Foreign and Colonial letters from the addressees in this country, the fine on a single letter sometimes amounting to five or six shillings; (2) what amount is annually received in fines for deficient postage from Foreign countries and the Colonies, and from the United Kingdom, collectively and respectively;(3)and whether, in view of the fact that the addressee is guiltless in the matter, he will propose to the next Postal Union Convention that in such cases the deficient postage only shall be levied, or, in the alternative, that the fine on a Foreign or Colonial letter thall not exceed 2d., and on an inland letter 1d., in addition to the deficiency?


There are people who complain of any charge raised by the Post Office; but the principle now assailed by the hon. Gentleman is seldom attacked by such persons. The principle has long been adopted all over the world and is well understood by the public. It has a most important effect in inducing people, to prepay letters properly, and, in my opinion, it is undesirable to relax the rule. The Post Office cannot throw the punishment on the right person without delaying the letters, and the addressees in the vast majority of cases doubtless prefer to receive their letters punctually, and settle with the senders any question of insufficient postage. The figures asked for in the second paragraph cannot be given.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider the propriety of reducing the fines?


I am afraid that anything in the nature of a graduated scale would be impossible. It would be very complicated and very difficult to carry out.