HC Deb 13 May 1895 vol 33 cc1033-4

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he has observed an advertisement in The Times purporting to give from the "Post Office Guide" the rates of postage for The Times Atlas to the British Colonies and Dependencies, and also to the principal foreign countries of the world; whether he has noticed that there are 38 different rates of postage for the 74 countries in the list, based upon no common principle, most of them far exceeding the freightage paid upon a ton of merchandise, the charges being higher to our Colonies than to foreign countries, for instance, to British Guiana 7s. 6d., to Dutch Guinea 4s. 6d., and to French Guiana 3s. 11d.; to Cochin China (French) 4s. 8d.; to Hong Kong (British) 5s. l0d.; to Egypt (under England) 5s., and to Massowah (Italy) 3s. 8d.; to Tunis (France) 3s. 1d.; to the Congo Free State (Belgian) 3s. 5d.; to the Gold Coast (British) 8s. 3d.; to the Cameroons (German) 4s., and to the French Congo 3s. 11d.; and, finally, to British New Guinea 8s. 3d., and to German New Guinea 4s. 10d.; and, whether he will endeavour to arrange with the other members of the Postal Union for the establishment of a general parcel post (the United States being included in the scheme) at uniform rates, based as nearly as may be on the actual cost of transmission and delivery?


The advertisement to which the question no doubt refers gives the cost of an 11 1b. parcel sent by parcel post to various places abroad by British, Colonial, or foreign services, or a combination of such, as the case may be. The endeavour of Her Majesty's Government in entering some years ago on this service, of which it had no experience, was to fix the rates in accordance with the estimated expenses, with some margin to secure the State against loss. As experience has been gained, rates found to be more than duly profitable have been reduced; and the process is still going on. But the circumstances are so dissimilar in this country and foreign countries, that, with every desire for a more uniform tariff for places abroad, I see very little likelihood of attaining entire uniformity; on the basis of expense such a tariff is simply impossible. One important difference between our system and that of the Postal Union is that we recognise the difference of cost as between light and heavy parcels, while the Union does not; hence, while a comparison of rates to foreign countries and Colonies shows an advantage to foreign countries in regard to heavy parcels, it shows a great advantage to Colonies on light parcels. A comparison of parcel post and freight rates would not be apposite, as the latter do not include collection, inland conveyance, customs formalities, or delivery.