HC Deb 23 April 1896 vol 39 cc1514-5
*SIR ALFRED HICKMAN (Wolverhampton)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that a very large number of documents enclosed in halfpenny wrappers are surcharged because they are said to contain communications in the nature of a letter; whether an order for goods fixing the date of delivery is passed, but an order stating "urgently wanted" is surcharged, and an order defining exactly what goods are required is passed, but if simply "as before" is said it is surcharged; and, whether the Postmaster General will endeavour to make some consistent regulations on the subject, and furnish the public with clear and definite information as to what is and what is not admissible?


The Postmaster General is aware that a number of documents enclosed in halfpenny wrappers are surcharged as containing communications of the nature of a letter, and that orders are among the documents so offending. Messages are often added in writing to orders for goods which constitute the documents letters, and render them liable to letter postage. The particular expressions "urgently wanted" or "as before" are not, strictly speaking, admissible. The regulations on pages 4 and 5 of the Post Office Guide are as clear and as definite as it is possible to make them, and it is from inattention to these that the documents are so drawn as to be inadmissible at the halfpenny rate. A line has, of course, to be drawn somewhere, and it is thought that already very large concessions have been made with respect to halfpenny postage.