HC Deb 02 July 1896 vol 42 cc543-4

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been drawn to the fact, as shown in the official correspondence of the Department, No. 190,693, that a telegram handed in at Southampton at 10.55 p.m. on the 20th of May last, and addressed to an officer residing within 20 yards of the telegraph office in Paddington Station, reached the West Strand office at 11.42 p.m., and was thence carried by a messenger on foot to the house of the addressee, who was awakened long after midnight and required to pay 1s. for porterage; and that, on the refusal of the addressee to pay porterage, the messenger said he could have the telegram without being required to pay anything, and so left it; will he explain on what grounds, on receiving a written complaint from the addressee of the delay and claim for porterage, the Department has renewed such claim; whether he is aware that the present system of delivering night messages in London causes much needless delay, expense, and alarm; and, whether he will make arrangements for the receipt and dispatch of such messages from all London offices which are always open without special charge for porterage?


The Postmaster General's attention has been drawn to the facts referred to by the hon. Member, and they are correct, except that the Paddington Station office is not a delivering office, and that the telegram was delivered by omnibus as far as available, and not, as implied, by a messenger on foot the whole distance. The porterage should have been paid by the sender when the telegram was handed in, but as this was not done the Department has very properly sought to obtain payment from the addressee. The Postmaster General is not aware that the present system of delivering night messages in London causes needless expense, delay, and alarm, and he is not prepared, nor would it be in accordance with the Statute, to deliver telegrams without charge beyond the prescribed area of free delivery. The hours up to which offices are kept open for delivery are fixed with a careful regard to the reasonable requirements of the district, and the avoidance of undue expense to the State.

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