HC Deb 23 June 1896 vol 41 cc1679-80

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether, although it is laid down in the postal regulations that an order for goods may be sent through the post at the half-penny rate, he has recently inflicted a fine on a firm for issuing such an order with the prefix, "please to send," in writing; whether the public is to understand that the word ''send," which constitutes the essence of the order, must be printed and not written; whether the Postmaster General has issued an order that the word or words referred to may be inserted with a hand stamp, the use of pen and ink being still strictly excluded; and, whether, in coming to a decision, he will refer to correspondence with the aggrieved parties No. 104,177?


It is a fact that orders for goods sent at the half-penny rate have been charged with letter-postage on account of their containing the written communication "please to send." Orders may not contain any written matter beyond the particulars specified in the Post Office Guide, well known to the public, and any communications such as "send" or "please send" must be printed. Hand stamping is a printing process, and it follows that the communication referred to may be hand-stamped although it may not be written. The Postmaster General has referred to the correspondence with the persons mentioned by the hon. Member, and he finds they were correctly informed of the conditions on which orders can be sent at the half-penny rate. The Postmaster General considers that the concessions which have been made in the past in order to extend the privilege of a cheap and unremunerative post have already gone at least as far as it is possible to justify, and if the inevitable inconsistencies which have resulted from such concessions are found inconvenient, it may be a question whether it may not be desirable to reconsider the whole matter, and subject documents of the character to which the hon. Member refers, to the letter rate of postage.