HC Deb 06 March 1896 vol 38 cc350-1
MR. LEIGH CLARE (Lancashire, Eccles)

On behalf of the hon. Member for Canterbury, Mr. HENNIKER HEATON, I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he has been informed that much dissatisfaction has been expressed among the members of the Ashanti expeditionary force at the arrangements for the transmission of correspondence to and from the troops engaged; whether he will state what arrangements were made for this purpose; and, whether he will direct that in future, in view of the difficulty of procuring stamps in the field, letters from soldiers and officers on active service shall be carried free?


The Postmaster General has not been informed of any dissatisfaction on the part of the members of the Ashanti expedition. He is not aware what arrangements were made for the carriage of the force's correspondence to and from the coast after their landing. Between this country and the West Coast of Africa, the letters of the force were, of course, sent by the regular weekly packet service to and from the West Coast. The Legislature has long conferred upon soldiers on active service the privilege of sending and receiving letters at the rate of 1d. per half-ounce on certain conditions, but has not authorised the gratuitous transmission of such letters. The difficulty of prepayment when the troops are in remote parts of the globe is met by a difference between the statutory provisions for outward and homeward letters. A soldier's letter outward from England forfeits all such privilege if not prepaid, and is detained and returned to the writer for prepayment of the postage. A soldier's letter homeward from abroad it still carried at the privileged rate even if not prepaid. Beyond this the Postmaster General is not empowered by Parliament to go.

MR. J. A. WILLOX (Liverpool, Everton)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether Her Majesty's Government will take into favourable consideration the propriety of making some appropriate and subtantial grant to the officers and men engaged in the recent expedition to Ashanti, in recognition of the arduous and perilous duties which they performed?


Steps have already been taken to make a grant to the troops engaged in the recent operations in Ashanti. I will explain the arrangement on moving the Estimate for the expedition.