HC Deb 06 April 1897 vol 48 cc612-3
CAPTAIN NORTON () Newington, W.

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been directed to the resolutions concerning the reply letter card, which were unanimously passed at the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, held in London last June, in regard to the difficulties correspondents experience in prepaying closed replies to letters sent to foreign countries, and especially the British colonies and dependencies (a facility which exists for open postcards and telegrams), when the Congress recommended the adoption of the reply letter card (used by France and Ceylon for inland correspondence), and to the extension of its use to international communication in the same way as the open reply postcard, and that, at the Postal Union Congress to be held at Washington, the British Postmaster General be requested to take steps for the extension of the reply letter card to international postage as an efficient substitute for the oft-proposed international postage stamp; and whether, in presence of this unanimous expression of opinion of the British trading world, the Postmaster General would direct the British Postal delegates to support the adoption of the international reply letter card project at the coming Congress?


The Postmaster General's attention has been directed to the resolution passed at the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire held in London last June in favour of reply letter cards for the use of persons wishing to prepay replies to letters of inquiry addressed to places abroad. In order to ascertain whether there was any effective demand for this facility, a circular was addressed to the Chambers of Commerce in this country in 1893. To this circular many of the Chambers sent no reply whatever, and the majority of those which did answer expressed the opinion that no real inconvenience existed from the absence of facilities for prepaying replies to letters posted in this country. The difficulty in arranging for a reply letter arises from the different currencies of different countries. For instance, while only 96 2½d. stamps can be bought in this country for a sovereign, 100 can be bought for its equivalent of 25f. in France, and the difference in other countries is even greater. It is obvious that in any system of reply letter cards, the desire would be for the cards to be purchased in the country where they could be purchased most cheaply, and such a result would under existing arrangements be almost always adverse to the interests of this country. The question of a means of prepayment of international reply postage will, however, be brought forward at the Postal Congress about to be held at Washington. The British, delegates will, of course, take part in the discussion, and the Postmaster General will be glad if it be found possible to devise some satisfactory arrangement for the purpose, though he feels bound to say that he is not sanguine on the subject.