HC Deb 01 February 1897 vol 45 cc917-8
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether he can explain the action of the Post Office authorities under any existing rule in refusing to deliver by sample post samples of species of butterflies sent from residents abroad to an eminent entomologist and dealer in natural history specimens residing in Eastbourne, with a view to a guidance of future commercial relations with persons abroad; whether he can state under what rule the Post Office acts in demanding from the gentleman in question, an increased postage or the return to place of origin of the aforesaid packets, thereby seriously damaging the business of the said entomologist; and whether cut flowers are allowed to pass through the post as samples under Rule 7?


In the matter to which the hon. Member's first Question refers the Post Office is only carrying out, as it is bound to do, a deliberate decision of the Postal Union, that natural history specimens are not entitled to be sent by the sample post, which is intended for bonâ fide samples of merchandise, of no saleable value, and for nothing else. In strictness, packets improperly sent by parcel post should be stopped and returned to the senders; but in the present instance, at the naturalist's own request, the concession was made that packets of butterflies addressed to him should be transferred to the post by which they might have been sent, if he would undertake in all such cases to pay the charges incurred. He ultimately declined to take advantage of the concession, and the strict rule is therefore being acted on. As regards cut flowers, I presume that the hon. Member is referring to rule 7 of the Foreign Sample Post Regulations in the Post Office Guide, which embodies the Postal Union Regulations excluding from the sample post articles of saleable value. If cut flowers have no such value and are sent by a dealer as a bonâ fide trade sample they are entitled to pass by sample post. I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a similar question put by the hon. Member for Canterbury on the 5th of June last. There has been no ruling of the Postal Union on the transmission of cut flowers as there has been on that of natural history specimens.