§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General (1), whether he is aware that for many years past merchants and traders in Covent Garden Market were in the habit of sending to the country to their customers who were producers, packets of printed labels for clearly directing their agricultural produce, which were sent under the book post rate, no objection being raised by the postal authorities until two months ago; (2) will he explain why, without warning, the postal authorities have stopped these packages, altogether, under the book post rate, and will only admit them under the letter rate, so that what formerly was sent for ½d. now costs 1½d.; and (3) whether, considering the burthened condition of the farmers and fruit growers, he will revert to the old rule, and allow these labels, which are absolutely valueless, to go at book post rate?
§ MR. HANBURY
The answer to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's Question is in the affirmative. The packets were excluded from transmission by book post under the Inland Post Amendment Warrant, 1897, which pro- 181 vides that the expression "book packet" shell not include any article which, though made of paper and bearing words in writing or printing, is substantially of the nature of stationery or merchandise. The Warrant was laid on the Table of the House on the 29th of January last, and notice of its publication was given in the Gazette of the 15th of the same month. The Postmaster General considers that the grievance will be removed by the regulations which come into force on the 22nd instant, as, though it will still be impossible to send a 2 oz. packet by book post for ½d., it will be possible to send a 4 oz. packet for by letter post.