HC Deb 29 April 1898 vol 56 cc1537-8

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he will explain why, while one printed, lithographed, or engraved visiting card can be sent by book post for a halfpenny, a small packet, weighing less than two ounces, of such cards is charged for at letter rate; whether visiting cards are held by the Department not to be printed papers; whether two-ounce packets of printed address labels sent by merchants and traders in Covent Garden to country growers, their customers, in order to ensure the rapid and certain delivery of perishable British produce, are still charged for under the letter rate, instead of as formerly under the book post rate; whether, although the senders bestow such labels gratis on their customers, the Post Office holds them to be merchandise; and whether he will take the opinion of the law officers as to the legality of treating such labels as if they were merchandise or stationery ordered at a fixed price and to be paid for?


The honourable Member is mistaken in supposing that a packet of printed or engraved visiting cards such as he describes is chargeable with letter postage. Visiting cards are entitled to pass at the book rate under the terms of the Postal Union Convention, and the Department has extended this privilege to the inland post. The packets of address labels referred to are not thus privileged by the terms of the Postal Union, and are still excluded from transmission by book post, like all other stationery, and are charged accordingly. The Postmaster General does not think it necessary to take the opinion of the law officers on the point, which has been made quite clear by the Inland Post Amendment Warrant of 1897. Of course, on packets of four or more ounces the book and letter rate is now the same.