HC Deb 28 June 1911 vol 27 cc420-1

asked approximately the figure of the yearly saving effected upon the manufacture of adhesive postage stamps as between the tender of Messrs. De la Rue and that of Messrs. Harrison; and whether the stamps issued to the public on Coronation Day meet all the requirements of the new contract?


I do not feel at liberty to divulge the figures of the individual tenders received. As regards the second part of the question, the reply is-in the affirmative, regard being had to the initial difficulties.


asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the dissatisfaction at the new postage stamps, both owing to the complete want of resemblance of the portrait of His Majesty and the clumsiness of the printing, especially on the penny stamp, he will consider whether a fresh issue should be designed with a new portrait of His Majesty; and whether the proposed issue of higher denominations with the existing portrait should be cancelled?


also asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the poverty of design and the mediocrity of the engraving of the new postage stamps, he will take early steps, either by competition or otherwise, to obtain another design; if so, whether he will make it a condition of acceptance of any design that the portrait of the King shall be an actual miniature likeness of His Majesty; whether he will cause the new designs so obtained to be submitted to a small committee of competent persons before the actual expense of engraving is incurred; and whether, at the same time, he will arrange for the stamps to be printed on less tearable paper?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

The portrait of His Majesty was engraved from a special photograph, and the process was entrusted to the Royal Mint. I am disappointed that the result should not have been more successful, and I agree that there is room for improvement in printing the penny stamp—an improvement which I hope will be secured with more experience on the part of the contractors who have undertaken this work for the first time, and who have been working under great pressure. I am in. communication with them on the subject. The paper used is the same in the new as in the old stamps. The denominations which have not yet been placed on sale are in an advanced stage of preparation, and I am not prepared to take the course suggested by the hon. Member for Canterbury.


May I ask, did the right hon. Gentleman not pass proofs of these stamps before they were finally approved, and if, as a matter of fact, the terms of the contract have been carried out as shown, by the inefficient result?


Yes; proofs were submitted, and were regarded as satisfactory. My right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury has just said, in answer to a question, that it is considered that the terms of the contract have been fulfilled in view of the initial difficulties.


May I ask, as the design of the postage stamp is virtually as important as that of the coinage, if the right hon. Gentleman has seen any design submitted to the Imperial Conference in connection with the proposal for a uniform or co-operative design for one at least of the stamps for the whole of the British Empire?


I hardly think that that question arises out of the one on the Paper, but as a matter of fact the suggestion has been made that there should be uniform stamps throughout the Empire; but it has not been received with favour in several quarters most concerned.


Has the right hon. Gentleman received many communications similar to the one which has just reached me from an unknown correspondent, who says, "Stick to your guns—the stamps are an atrocity"?