79. Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the discrimination by the Post Office between monthly and weekly publications of the same class, whereby a weekly periodical containing political or other news may be sent through the post for ½d., even though it may weigh as much as 6 lbs. in some cases, while a monthly periodical containing political or other news of a similar class must pay ordinary letter or parcel post, which, in the case of a publication weighing 1 lb., would amount to 3d. a copy; whether he is aware that this discrimination acts as a severe handicap upon monthly journals, such as "Scottish Country Life"; and whether he will take steps to place all periodicals publishing political or other news on the same footing?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It is not the Post Office, but the Legislature which has decided that no publication shall be capable of being registered for transmission at the newspaper rate of ½d. per copy unless it be published in numbers at intervals of not more than seven days. It is the case that a copy of a registered newspaper may be sent through the post for ½d., although its weight may much exceed two ounces, which is the greatest weight which can otherwise be sent by post for ½d. I should welcome my hon. Friend's assistance in reducing the weight of many newspapers, but I am glad to say that I am not aware of any issue of any newspaper in the Post Office register, either daily or weekly, which has reached as much as 6 lbs., nor could a newspaper weighing that amount be sent at the newspaper rate, as a limit of 5 lbs. has been imposed by Statutory Regulation. The present newspaper rate burdens the taxpayer to an extent which may be estimated at several hundred thousand pounds a year. I can hold out no prospect of obtaining legislation to include in the newspaper rate publications which appear at intervals exceeding seven days, for, apart from the serious administrative and practical difficulties which would then have to be met, such a measure would enormously increase this burden.