HC Deb 04 February 1915 vol 69 cc154-5
96. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the Postmaster-General if he has had any representations in favour of continuing the postal rates to Canada which have been in force since 1907; if he can say to what extent the Canadian post increased between 1906 and 1914; what annual payment it would be necessary for the Post Office to make to-maintain the 1d. per pound rate; if he has considered the advantage which the new and heavier rate on British publications, which came into force on 1st January, gives to the circulation of American publications in Canada as compared with British; and will he reconsider the desirability at the present time, when agents of Germany are seeking to influence the foreign Press, of placing no fresh obstacles in the way of Canadians obtaining British publications?


I have received representations regarding the new scale of postage, which was introduced on the 1st of January, 1915, on packets of British newspapers, magazines, and trade journals sent to Canada. The quantity of such packets sent by post has increased about sevenfold since the establishment of the magazine post. The annual payment to the Canadian Post Office for the sea transit of these will be about £13,000 until the end of the year 1919. I cannot acquiesce without qualification in the description of the new scale as a "heavier" rate. The only increase (from 1d. to 1½d.) is in the case of packets weighing between 6oz. and 1 lb.; and against this is to be set the decrease of ½d. on each packet weighing between 1 lb. and 1½lb., 2lb. and 2½lb., 3lb. and 3½lb., and 4 lb. and 4½lb. Moreover, the postage of 1d. on packets up to 6oz. in weight provides for the dispatch of single copies of practically every daily newspaper. I have fully considered the probable results in all their bearings, and I do not share the lion. Member's apprehension that the new scale, which was introduced with the concurrence of the Canadian Government, will prevent or hamper in any way the spread of British sentiment for which the magazine post was instituted.


May I ask the Postmaster-General whether there is not a large class of publications, very widely read in Canada, which, nevertheless, will have to bear a heavier postage in future?


In ordinary times there are two large daily newspapers which may be handicapped under the new scale, as the hon. Gentleman knows; but, otherwise, I do not think it will affect the daily papers, and I think only a very small part of the weekly papers. However, I am having very careful records kept of what happens with regard to this post, and at a later date, if the hon. Gentleman will put down a question, I shall be very glad to give him the information.