HC Deb 21 October 1915 vol 74 cc2032-4

(1) Any contract for the supply or delivery to subscribers of newspapers, periodicals, or other publications, at rates including postage, so far as the contract includes the supply or delivery of publications, the rate of postage on which is increased after the passing of this Act and before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and sixteen, may be determined by any party to the contract, as from the date on which the rate is raised by notice given to the other party to the contract not later than fourteen days after the increase of rate takes effect.

(2) In computing, for the purposes of Sub-section (2), of Section two of the Post Office (Parcels) Act, 1882, the amount of the remuneration to railway companies for the carriage of parcels, there shall be excluded from the gross receipts of the Postmaster-General any increase in those receipts which is attributable to any increase in the rates of postage of parcels which is made after the passing of this Act and during the continuance of the present war and a period of six months thereafter.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I desire to ask the Postmaster-General what is the meaning of this Clause? Sub-section (2) practically rescinds the statutory agreement made with the railway companies for the purpose of carrying parcels, and the rate of remuneration of railway companies as to the price paid to them for carrying parcels. There is nothing about the alteration in the parcels rate in this Bill at all. Why should we break a contract with the railway companies in respect of a matter that we have not in any way sanctioned by way of alteration in the postal rate of parcels to be carried under this Bill?


Alterations in the parcel post rates are made by Warrant, therefore it would be improper to include them in the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget speech that it was intended to effect certain increases in the parcel post rates by warrant. It was also stated in the White Paper which was circulated to the House, and also stated, I think, elsewhere. Under the Act referred to in this Clause—the Post Office (Parcels) Act, 1882—a railway company is entitled to claim for its share of the cost of conveying parcels 55 per cent, of the Post Office receipts. These increased charges are levied, in the special circumstances of the time, simply for the purpose of increasing the national revenue and helping us to meet the charges' of the War. I am sure it would be regarded on all hands as absurd that more than one-half of the increased charges paid by the public should go to the railway companies, who have no increased expenses to meet in respect of these parcels, and who, therefore, are not entitled in any way to receive the larger half of the new revenue. On the contrary, the railway companies will gain, because they are themselves carriers of parcels. The Postmaster-General has no monopoly in respect of parcels and the position is not like that of the letter post. Owing to the increase of the Post Office charges an increased traffic will accrue to the railway companies in respect of parcels. Therefore, I think the railway companies cannot have any claim for participation in the new revenue, but, will, indeed, derive advantage from the changes effected by the Warrant.


I understand that the railway companies will do no more work for the money they are being paid.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.