HC Deb 11 December 1931 vol 260 c2228
29. Mr. GIBSON

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that all Great Britain's chief Continental competitors are able to send an air-mail letter to South America for 1s. 6d. or less, their initial weight being five grammes (about one-sixth of an ounce), whereas the minimum cost from this country is 3s. 6d., the initial weight being half-an-ounce; whether he has considered the representations submitted by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce urging the adoption of a minimum weight of a quarter-ounce at a charge not exceeding 2s.; and what would be the cost of adopting their suggestion in connection with this service?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir Kingsley Wood)

I am aware of the fact that it is possible to send letters by air from certain European countries to South America at a lower minimum charge than it is from this country, but only the lightest letters come within the limit of one-sixth of an ounce. On the other hand, it is appreciably cheaper to send a letter weighing approximately ½-ounce from this country than from any other European country. In my opinion, the remedy for the high initial fees lies, not in a reduction of the unit of weight, but in a reduction of the very high charge for transport on this service, which is ten times greater than the charge made on the Indian Air Service. In regard to the second part of the question, I have considered the representations of the Association of Chambers of Commerce. So far as the third part is concerned, it is not possible at the present time to estimate exactly the additional cost of the proposal, but the service, owing to the fact that payment is made to the French Postal Authorities in gold francs, is now being run at a heavy loss, and I am not prepared to adopt a measure which could only increase that loss.