§ 39. Captain ERSKINE-BOLST
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that at present the profits derived by the Post Office from mails carried on British aeroplanes are used in part to make good the loss incurred by sending British mails on foreign air lines; and whether he will take steps to cause a change in this policy, which subsidises foreign services at the expense of the British public?
§ Sir K. WOOD
In accordance with the normal practice of the Universal Postal Union, the British Post Office receives payment in gold francs for the conveyance of the mails of other administrations on British air lines, and makes payment in gold francs for the conveyance of British mails on foreign air lines. The additional receipts from other countries resulting from the depreciation of sterling are a set-off against the increased outpayments which have to be made to other countries. If this policy were not pursued, it would be necessary, in order to avoid a loss to the Post Office revenue, to increase the charges made to the British public for the use of foreign air services, while no appreciable reduction could be made in the charges for Imperial services.
§ 40. Captain P. MACDONALD
asked the Postmaster-General what steps he is taking to encourage the commencement of air-mail services to those parts of the Empire not already provided with such 20 facilities; and whether, in view of the advantages to Imperial trade in developing such services as soon as possible, he will allocate some portion of the profit from existing Empire air-mail services to the encouragement of new lines by guaranteeing a minimum payment for the carriage of mails during the initial period?
§ Sir K. WOOD
It is the policy of the Post Office to make full use of all air services which may be established in any part of the Empire; but the establishment and subsidising of new air services fall within the province, not of the Postmaster-General, but of the Secretary of State for Air. In any case, the charges for Imperial air mails are fixed at so low a point that the profit is extremely small, and quite inadequate to afford an indirect subsidy of the character suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend.