§ 23. Captain PLUGGE
asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the Post Office system under which wireless licences taken out in the course of a month are renewed at the beginning of that month next year, thus restricting the full period of twelve months for which the licence ought to be available, he will consider the alteration of the system in view of its unfairness to the public; and whether he can state the authority under which the Post Office thus penalises the subscriber?
§ The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir Walter Womersley)
The arrangement to which the hon. Member refers operates only on the first issue of a licence and materially simplifies the work involved in its subsequent renewal. The number of such renewals exceeds 7,500,000 yearly, and it will be appreciated that, having regard to the large number of licences involved, this simplification is of the utmost moment. Section 1, sub-section (2), of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1904, provides that wireless licences shall be in such form and for such period as the Postmaster-General may determine, while sub-section (6) empowers the Postmaster-General, with the consent of the Treasury, to make regulations prescribing the fees payable on the grant of any such licence.
§ Captain PLUGGE
Does the Assistant Postmaster-General not consider that large sums of money are acquired by the Post Office to which they are not entitled, and will he consider refunding these sums or, alternatively, making the original licence terminate at the end of the month and not at the beginning?
§ Sir W. WOMERSLEY
I do not consider that large sums of money are coming into the coffers of the Postmaster-General under the terms of this arrangement as regards the date. We claim that it is in the best interests of the service as a whole that we should be allowed to date the licence from the first of the 296 month, and we find that this is, in the main, acceptable to those who pay the licences. I may point out that it is only on the first issue of the licence that this extra charge is made, and that at the extreme it does not amount to more than tenpence.
§ Captain PLUGGE
As it means half the month and as there are 6,000,000 licences, the sum total is over £100,000, which I consider a very large sum.
§ Mr. THORNE
Has the Minister seen the very strong comments made by one of the stipendiary magistrate in a London Court?