HC Deb 11 March 1940 vol 358 cc834-6
22. Mr. Kirkwood (for Mr. Gallacher)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the hardship caused to parents of troops serving in Palestine owing to the high postage rates for parcels to the troops, and the hardship caused to troops by the high air-mail rates for letters home; and whether he will consider concessions for postal rates to and from serving soldiers in Palestine, such as have been applied with regard to soldiers serving in France?

The Assistant Postmaster-General (Captain Waterhouse)

The postage rates on letters and parcels to troops serving in Palestine are the same as those to troops serving in France and overseas countries generally. I regret that I cannot see my way to approaching the Palestine Post Office with a suggestion for the reduction of rates charged for letters and parcels from troops in Palestine. Owing to the restricted aircraft accommodation available for the conveyance of mails on the Empire Air routes, I am unable to offer any reduction in the charge for transmission by these services

Mr. Glenvil Hall

May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether, if he thinks he cannot reduce the rate for half an ounce to 1s. 3d., he cannot see his way to allow people to send a quarter of an ounce for 7½d.?

Captain Waterhouse

The hon. Member will understand that this matter does not concern only Palestine but every other station abroad where there are British troops. It raises a much broader question than appears on the Paper.

Mr. J. Morgan

Is there any difficulty in the way of opening up negotiations with the Palestine Government in order to get a particular concession in this case?

Captain Waterhouse

I do not think it would be fair to have a particular concession in the case of Palestine and to leave out Egypt and other stations. If the matter is raised, it ought to be raised by the War Office.

Mr. Morgan

Is there not a particular concession in the case of France, and why not in the case of Palestine?

23. Mr. Daggar

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that parcels, the contents of which cost about 10s. 6d., sent to soldiers serving in India are charged a postal rate of 3s., together with the imposition of a duty of 5s.; and whether he proposes to take some action that will encourage rather than discourage the dispatch of such parcels?

Captain Waterhouse

As regards postage, I would refer the hon. Member to the answers given to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) on 30th January and to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool (Mr. J. R. Robinson) on 4th March, of which I am sending him copies. As regards the duty levied in India, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 13th February to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte) by the Under-Secretary of State for India, of which I am sending him a copy.

Mr. Daggar

The answers to which I have been referred do not assist me in any way. Cannot something be done in order to reduce the cost of a parcel, especially in cases where the postage and duty are equal to the value of the contents of the parcel?

Captain Waterhouse

I think the hon. Member will understand that the duty is quite outside my Department. In the case of postage, a reduction has been made, and the rates at present in force compare very favourably with those in the last war.