HC Deb 05 December 1951 vol 494 cc2386-8
48. Miss Elaine Burton

asked the Minister of Defence if he will grant the concession of including letters in second-class air mail packets posted to His Majesty's Forces outside Europe.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Antony Head)

I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. If a letter is included in a second-class packet it becomes first-class mail, and under international agreement is liable to the postage rate for a letter. The hon. Lady is, however, aware that letters can be sent separately at very favourable concession rates for the Forces overseas.

Miss Burton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that letters sent to people who are far away mean a great deal to them? In spite of international agreements, would the right hon. Gentleman, who I know wishes to help, have another look at this matter in view of the fact that it costs a great deal of money to send printed papers to our Forces outside Europe?

Mr. Head

I am aware of the hon. Lady's interest in mails—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—but I would point out that this suggestion that she has made would, in effect, defeat the object for which she is striving, because to put a letter into a second-class packet doubles the price of it, whereas if the letter goes by itself it costs only 2½d.

Mr. Shinwell

Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is replying on behalf of the three Services? If so, does that mean that his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, as Minister of Defence, has washed his hands of all details?

The Prime Minister

I thought that on a matter of this kind I might well devolve some of my burdens.

Mr. George Sylvester

Would the Secretary of State look into this matter again, because he may be aware that I have drawn the attention of the Under-Secretary to the case of a constituent of mine who last Saturday had to pay £2 2s. 6d. to send a 2½ 1b. parcel to a boy of 19 in Malaya?

Mr. Head

If the hon. Gentleman will send particulars I will certainly look into them.

Mr. Sylvester

I have already done so. I have told the Under-Secretary about it.

Miss Burton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman—if I may include him among the males in whom I have an interest—if he would, during the Christmas Recess, look at this matter in general, because many people in this country are having to pay very large sums, quite legitimately I realise, on parcels sent to them by their soldier sons overseas. It is really a large matter, and if we send him details will he sympathetically look at the matter again?

Mr. Head

If the hon. Lady will send the details I can assure her that they will be looked into.

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