§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. David Gammans)
There are no immediate plans for sending mail by helicopter: but the Post Office has already made comprehensive experiments with these aircraft. As my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said, in the course of an Adjournment debate on 15th June, the Post Office will be quick to consider using helicopters as soon as there is a reasonable prospect of essential postal requirements being met. These are not only the acceleration of the mail at reasonable cost but also with a high standard of regularity in all weather conditions, especially as so much of the mail has to be moved during the night.
§ Mr. Dodds
Whilst appreciating that the Post Office has made experiments, does not the Assistant Postmaster-General also appreciate that experiments need to continue if success is to be gained? Is he aware that for three years in America a successful all-the-year round postal service has been carried out by helicopters, and would he not consider it as a possible technique for reducing the number of mailbag robberies in this country?
§ Mr. Gammans
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the conditions in America, where they have vast distances 1334 to cover, are quite different from here, where so much of the mail goes by night and where the weather conditions would not make the use of helicopters a practical proposition.
§ Captain Duncan
Is my hon. Friend aware that the First Lord of the Admiralty has said that they propose to have 200 helicopters flying over water, so why should he not experiment with the use of helicopters for delivering mail on the West Coast of Scotland?
§ Mr. Gammans
We have carried out experiments and have found that the cost is absolutely prohibitive, and in view of the fact that so much of the mail in this relatively small country goes by night, we cannot see that there would be any saving in efficiency.
§ Sir R. Acland
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that it is important that people should not be kept awake all night, because otherwise they will not be able to read the letters when the helicopters bring them?