HC Deb 22 June 1955 vol 542 cc1282-4
4. Mr. Janner

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that during the railway strike his Department refused parcels over eight ounces for export; that from 13th June parcels for export were accepted for all countries excepting the United States of America, Canada, South Africa and the Gold Coast; that parcels for those countries had to be handed in at Southampton and Liverpool, causing expense and inconvenience to firms carrying on the export trade; and whether he will ensure that in any emergency in the future every facility shall be given for the transmission of parcels and letters in connection with our export trade, particularly for those destined to the dollar countries.

Dr. Hill

Facilities for sending parcels and heavier letter packets overseas by air were restored on 4th June. On 9th June arrangements were made for limited acceptance of overseas surface parcels. Then, the weight limit for all kinds of letter packets, including overseas, was increased to 1 lb. I can assure the hon. Member that in any future emergency the Post Office will continue to follow the policy of providing the best service which the resources available permit, with particular regard to the needs of the export trade.

Mr. Janner

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that his certainly was not the best arrangement? It was a great disservice from the export point of view, for example, that a parcel which normally would cost about 17s. would actually cost f12 2s. to send to America by air mail. Why has the right hon. Gentleman made the condition that parcels must be delivered at Southampton and Liverpool? Did he expect a courier service to be run by a firm from John O' Groats to Southampton in order that it could have parcels delivered for export purposes?

Dr. Hill

I sought at the earliest moment to make the dispatch of overseas parcels possible. On 4th June the air parcels service was established completely, from 9th June the overseas surface parcels service was re-established. It was necessary to require at the outset that the parcels should be delivered to five main ports. May I add that the statement in the Question that posting to the countries named was not possible is not accurate, for it was possible from 4th June.

Mr. Bottomley

Bearing in mind the harmful effect on our vital export trade, could the Postmaster-General tell us what representations, if any, were made to him by the President of the Board of Trade?

Dr. Hill

I should require notice of that question.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the general public and the great bulk of the business community viewed with approbation and enthusiasm the emergency arrangements which his Department made?