HC Deb 09 November 1955 vol 545 cc1849-51

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

77. Mr. JOHN HALL to ask the Minister of Defence what facilities will be granted to allow Christmas parcels to be sent by air mail free of charge to United Kingdom troops stationed overseas.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

I will, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, and that of the House, reply to Question No. 77.

I am glad to be able to inform the House that it has been decided to repeat this year, under similar conditions to those which applied in 1954, the Christmas air parcel postage concessions for our forces in Korea and Japan and for entitled personnel in Malaya. In addition, the concession will be extended to certain personnel in Kenya on the same lines as it now applies in Malaya.

I will circulate full particulars of the scheme in the OFFICIAL REPORT. A Press and broadcast notice to the same effect is being issued by the Postmaster-General tomorrow.

Mr. Hall

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for his very satisfactory reply, may I ask him whether the Postmaster-General will see that notices are placed in the post offices as well as notified to the public through the broadcast announcements?

Mr. Lloyd

I think my right hon. Friend intends to take every step to see that this is known. It is proposed to communicate with the next-of-kin of those concerned to make certain that they are aware of this facility.

Mr. Mellish

Can we be told why the troops in Cyprus are not to be allowed this concession?

Mr. Lloyd

I think the reasons are distance and the time it takes to get parcels to them.

Mr. K. Thompson

Not having seen the White Paper, may I ask my right hon. Friend what he means by "certain personnel in Kenya"? Does that mean that certain personnel in Kenya will not be entitled to this concession, because if that were so it would cause great disquiet.

Mr. Lloyd

The people who will receive this concession are those who have left for that station after the final date for surface post.

Mr. Shinwell

Surely it should be possible to make arrangements now in the case of Cyprus. Surely there is sufficient time to enable the Minister to enter into consultation with the Postmaster-General. Cannot air services be used for this purpose? Will it not be regarded as unfair and unjust to the men in Cyprus if they are excluded from this arrangement?

Mr. Lloyd

The concession is being extended this year to those in Kenya, which has not happened before.

Mr. Paget

Will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider the case of people in Cyprus, who are having a very difficult time? If they feel that they are left out when all other active theatres are included, it will cause very bad feeling.

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly look into the matter.

Following are the particulars of the Scheme:

  1. 1. One parcel up to 3 1b. in weight may be sent by airmail free of postage to each member of Her Majesty's Forces in Korea and Japan. The parcels will be accepted at any post office in the United Kingdom between Monday, 21st November, and Thursday, 8th December, inclusive.
  2. 2. A similar concession is also available for certain personnel serving in Malaya and Kenya, but only for those members of Her Majesty's Forces who left the United Kingdom or Japan for Malaya, or the United Kingdom for Kenya after the last dates for posting surface mail parcels to those countries (4th and 7th November respectively). Parcels for dispatch by these arrangements to Malaya and Kenya should be posted between Monday, 21st November, and Wednesday, 14th December, inclusive.
  3. 3. Full details of the arrangements, together with a special label for addressing the parcel, will be sent shortly to the next-of-kin of the men concerned. Post offices will accept parcels for dispatch by these arrangements only if they bear the special labels which are being issued for the purpose.
  4. 4. The parcels cannot be accepted before Monday. 21st November, or after 8th December (for Korea and Japan) and 14th December (for Malaya and Kenya).