HC Deb 22 July 1959 vol 609 cc1249-51
4. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now consider the issue of low-value pictorial stamps.

7. Mr. W. R. Williams

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will consider breaking away from the traditional form of low-value postage stamps and issue them with pictorial designs.

Mr. K. Thompson

I have gone into this matter very thoroughly. I believe most people are well satisfied with our policy of maintaining the present size of our low-value stamps and giving predominance on them to the portrait of the Queen. I do not propose to change it.

Mr. Edwards

As the old practice has been breached in the case of the high-value stamps, surely there is a case for meeting the general interest which is shown by the young people of this country by giving an opportunity to buy low-value stamps which carry pictorial descriptions? Is the hon. Member aware that in another place examples of stamps were submitted which did not interfere with the tradition of having the Queen's head on the stamp and did not increase the size of the stamp? In view of that fact, does it not appear that his case falls to the ground?

Mr. Thompson

I have before me examples of the stamps to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. The main considerations which we have to take into account are, first, that it would be highly inconvenient to both business users and the Post Office to alter the size of the stamps; and, secondly, that having decided to maintain the present size of the low-value stamps, it does not seem to us to be possible to have a pictorial design together with a proper representation of the portrait of the Queen.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Is the Minister aware that I do not think that there is anything at all in the last argument? Is it not quite practicable to do anything we like with stamps provided that we have the right ideas about them? Is it not correct that the Postmaster-General, like myself, had the opportunity to see that excellent and indeed very profitable stamp department in Washington? Why are we trailing behind other countries in our stamp issue? Will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend to ask the advisory committee to look at some of these examples to see whether they cannot be less conservative than some hon. Members who have been hailing the Minister this afternoon?

Mr. Thompson

We have considered these various matters, including the experience of other authorities. While there may be some advantages in making changes, there are real disadvantages, and we do not want to take those over from the American or other authorities.

Dame Florence Horsbrugh

Does my right hon. Friend realise that many people do not want these changes, nor do they want the tradition broken? Am I right in saying that we are the only country in the world which has the Sovereign's head so clearly portrayed that it does not include the name of the country on the stamp?

Mr. Thompson

My right hon. Friend is perfectly correct. Our position in that respect arises from the fact that we were the first people to use stamps and that we are not required to put on the stamp the name of the country. We do not want to lose that position.

Mr. Edwards

Is not the Minister aware that the specimen stamps exhibited in the other place interfered neither with the size of the stamp nor with the position, nor did they leave the Queen's head off the stamps? Is he aware that in that way tradition is preserved and we meet the needs of modern society?

Mr. Thompson

That is one opinion with which I cannot agree.