HC Deb 16 November 1959 vol 613 cc766-7
2. Mr. John Hall

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he is aware that the cost of air mail impedes his policy of increasing the circulation of British magazines overseas; and what consultation he has had with the Postmaster-General on this matter.

Dr. Hill

Cheaper air mail and air freight rates would, of course, be helpful to the circulation of British magazines overseas. But the major proportion of air mail rates consists of charges made by the air carriers who transport the mail. The postal handling charges represent only a small proportion of the rate. For air freight, the carriers will allow a 50 per cent. reduction in their rates for newspapers and magazines despatched in consignments of more than 5 kilos.

In the course of my study of ways to increase the circulation overseas of British books and periodicals, I have had consultations with my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General on this.

Mr. Hall

Although there are certain facilities for reducing charges on magazines distributed overseas, is my right hon. Friend aware that the cost is still very high? Could he not persuade those concerned at least to reduce the cost on scientific and technical journals, and, possibly, cultural journals as well, if my right hon. Friend can define the word "cultural"?

Dr. Hill

The difficulty of distinction is great, but the fact remains that up to 95 per cent. of the cost is represented by the charges of air carriers.