HC Deb 30 July 1964 vol 699 cc1779-81
21. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation what would be the additional cost of sending by air all newspapers, magazines and periodicals to British Council reading rooms overseas.

Mr. R. Carr

The additional cost of sending by airmail all the newspapers, magazines and periodicals which are already being sent to British Council reading rooms overseas would be approximately £110,000 a year.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Nevertheless, does my right hon. Friend recognise the importance of having these reading rooms as up-to-date as possible and not stocked with antique magazines and newspapers? Would my right hon. Friend, in conjunction with the British Council, be prepared to revise the list of those newspapers and periodicals that are sent by airmail?

Mr. Carr

I will certainly look into that suggestion. My hon. Friend should realise that the extra figure I gave for sending by air represents something like a doubling of the present cost and could not be undertaken lightly.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while he is doing his best to spread British publications of all kinds all over the world, the Postmaster-General is doing his best to raise the postage rates on these periodicals and books? Will he get in touch with his right hon. Friend and raise this matter with him?

Mr. Carr

Interesting though that suggestion is, I think it is another question. I have been very concerned in this matter, and I think it is fair to say that the postage rates of this country do not compare badly with the postage rates applying in other countries which also try to spread their information.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that newspapers which are a week or more old are not very attractive reading for the public?

Mr. Carr

I will certainly do so. The British Council is more concerned with magazines and journals of information than newspapers, where speed is not quite so important. At the same time, I realise that it matters.

Mr. Paget

Is not Government postage a transfer from one pocket to another?

Are not these papers carried by our own airlines?

Mr. Carr

That is another question.

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