HC Deb 15 February 1965 vol 706 cc832-3
24. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Defence is he is aware that since the Army took over from the Post Office the responsibility for the delivery of mail to members of the Forces serving in the Far East, delivery of letters is taking nine days or more, instead of four days as previously; and if he will take steps to speed up these deliveries.

Mr. Mulley

I am not aware of any general delay in the delivery of mail to the Forces in the Far East. I understand that mail is arriving regularly and that the normal transit times are two to four days. If, however, the hon. Member will let me have details I will look into any complaints.

Mr. Digby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have received complaints about letters to ships now taking twice as long to arrive from home as they used to. and that this is giving rise to some criticism?

Mr. Mulley

Without a more specific instance of complaint, it is difficult for me to examine the matter. If the hon. Gentleman will let me have further particulars, I will certainly try to follow the matter up. I should say, however, that since the arrangements were changed in July, 1963, the general report we have is that the delivery of mail to all troops in the Far East has improved.

Mr. Rankin

Why are letters to the Far East being sent by ship? Cannot they be sent by aircraft, since I understand that that would take only two days?

Mr. Mulley

My hon. Friend must have misheard me. All the Forces' mail to the Far East is sent by air. There is a regular system of sending at least one despatch by air daily. The Question was about letters addressed to Her Majesty's ships in the Far East. We certainly send all mail by air.

Dr. Bennett

If the Minister intends looking into specific questions of delays in mail deliveries to ships, will he look into the question of mail intended for the squadron of ships which visited South Africa recently, since I understand that none of that mail was delivered over a period of many weeks, except for one load, which proved to be letters written on board those ships and intended for England?

Mr. Mulley

The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to give him a reply to that Question without notice.

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