HC Deb 30 June 1965 vol 715 cc611-3
18 and 19. Mr. Ian Lloyd

asked the Postmaster-General (1) from what proportion of automatic stamp vending machines, other than those selling books of stamps, it is now possible to buy fourpenny stamps;

(2) what plans he has to convert existing stamp vending machines, other than those selling books of stamps, to the sale of fourpenny stamps; and what the capital cost of these measures will be.

Mr. Joseph Slater

There are no stamp-selling machines dispensing fourpenny postage stamps. My right hon. Friend is reviewing the range of stamps sold through machines and the capital cost of any proposed changes will not be known until the review is completed.

Mr. Lloyd

Does not the Postmaster-General agree that it is rather ludicrous for a Government who claim to be the harbinger of the computer age to have to confess that they cannot keep their stamp-vending machines up to date? Does he not appreciate that they are often the first impression of public enterprise which visitors to this country have at airports and seaports? As the right hon. Gentleman does not have much time left before the 4d. stamp goes up to 5d., will he not take some steps to deal with the matter now?

Mr. Slater

The hon. Gentleman was very optimistic in the latter part of his supplementary question. I hope that it will not be very long before we are able to deal with this matter, but we have nearly 28,000 stamp selling machines of various kinds and the hon. Gentleman will agree that any wholesale alterations must be carefully considered. In the meantime, the existing installations meet the requirements of the new postage rates.

Sir F. Bennett

In view of the Labour Government's programme, would it not be much more economic to leave the machines as they are until the cost of the stamp has gone up to 6d., in which case one would only need to buy two 3d. stamps?

Mr. Robert Cooke

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that all over the West Country we have had stamp selling machines selling no stamps at all because the stamps have been taken out of the machines by the Post Office and stuck on nails along counters because no other stamps have been available for sale?

Mr. Slater

The hon. Gentleman is a poor advocate of the Post Office service in this country when he makes statements of that kind which can be published.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that what my hon. Friend is trying to do is to point out to the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend something which they have been utterly unwilling to face—that this has been the biggest monumental bog-up over stamps?

Mr. David Griffiths

At least my hon. Friend has the moral courage to tell the general public, which is what hon. Members opposite never attempted to do.

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