HC Deb 16 March 1965 vol 708 cc1041-2
1. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that many firms in this country are now moving over to the use of metric Continental sizes for paper and envelopes; and whether, in view of the saving which could be achieved by the Post Office if there were greater uniformity in this field, he will take steps to encourage such change.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)

The answer to the first part of the Question is yes; the Post Office itself gave a lead in 1959 by introducing international sizes of paper for its general correspondence. As to the second part of the Question, I am currently considering how we can encourage the use of a standard range of envelope sizes lending itself to high-speed mechanical sorting.

Mr. Gresham Cook

Would the Postmaster-General bear in mind the amount of trade we are doing with Europe—E.F.T.A. and the E.E.C.? Is he aware also that the Federation of British Industries has come out in favour of metric sizes generally, and that if we induced this efficiency it might even help the right hon. Gentleman not to put up the cost of postage?

Mr. Benn

This was one of the first things about which I asked when I came to the Post Office. As the hon. Member says, the international implications are very important. In addition, there is the possibility, which he did not mention, that this might stimulate the export of British stationery.

Mr. Mawby

Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that he continues consultations with those engaged in the trade to allow them the necessary time to make any change?

Mr. Benn

Yes, certainly, Sir.