HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc407-8
55. Mr. Rose

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is satisfied that the system of licensing those retailers who wish to sell postage stamps is adequate; and whether he will take steps to liberalise the policy of granting licences.

Mr. Benn

The more retailers who can be encouraged to sell stamps the better and I am considering possible ways of doing this including the abolition of the licensing system. Meanwhile I am ready to grant licences to any who wish to apply.

Mr. Rose

What progress has been made so far? While recognising the existing legitimate interests in this matter, would not my right hon. Friend agree that stamp selling in shops would be a great boon to many people particularly the old and infirm, who cannot always get to the nearest post office?

Mr. Benn

I agree. But I am governed by statute in this and I must also consider the interests of the sub-postmasters who sell stamps. However, I do not believe that these are insuperable problems, and I hope that we shall be able to overcome them and make stamps available on a wider basis.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it might well be a very good method of helping some of the small villages to give the ordinary shop a chance of selling stamps?

Mr. Benn

Certainly. As I have said, if the hon. Gentleman has any case of a local shop that would like to sell stamps, we would be prepared to make a licence available to anyone who applied.

Sir Knox Cunningham

What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to prevent pirate stamps? Is he aware that I have seen a Burns stamp from Scotland which had been stamped by the post office and had gone through the post but which had only Burns' head on it and was not an official stamp at all?

Mr. Benn

There are occasional examples of people putting trading stamps on letters. I believe that one man put a picture of himself on a letter and got it through. This is not really a grave problem nowadays, but 100 years ago it was serious enough for stamps to be specially coded in order to prevent them being cut with razor blades and used again.