HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc195-6
18 and 19. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether he is aware that, of the 700,000 envelopes which were handed to the General Post Office at Mount Pleasant approximately 10 days before closure of application lists for Imperial Chemical Industries 8 per cent. Unsecured Loan Stock 1988–93, each envelope containing Preferential Form B to stockholders, many thousands failed to reach intending recipients, resulting in losses of rights; and whether he will make a statement on the postal deficiencies which contributed to such losses.

(2) whether he is aware that an envelope posted to the home of the hon. Member for South Worcestershire by Imperial Chemical Industries Limited in September 1966 containing subscription application forms, including Preferential Stockholders' Form B for subscription to the Imperial Chemical Industries 8 per cent. Unsecured Loan Stock 1988–93 was never delivered, involving him in monetary loss, and that many similar envelopes were never delivered; and what redress he proposes to offer for such postal deficiencies.

Mr. Short

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman and other people did not receive their application forms. It had been agreed with I.C.I. and their printers that they should begin posting the forms at Mount Pleasant on Saturday, 10th September, and all our plans were made accordingly. In the event, the postings did not begin until Wednesday, 14th September, and so clashed with the heavy normal traffic on the Thursday and Friday. In addition to this delay, some 500 had to be sent back because of faults in addressing or enveloping. Nevertheless, the Post Office dispatched all the forms it received in time for stockholders to return them to I.C.I. before the application lists closed. About 100 were returned because the addressees could not be traced.

In a posting of about 600,000, I cannot rule out the possibility that a very small number may have gone astray. But all my enquiries—I have looked into this personally—have led me to the conclusion that if some thousands of people did not receive their forms the fault did not lie with the Post Office.

Sir G. Nabarro

In the event of any similar circumstances arising in the future, as undoubtedly they will, with the large commercial despatches entailed, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange, first, that the envelopes are handed to the Post Office at least a month before application date, in view of the magnitude of the exercise, and, second, that all of them are sent by recorded delivery? Is it reasonable that £ notes should be sent through the post by unrecorded delivery?

Mr. Short

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question is not a matter for me but for the people who send off these things. We will always co-operate with anyone sending off a large number of these kinds of letters. I would point out to him that 280,000 letters containing acceptances went off without a hitch and we had no complaints about them.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does this not give the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) an opportunity to show his patronism by investing the money instead in Defence Bonds?