HC Deb 21 November 1968 vol 773 c1514
19. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Postmaster-General what were the estimated numbers of Christmas cards handled by the Post Office in 1965, 1966, and 1967; what estimates had been made of the cost to the Post Office of allowing in 1968 a 3d. open Christmas card mail; and whether he will take steps to permit the mailing of Christmas cards for 3d.

Mr. Joseph Slater

About 600 million in each year. It would cost the Post Office over £2 million if Christmas cards were accepted at 3d. postage this year, and I am sorry we cannot do as my hon. Friend asks.

Mr. Roberts

Is not my hon. Friend afraid that, as a result of the absurd 33⅓ per cent. increase in the charge and this last-minute Scrooge-like attitude, fewer Christmas cards will be sent this year, resulting in absence of Christmas cheer for many lonely people and, what is more, reducing the income of some charities?

Mr. Slater

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend's suggestion that the increase in the postage rate as it affects the Christmas period will give a bad result or that we shall not have the trade from the general public. I remind him that in the last financial year we lost over £8 million. We should not be justified in changing our plans and reintroducing such an uneconomic charge.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does not the Post Office make an enormous profit out of Christmas cards? How, in that circumstance, does the hon. Gentleman justify this levy upon a particular form of post? Why should he relate it to the overall loss of £8 million on all the activities of the Post Office?

Mr. Slater

I should have expected the hon. and learned Gentleman to be able to understand that this matter must be taken within the context of the whole operational period, the financial year, and Christmas is a part of it.