HC Deb 20 April 1970 vol 800 cc13-5
30. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what instructions were given to the Post Office Corporation with regard to making Rhodesian postage stamps invalid.

Mr. Stonehouse

None, Sir. The Post Office was merely informed that these stamps were invalid. Thereafter it has treated packets bearing such stamps in accordance with the normal postal regulations applicable to underpaid mail.

Mr. Roberts

Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether the surcharge arrangements for Rhodesian mail are exactly the same as those for unpaid and underpaid mail coming from other countries?

Mr. Stonehouse

Yes, they are exactly the same.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the right hon. Gentleman given consideration to the point that I raised with him in correspondence, namely, that the illegal regime is now getting round this ban by marking correspondence and propaganda sent to hon. Members—and no doubt many other citizens in the United Kingdom—" Official Paid "? What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to prevent this practice spreading?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am aware of this, and I have the situation under close review. I want to make it clear that meter-franked envelopes using the new system will be subject to charge, as well as any stamped mail.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the charge affects only people in this country and not people in Rhodesia, is it not a form of sanctions in reverse?

Mr. Stonehouse

I appreciate that many innocent persons have had to pay out here, and I regret that, but it flows from the illegal actions in Rhodesia. I hope that this helps to bring home to friends of Rhodesians here how serious those actions were.

41. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications why only the definitive decimal stamps recently issuing in Rhodesia are not valid for the prepayment of postage.

Mr. Stonehouse

Because, unlike all but one of the earlier issues, these stamps include in their designs the illegal republican flag, so that they could not have been approved by a lawful Minister, as is required by the law of Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. Bell

Is not the Minister aware that for four years the Prime Minister has been describing this regime as a rebellion against the Crown? Does it really make any difference whether the Rhodesians continue to print the old pattern of stamp or print a new one, and is it proposed to withdraw recognition of stamps of all republican regimes in the Commonwealth, including, perhaps, the Republican Nixon regime in North America?

Mr. Stonehouse

The reply to the first part of the hon. and learned Member's supplementary Question is, "Yes, Sir. There has been a significant change." I think that his point in the second part was absolutely fatuous.

Mr. Bryan

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether other countries have taken the same line as this country with regard to Rhodesian stamps?

Mr. Stonehouse

In another Question this afternoon I am asked what steps we have taken. I have replied that the Universal Postal Union has circularised all countries advising them of the steps we propose should be adopted in regard to these stamps, and we are awaiting reaction to that circular.

Mr. Wall

Is it not the fact that the American Government have made it quite clear that they regard this step as an unnecessary pinprick, and do not intend to enforce it? Is it not a British Government ban and not an international ban, with the British Government trying to force other countries to follow their example?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am not yet aware of the final reaction of the circular produced by the U.P.U., and I think that we should await that reaction before jumping to conclusions.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Should not the Government's action be supported? Is it not regrettable that on this morning's eight o'clock programme a member of the B.B.C. staff supported the reactionary and disloyal views of hon. Members opposite rather than gave support to the Government?