§ 2. Mr. Thomas Cox
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions he is having with the Post Office in seeking the sale in main post offices of gas and electricity stamps.
§ Mr. Norman Lamont
None direct, Sir. But I have had discussions with the gas and electricity industries about the possibility of selling stamps in post offices. The industries have agreed with the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters to make gas and electricity stamps available through sub-post offices. Selling stamps through main post offices is subject to the British Telecommunications Bill receiving Royal Assent.
§ Mr. Cox
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that his reply indicates the stupidity of the system? Stamps can be sold in sub-post offices but not at main post offices. Many pensioners face increasing problems in meeting gas and electricity bills and it would be of great benefit to them if, when they drew their pensions, they could buy gas and electricity stamps, as they can buy stamps for television licences. Will the hon. Gentleman press the matter more strongly?
§ Mr. Lamont
I agree that stamps should be available through post offices. That is why one of the first things that we did was to discuss that possibility with the industries. As a result, stamps are available through sub-post offices. However, because of the long-standing provisions of the Post Office Act 1969, it is not possible to sell stamps through main post offices or over the counters of sub-post offices. That provision will be removed by the British Telecommunications Bill if the House approves it. The position would be improved along the lines that the hon. Gentleman has suggested.
§ Mr. Thompson
I welcome my hon. Friend's reply, and I am sure that sub-postmasters wilt be delighted with the new development, but will he consider with his ministerial colleagues the possibility of a single stamp being transferable throughout the range of public services—television, gas, electricity and so on?
§ Mr. Lamont
I do not know about energy stamps being interchangeable with television stamps, but the gas and electricity industries will already accept each other's stamps. That was another change that we enabled to take place, though it has not been widely publicised. I wish that more people were aware of it.