HL Deb 19 February 1884 vol 284 cc1313-5

asked Her Majesty's Government, Whether any steps are being taken to extend the benefits of the new parcel post system, so as to enable parcels to be delivered by the letter carriers in the rural districts? At present, in many parts of the country—indeed, in all parts in which letters were carried by postmen walking on foot—it was obviously impossible that, in addition to the ordinary letters, books open at each end, tradesmen's circulars, &o., several parcels of the weight of 5 lbs. or 6 lbs., and measuring, perhaps, 4 feet by 2 feet, or 3 feet by 3 feet, could be carried to their destination. Therefore, persons living in some parts of the country not only derived no advantage from the parcels post, but were under a positive disadvantage, because the par- cel which was directed to them, and the sender of which had complied with the tariff and regulations of the Post Office, and had prepaid it, was only conveyed to the nearest town or village at which there was a railway, or as far as a mail cart now travelled, and then the person to whom the parcel was directed had to pay something additional for its conveyance by private means. Thus the transmission of the parcel was paid for at both ends. If the parcels post system was to continue, it seemed right that its benefits should be conferred on all alike, in the rural districts as well as in the urban; and the only way seemed to be that light carts, or some vehicles, should be provided which would reach all the post offices in the Kingdom. If that could be done, it would confer the additional benefit of expediting the delivery of letters in all parts of the Kingdom. Now, and as long as the Post Office was a paying Department of the Government, it seemed wrong to tax one part of the community for the benefit of another, and no revenue arising from it ought to be appropriated till similar facilities for sending and receiving letters and parcels were afforded as much as possible to all.


, in reply, said, that, as a matter of fact, very full use was now made by the Post Office of the rural postmen in all parts of the country, both in the collection and delivery of parcels; but if the noble Earl would state more specifically in what respect he desired to indicate a still further development of the parcel post careful consideration should be given to his suggestions. The parcel post was a new and complicated institution, requiring the experience of a few years before it could be perfected. In the establishment of so large a branch of business by the Post Office, it was difficult at the outset to provide against every individual case of hardship; but since they had been brought to his notice the Postmaster General had investigated and dealt with on its merits each case that had been brought before him, and he would be thankful to the noble Earl if he would draw his attention to any remaining cases. The public had already derived very great advantage from the new system, both directly and indirectly—directly as an additional means of transit, and in- directly by the competition brought to bear on Railway Companies, which had induced them all to reduce their rates for the conveyance of parcels by about one-half—a reduction which, it was believed, would be completely recouped by them by increased traffic. The Postmaster General was fully alive to the fact that there might be some improvements made in the new system, and, being most anxious to perfect it in all its branches, would carefully consider any suggestions made by the noble Earl.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter past Ten o'clock.