§ LORD SOUTHWARK
My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether they are yet, and, if not, when they will be, in the position to state what has been the effect on the Post Office revenue of the recent reductions on postal charges; and when, with the object of promoting further trade revival, will be the earliest date, that the further reduction in charges asked for before the end of this year will be brought into operation.
My reason for asking this Question so early after the recent reduction in postal charges, for which the country is most grateful both to the Postmaster-General and to His Majesty's Government, is that, as this House will not be sitting again till the middle of November, I am most anxious to impress upon the Government the real importance of further reductions in charges which were asked for by the united voice of business men when placing their sliding scale of reductions before His Majesty's Government. The first half of those suggestions was adopted by the Government and, I am happy to say, has been carried into effect. The demand now put forward is for the adoption of the second half of those proposals before the end of the year and for the giving of long public notice of the Government's intention to adopt them. This policy will greatly stimulate the revival of trade and still further greatly increase the Post Office revenue.
1050 I should like to point out that the partial reduction which has taken place in the postal charges means a partial increase to the revenue. This postal question is really of vital importance to the business world, and I hope that the reply of His Majesty's Government will be favourable. I am not, of course, unreasonable enough to expect them to go into detail regarding the increase in revenue; but I hope they will not, in fact I am certain they cannot, say that it has meant a reduction in revenue. I want to impress upon them that the sooner they put this further reduction into operation the better it will be for the trade of the country as well as for the revenue.
§ LORD STANMORE
My Lords, in reply to the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Southwark, it will not be possible for some time to come to arrive at any definite figures as to the increase in correspondence resulting from the recent reductions in postal charges. These reductions were only brought into force at the end of May last, and although some increase in the volume of correspondence has been observed, it is premature to form any conclusion as to the effect on the Post Office revenue for the year, owing to the short time during which the reductions have operated. The possibility of a further reduction in postage rates next year must depend on the surplus available on the Post Office Accounts, and the present information is insufficient to enable a forecast of next year's accounts to be drawn up with any accuracy. The Post Office revenue is dependent in a very large measure upon trade conditions, and as yet it is impossible to predict what those are likely to be during the next financial year.
§ LORD SOUTHWARK
I should like to point out to the noble Lord that we are not asking for this reduction next year; we are asking for it this year. May I ask my noble friend if he can ascertain from the Government or the Post Office authorities whether the increase in postal revenue is not sufficient to justify them in carrying out before the end of the year a policy which is, as I have said, of such vital importance to the commerce of the country?
§ LORD STANMORE
My Lords, I had not realised from the noble Lord's Question as it appears on the Paper that he contemplated any further reduction this year.