HL Deb 24 November 1926 vol 65 cc786-7

EARL RUSSELL rose to ask His Majesty's Government by what right or on what principles the Postmaster-General proposes to deface with advertisements the letters of private people entrusted to him for conveyance under his statutory monopoly. The noble Earl said: My Lords, had it been necessary to raise a debate upon this matter I should have had a good deal to say, but since I first put the Notice on the Paper there has been a reply in another place, from which I gather that the Postmaster-General has finally abandoned this most undesirable scheme. Therefore I merely ask to-day if we may have the substance of that reply and, in addition—I am not quite sure from the report that I saw—whether the abandonment is final and complete, or whether it is a question of the matter being in suspense?


My Lords, as my noble friend has said, this question of putting advertisements on letters was asked a fortnight ago in another place and an answer was there given. With regard to the right on which the Postmaster-General is acting, to which my noble friend refers in his Question, that right was secured by Section 17 of the Economy Act which was passed this year. The Postmaster-General, in his answer in the House of Commons, stated that he does not propose to proceed with this scheme at present as his inquiries have shown that the probable revenue from this source in present circumstances is quite small. He does not therefore propose to put the scheme into operation. I can assure my noble friend that at present it is not his intention to do so. My noble friend will not expect me to go further than that; it is impossible for the Government to give any undertaking or pledge which would bind the future.


My Lords, the noble Earl has in his reply introduced a matter to which I did not refer although it is in my Question, and that is the question of what right the Postmaster-General acted upon. He quoted the section of the Economy Act with which I am perfectly familiar. Had I thought fit to go into the matter I should have disputed that that section invested him with this right. I do not want it to be supposed that the section does, in fact, give him the right. I am sorry he cannot give me an assurance that the abandonment is final so far as this Government is concerned, but we must make the best of the Postmaster-General's present intention.