§ 2.40 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they can in prove the facilities for the receipt and distribution of mail to the ships of the Royal Navy operating in Korean waters, observing that considerable delay is taking place at the present time, and is causing concern in His Majesty's ships.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My Lords, I am not aware of any undue delay in the receipt of mail in His Majesty's ships operating in Korean waters, but if the noble Lord will give me particulars, an investigation will be made. Air mail normally takes from five to six days, and surface mail from six to eight weeks, to get from the United Kingdom to the Fleet mail office in Tokyo, from which distribution to ships takes place. The officers concerned well know the importance of getting mail from the Fleet mail office to the ships as quickly as possible, but operations may impose some unavoidable delay at this stage. The families of Service men will know that an unlimited number of lightweight "Forces" letters can be sent by air mail for the normal cost of 2½d. and that ordinary letters of up to 1½ ozs. can be sent by air for the cost of 6d.
My Lords, arising out of the reply of the noble Viscount, is it not a fact that the Fleet mail office is itself understaffed? Can the noble Viscount take steps to remedy that?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
I have no know-ledge that the Fleet mail office is understaffed, but I will certainly look into the matter and see whether that is so.