HL Deb 09 February 1955 vol 190 cc1061-3

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, with a view to portraying to the world in extensive fashion some of the scenic beauties and historical monuments of the British Isles, they can now give favourable consideration to the issue, at no distant date, of small British pictorial stamps of low values of the approximate size of the very attractive low-values Northern Rhodesian pictorial stamps bearing the Sovereign's head which are only 2mm. longer, and 4mm. broader (outside measurements) than the equivalent low values British stamps.


My Lords, the present low-value stamps have been in use for only quite a short time. I think they have on the whole been very well received, and I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is much too early yet to think of further changes such as the noble Viscount suggests. But when the time comes to issue new stamps of lower value, I am quite prepared to consider whether pictorial designs can be used on a limited basis. One example of this might be the 6d. stamp on the air letter form.

I do intend to use pictorial designs of a series of historic buildings for the four high-value stamps of the new Reign which have yet to be issued. I must confess that my experience with these stamps has shown how difficult it is to combine well the head of the Queen with good pictorial designs. It is these very real practical difficulties that make me doubly cautious about committing myself at this stage for the lower values. I know your Lordship would not wish me to produce anything not worthy of the subject and of the traditions of British stamps, and it is to avoid doing this that I am taking rather longer than I had expected to issue the new high-value stamps. I hope, however, that it will not now be long before they can be put on sale.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl For that Answer. Is he aware that the British Travel and Holidays Association, the Scottish Tourist Board and eminent firms and persons in the public life of this country are all strongly in favour of my proposal as it stands on the Order Paper?


My Lords, I do not think I am aware of that fact. I know that at the time of the somewhat extended use of the Coronation stamps I had considerable complaints from various trading bodies of the nuisance of having to handle these large stamps. There are two sides to the question. Still, the matter is not closed, and when we do come to the question of considering new low-value stamps, as I have told the noble Viscount, I shall have an open mind on the matter.


But is it not the case that the British Travel and Holiday Association, the Scottish Tourist Board and other eminent firms and persons have written to the noble Earl stating their strong support for my proposal as it appears on the Order Paper?


Yes. But, as head of the Post Office for the time being, I have to consider stamps from the point of view primarily of their postal use, and not for the purposes of encouraging travel. I have expressed some sympathy with the view of the noble Viscount, but I cannot go further than that.


My Lords, we now have it established that they have written to the noble Earl. May I ask whether he has not seen the stamps, of the measurements on the Order Paper, issued by the Southern Rhodesian and Northern Rhodesian Governments? These are attractive pictorial stamps in every way, and would, I hope, meet every objection to the small pictorial stamp that the noble Earl has urged.


My Lords, I have no comment to make on stamps used by other Administrations. I think I can assert, also, that our stamps, as at present in use, are considered extremely attractive.


My Lords, does not the noble Earl know it to be the case that, when the large stamp was issued to celebrate the Coronation, people in more than one post office asked to be supplied with the smaller stamp in order to avoid the extra labour caused by licking double the area?


My Lords, I am not urging the larger stamp. What I am proposing is the smaller pictorial stamp.


My Lords, is the Minister not aware that, in deciding to go in for pictorial stamps of the high values, he is putting himself in the position of incurring the odium that is expressed against certain countries which continue to change their stamps of high value from time to time, not for postal use but in order to get revenue from collectors of stamps? May I ask him whether he does not recognise that the Answer he has given to the noble Viscount to-day is lamentably conservative, and that there is at least one Member of this House who finds it very difficult to reconcile his estimate of the Minister himself with the lamentable Answer which he has given?


My Lords, I beg to give the noble Earl notice that I will raise this question again at a future date.

Back to