§ 2.36 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make on the policy suggested in this House on various occasions since 1953, and strongly supported by, inter alios, the British Travel and Holidays Association and the Scottish Tourist Board, to substitute for some of the present stamps of low values small pictorial stamps of low values which would advertise to the world in extensive fashion some of the scenic beauties and historical monuments of the British Isles.]90
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Postmaster General does not accept the noble Viscount's proposal that stamps of low value should feature scenic beauties and historical monuments even for advertising purposes. He thinks it wrong that in stamps for everyday use we should depart from the honoured and accepted tradition that the Queen's head should be the dominant theme, the country of origin remaining unnamed. The new stamp policy he announced last week is based on the maintenance of this principle. The new stamps will provide for a variety of design which has been warmly welcomed in the areas concerned while symbolising traditional unity under the Crown.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his Answer. May I ask whether the Postmaster General, before rejecting my proposals for the small low-value pictorial stamps which I exhibited to this House, had trial designs of stamps printed in colour so that he could see what they would look like?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I have no knowledge that my right honourable friend did anything of the kind. As I have previously informed the noble Viscount, it would certainly not be satisfactory to proceed to matters of detail before the policy was decided.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether, before announcing the new stamp policy, the Postmaster General had any designs printed in colour so that he could see what the proposed new stamps were going to look like?
My Lords, before the noble Lord replies to that, may I ask two supplementary questions arising out of his main Answer? The first is: Is not the engraving of separate national designs on postage stamps contrary to the Act of Union? I asked that question when we had a debate on the subject, and I repeat it now, I am sure the noble Lord will be able to reply to it. The other question is this. If so much attention is being given to these nationalist designs, can the noble Lord carry the matter a little further and have the lettering on the Welsh stamp printed in Welsh?
My Lords, in answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, may I say that I do not know for certain whether my right honourable friend had such trial designs made. If the noble Viscount is very keen, I can certainly find out and let him know. I should have thought that my right honourable friend would not have done so, for the very reason I have just stated: that it is much more wise and practical to adopt one's policy before going into matters of detail. In answer to the second question of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, I may say that the whole matter of the design of the stamps is under consideration, and I should hesitate to say anything in anticipation of what they might look like, or what might be incorporated in the design. So far as the Act of Union is concerned, I am afraid I shall require notice of that question.
My Lords, is it not the case that I gave the noble Lord notice when we had a debate on the subject? I think that is sufficient notice, and he ought to have been prepared to answer.
My Lords, arising out of the last reply of the noble Lord, may I ask him whether, in actual fact, the policy did not depend upon the designs which were going to be incorporated in the stamps? if it is the case that the Postmaster General has not had any trial designs made, he does not know what the stamps will look like: in other words, with great respect to the Postmaster General, he is buying a pig in a poke.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I must utterly and completely reject the noble Viscount's insinuation. I have never yet heard of a motor car manufacturer building a motor car and then wondering whether he could sell it to anybody.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, may I ask the Minister, with regard to this sidetracking statement that he has made on behalf of the Postmaster General, whether he is not completely ignoring the purport of the Question and the policy that is advocated by the noble Viscount? This is to encourage and facilitate the Pilgrim's Progress, and what could do that better than by putting on the ubiquitous stamps pictures of the Interpreter's House, the Delectable Mountains and the Celestial City? Will not the noble Lord have 92 another look at this matter, to endeavour to help us to overcome the Hill Difficulty?
My Lords, before the noble Lord answers, may I say that I gave the Government plenty of notice in the debate. If the Government are not prepared to give an answer, will they consider the matter and could an answer be circulated with the OFFICIAL REPORT?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I have already said to the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, that if I had proper notice of that Question I could answer it. I do not think that remarks made in the course of a debate can really be construed as proper notice, in view of the fact that the debate took place a matter of weeks before the existence of the stamps was announced. The noble Lord will recall that the debate was not on the subject of any form of national designs on stamps. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Mathers, I would say that if I should appear to have made some form of side-tracking statement, perhaps he would like me to repeat what I thought were the very clear words of my right honourable friend: that he does not accept the noble Viscount's proposal that stamps of low value should feature scenic beauties and historical monuments, even for advertising purposes. I do not think the noble Lord can call that a sidetracking statement.
My Lords, I am sorry to press the noble Lord's memory. but he will remember that in the debate a national stamp for Scotland was suggested and I asked the Government whether that would not be contrary to the Act of Union. I received no reply in the debate. Surely, after that, the noble Lord cannot say that the matter was not properly brought to the attention of the Government.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, with all deference to the noble Lord, it may be a proper subsidiary question to ask but it does not arise from this particular Question. The Act of Union goes far wider than the Question that is on the Paper.
—these stamps have been proposed, and whether or not they are contrary to the Act of Union is surely a primary consideration in the proposals.