HL Deb 17 May 1956 vol 197 cc505-35

3.18 p.m.

VISCOUNT EUBANK rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider the advisability of issuing small British pictorial stamps of low values bearing the Sovereign's head in order to portray to the world in extensive fashion some of the scenic beauties and historical monuments of the British Isles and to assist the British Travel and Holidays Association and the Scottish Tourist Board in attracting tourists to the United Kingdom; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. At the outset, may I emphasise the words "small pictorial stamps of low values" and say at once that I am not interested in large pictorial stamps of high values. They do not circulate extensively enough or in such numbers to achieve the purposes which I, and those noble Lords who support this Motion to-day, have in view. In order to illustrate this point, I propose to quote an answer given to me by the former Postmaster General, the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, on March 15, 1955. I asked the noble Earl whether he would give me the figures showing the approximate number of postage stamps issued in 1954 of different values, and this was the ex-Postmaster General's answer [OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 191, col. 1053]: The approximate numbers of postage stamps issued in 1954 of values mentioned by the noble Viscount were:—2½d., 2,900 million; 3d., 121 million; 4d., 83 million. Then we get a great drop down to the 2s. 6d. stamps: 2s. 6d., 10 million; 5s. 5 million; 10s., 2.5 million;… and of £1 stamps a paltry 600,000. I am asking that a large number of the huge categories of lower value stamps should be issued in future in the form of small pictorial stamps.

In a leading article in the Scotsman of February 10, 1955, these words were used: Few would advocate a constantly changing series of catchpenny stamps but with the wealth of material available in this country of long history, great achievements, and architectural arid scenic richness, it seems unduly cautious to confine pictorial stamps to the little used high values. Pictorial stamps in widely used denominations could be of great value to us economically, æsthetically and in prestige. Stamps have long since acquired values quite outside their primary functions. In the Daily Telegraph on the same date—February 10, 1955—there was a leading article on the same question, in which the following words were used: Small low-value pictorial stamps would help our tourist trade would give a fillip to collectors and give pleasure to a great number of ordinary people.

In order to view the subject of my Motion in its propel perspective, I think it would be helpful to your Lordships if I briefly ran through the history of this matter as evidenced by the questions I have put in this House during the last few years and the answers which I have received to them. I first raised this matter on October 20, 1953—two and a half years ago. I asked the Government to consider issuing stamps of low values of an attractive nature in order to portray to the world some of die scenic beauties and historical monuments of the British Isles. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, answered my question on behalf of the Postmaster General, and he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 183, col. 1243]: The low value stamps, that is stamps up to a value of 1s. 6d., in their present size do not lend themselves to effective pictorial designs. I asked the noble Earl whether he considered his reply a good reason against the introduction of lower value stamps of a small size, and I said that I held in my hand twenty-five examples of stamps of a low value issued by Commonwealth and other countries of a small size and of a pictorial nature. Those stamps were actually slightly larger than our current issue. I also asked the noble Earl whether he was aware that the British Travel Association, the Scottish Tourist Board and all the stamp societies in this country are heartily in favour of my proposal? The noble Earl then asked me whether I proposed removing the Monarch's head from the stamp and I said that I certainly did not; and I showed him a copy of a stamp issued by Northern Rhodesia showing the Monarch's head on it, that stamp being only slightly larger than our 2½d. stamp.

I came hack again to this subject on March 9, 1954, when I asked the then Postmaster-General a Question in similar terms to that which stands on the Order Paper to-day. In reply, the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, said again [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 186, col. 177]: ªthe low value stamps in their present size do not lend themselves very readily to effective pictorial designs. He then went on to say (col. 178) that as the series of low value stamps of the new reign has just been completed, this is perhaps not the best moment for considering any basic change in their content. That was in March, 1954, which is just over two years ago. Then I came back to the subject on February 9, 1955, when I again put the same Question to the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr. He replied on that occasion [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 190, col. 1061]: 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 will come back in a moment to the first reply of the noble Earl, but in the course of one of his answers to the series of supplementary questions that I put to him he said this (col. 1062): I have to consider stamps from the point of view primarily of their postal use, and not for the purposes of encouraging travel. It is true that the noble Earl used the word "primarily," but I must confess that the rest of his answer seemed to me—and, after all, I had had many years in the other place and some half a dozen years in your Lordships' House—in some respects to be a negation of the doctrine of collective ministerial responsibility in this matter.

In that connection of collective ministerial responsibility, the situation was aptly and adequately described in an excellent speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, in a debate on the tourist industry on July 7, 1955, and with the indulgence of your Lordships I will read what he then said. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 193, col. 541.]: Of course, the Government are acutely interested in the tourist industry—and why indeed not? As has been brought out in this debate this afternoon, our tourist industry now claims. I think with some justification, to be almost our highest net earner of dollars. The figures which two or three noble Lords have given, showing a rise of from 500,000 visitors in 1937 to about 1 million now, and earnings of £43 million then to about £136 million now make that point perfectly clear. Later on in his speech the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said (col. 549): I hope I have given no impression that Her Majesty's Government are complacent about the tourist industry. We are eager to do everything possible to help, encourage, support and foster the industry.… As the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, wisely said, tourism is one of our great national assets, and Her Majesty's Government are only too happy to play their full part—to put it at its crudest—at selling these assets to the greatest number of buyers we can persuade to come to look at our shop window. We do that not only because we certainly need the cash, but also because the more people who come to Britain, the better for us and the better for them.

I pass from the doctrine of collective ministerial responsibility and come back to one of the answers given to me by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, on February 9, 1955. He said he was aware that the British Travel and Holidays Association, the Scottish Tourist Board and other eminent firms were in favour of my proposal. Let us be quite clear on that point. I know that at least one other speaker to-day is going to deal with this subject at some length, so I will confine myself to one or two sentences on it. The British Travel and Holidays Association informed the Postmaster General of the time, on December 16, 1954, that: This matter"— that is, the subject of small pictorial low value stamps— has been the subject of discussion on a number of our Committees and the Board. We are convinced that the use of suitable scenes as a background on our postage stamps could be of great value to the nation as emphasising Britain's tourist attractions. So far as the Scottish Tourist Board is concerned, other noble Lords will emphasise the fact that that Board strongly supports the proposals which I am submitting to your Lordships to-day.

Now I come back for one moment to the answer given to me by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr—namely, that his experience with these stamps had shown how difficult it is to combine well the head of the Queen with good pictorial designs. I have taken the liberty of circulating, so far as I could, some reproductions of low value stamps of pictorial design, and I hope that there are sufficient copies for every Member in the House at the present moment and that noble Lords have seen these designs. These attractive trial photographic designs which your Lordships have in front of you are of exactly the same size as our small stamps now in circulation. They were produced for me by a well-known firm of philatelists who are the publishers of the standard British Postage Stamp Catalogue and who, therefore, in my opinion, have the widest possible knowledge of postage stamps throughout the world. As your Lordships who have looked at these reproductions will observe, the designs show all the essential requirements of British stamps: the Sovereign's head, a bold value, and "Postage Revenue", added to which arc, highly presentable pictures of historic objects and scenery. The subjects that could be portrayed are, of course, numerous. There is another point which is worthy of mention, and that is that, if it were thought more appropriate, some scenic designs could be portrayed horizontally on the stamp, instead of vertically, the overall size of the stamp remaining the same.

What I wish to submit to your Lordships to-day is that the argument that it is difficult to combine well on small stamps the head of the Monarch with good pictorial designs is completely answered by the designs that I have displayed to your Lordships to-day. I would say that the portrayal of the Queen's head used on these particular designs is not necessarily of authorised specimens. Further, were it necessary for the designs to be horizontal, then the size of the Queen's head could be slightly reduced, as is the case on some of the Rhodesian stamps and the stamps with the Monarch's head which are issued on the Gold Coast.

Many pictorial stamps issued by other countries—and here I come to the technical side—are recess printed. The fact that the British postal authorities employ the photogravure process constitutes, in my judgment, no obstacle to the attainment of my objective. The authoritative advice given to me is that small low-value pictorial stamps could be produced by the same modern high-speed photogravure process as is employed in producing the present small-size stamps of low values. This means that no extra expense would be incurred in the production costs of small pictorials. On the other hand, it is likely that extra revenue would he derived from the increased numbers of visitors brought to this country through the British Travel Association and the Scottish Tourist Board, and also from increased sales to visitors, collectors and other persons.

What I am asking for to-day, at the end of three years, is a revolution in thought and action on the part of Her Majesty's Government in relation to small low-value pictorial stamps, and the complete abandonment of the idea that the stamp is merely a label for the pre-payment of postage. Almost every country in the world produces pictorial stamps of low, as well as high, values, and of varying sizes, to tell of the country's history, industries, scenic beauties, and historical monuments. Sometimes there are even special tourist issues. I submit that there is no technical difficulty in the way if the Postmaster General would agree to take advantage of this splendid medium of advertising the interests and the attractions of the United Kingdom through small low-value pictorial stamps, as shown in the trial designs which I have submitted to your Lordships. If it so happened that there were any preliminary administrative difficulties to be surmounted, then I suggest that they ought to be surmounted, as they have been in other countries.

I hope that I shall receive from the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, who is to reply to this debate on behalf of the Government, not only a sympathetic reply to my request but at long last an assurance that the Postmaster General proposes to take action at the earliest possible moment, on the lines which I have suggested in my remarks to-day. In my view, my proposal, apart from its æsthetic and commercial side, is of an eminently practical nature, entailing no extra expense but, on the contrary, likely to be productive of substantially increased revenue to the Exchequer in several ways. If the noble Lord has any practical technical objections to offer which have escaped me and my advisers in this matter, then I hope he will state them clearly so that they can be examined and we can all see where we are in the matter. But it is my hope that nothing will now stand in the way of an early realisation of the objectives to which I have given expression to-day. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, I have great pleasure in supporting the plea made so eloquently and so carefully by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. He has been very patient in connection with this matter. As a matter of fact, he has allowed the idea that he put forward fourteen months ago a great deal of time to sink into the minds of those who are responsible for deciding about new stamp design. There has been in the meantime, of course, a change of Postmaster General and I am hoping we may find that there has been a change of view during these fourteen months. However, the noble Viscount's effort of fourteen months and more—because he was on the job more than fourteen months ago—has not been entirely unavailing. It has produced not exactly what those of us who are associated with him desire, but it has produced, in respect of high value stamps, four castles—though it seems to me that fourteen months is a long time to take to produce even four castles, one in England (I will put the countries in alphabetical, instead of meritorious, order): one in Ireland, one in Scotland and one in Wales. It is too long a time to carry out a change like this and bring it within the realm of ordinarily used stamps. Only the high-value stamps were used to depict a castle in reference to each of the countries.

I think that the case that has been made by the noble Viscount is unassailable, on sound grounds, on grounds of common sense. It seems to me that the only thing that can stand in the way of doing something along the lines that he is asking—I do not want to use uncharitable words—is a stubbornness that is not in keeping with the sort of point of view that is to be expected in a matter of this kind. To make the change that he is asking would, I believe, be of educational value and of financial advantage. He has shown that the Scottish Tourist Board and the similar organisation south of the Border are in favour of using stamps to make known the scenic and other beauties of the British Isles. I am sure that that argument is a very sound one.

Then, of course, there is the claim that we should not seek to cater for stamp collectors. I have been in touch with philatelists, and they are in favour of a change of this kind being made. There is nothing derogatory in providing for a useful and pleasurable hobby like stamp collecting by issuing a new kind of stamp that would be an inducement to the purchase of stamps. There seems to me to be no doubt at all that this would lead to a very great sale of stamps, even though they might not be used for the purposes for which they were designed but might be kept by collectors. I do not see anything wrong in that—indeed, we have a Government to-day who are seeking to find money in different ways and are now planning to find it in what I consider to be less reputable ways than would be represented by providing philatelists with the opportunity of acquiring fresh stamps. I do not want to be tempted to start riding any of my hobby-horses. Noble Lords are sufficiently well aware of my views to agree that there is a sound argument in what I am saying, and that there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong in seeking to make the change for which the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has been contending so persuasively.

We are told that we must not frequently be altering the design of stamps that we have in operation. I agree. I should not care for us constantly to be producing new stamps merely in order to put on them pictures of places for the benefit of tourists or other purposes, but the claim that is made by the Post Office, which was mentioned by the noble Viscount in his speech, was that the Post Office, or at least the Minister, had told him that what had to be considered first was the use to which the stamps were put. I make bold to say that it is time we had a change in stamps because of the use to which certain of the stamps of the present issue are put. Noble Lords will agree entirely with me when I say that the most unsuitable stamp to use as a receipt stamp is the one that is to-day our 2d. stamp, printed in dark brown, making it almost impossible to read a signature that is written across it. There is one argument, at least, though it may be a small one, for having another look at the design and colouring of the stamps that we have in use to-day.

The case in favour of the change contended for by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has been completely proved, and the trouble he has taken to get these photographic reproductions of sample stamps that might be the outcome of a change such as is being asked for is complete proof of the lack of justification for the attitude taken up in the past by the Postmaster General—or, shall I say, by the Post Office? I do not want to describe it as a reactionary attitude, because, members of the Party to which I belong have been in the position of being Postmaster General, but I will use the word "unenterprising." There is a lack of enterprise being shown by the Post Office at the present, day. The noble Viscount has provided an opportunity of getting rid of that unsatisfactory way of looking at things and clinging simply to the past because of what it is. In my judgment, that is a wrong attitude. I support most heartily the plea that is made by the noble Viscount, and I hope that to-day he will receive a better answer than he received fourteen months ago.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, you will, I hope, agree, or assume, that I am a man of prayer. I am anxious to play such part as I can in the deliberations of this House. I had wondered how I could easily, or indeed properly, break into the deliberations of this House, and I wondered what issue could possibly arise which would call for no kind of political knowledge or experience. Your Lordships will understand, therefore, how grateful I was to come into this House this afternoon and see this Motion upon the Order Paper, a Motion which calls for no political knowledge.

I am anxious to support this Motion, for two reasons. I have a son who is still in preparatory school. Your Lordships may, with difficulty, remember from your own experiences that stamp collecting commands a considerable amount of attention and excitement in preparatory schools, and I suppose we can all remember that, in comparison with the stamps of other countries, those of Great Britain are dull. Of course, they carry the head of the Monarch, but they carry no other mark of origin. As we all know, that indicates that this country was the pioneer of the postal system. We understand all that. Nevertheless, they are dull and there is something to be said for increasing the interest of our stamps. I come from a part of the country which is greatly interested in the tourist industry. I was a little depressed when, just a moment or two ago, I was shown the samples which have been circulated round the House, to see that there was no pictorial representation on the suggested stamps of the county from which I have the honour to come. But that is a detail which can be rectified at any moment.

I greatly hope that this Motion of the noble Viscount may receive serious consideration from Her Majesty's Government. The days when it was sufficient for this country to stand, upon its ancient tradition and reputation are, I think, past. We ought, with what dignity we can command, to enter into what is undoubtedly a fact—the competition which now exists in the issue of stamps. Only this morning I examined two stamps on an ordinary letter of business coming from France, each of which contained the most delectable representations of important and interesting buildings in that country. I examined them with great interest, and I thought to myself, as I did so, that, all being well, one day I would go and see these places. But nothing of that kind is ever presented on the stamps of Great Britain, and I beg to support the noble Viscount in his plea that our stamps should contain some indication of the great number of immensely interesting buildings, vistas and so on which are to be seen in Great Britain.

I would ask the noble Viscount, if he has again to move this Motion (though I hope that will not be necessary, and that Her Majesty's Government will take action), to include a number of vistas from my county of Devon. I shall he happy to supply him with half a dozen or more. But I hope that serious consideration will be given to this matter because it is surely beyond question that the country cannot now live in the 19th century, when all our stamps bore only the head of the Monarch and no mark. With the cheaper denominations of stamps we ought now to print some which bear both the head of the Monarch and indications of the splendour and the history of our noble country.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, this is. I believe the first occasion upon which your Lordships' House has heard the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter, and on your Lordships' behalf I would congratulate him on his most eloquent speech and the clear way in which he has put his point, and express the hope that we may hear from him again frequently.

At a time when there are so many great affairs of State under review, it may seem trivial that your Lordships should be considering a Motion regarding the advisability of issuing small pictorial postage stamps. In fact, this subject is far from trivial. We, as a nation, are faced with economic pressures, both internal and external, such as we have seldom previously experienced. It is becoming almost trite to say that we must export to live; yet we seem completely to be disregarding the other slogan, "It pays to advertise." Visible exports are easy to comprehend, but they alone fall far short of our essential earnings. Among visible exports the development of the tourist trade has been one of the most spectacular of recent years. Sometimes one is inclined to think that the tourist trade, like Topsy, "just growed," but in reality the opposite is the case. The British Travel and Holiday Association and the Scottish Tourist Board, of which latter body I have the honour to be a member, strive constantly both to bring in more tourists and to improve the conditions which they find when they get here.

It was recently my good fortune to be a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to West Africa. Before we left, I inquired what contacts the Scottish Tourist Board had in the four territories to which we were going, and I found that there were hardly any. I took the trouble to meet various Caledonian societies on the West Coast, and was greatly impressed by the desire not only of the expatriate Scots, or even of the other Europeans with whom we spoke, but also of the Africans, to come to Scotland; but I was distressed to find that this desire was frustrated by ignorance of the places to go to and of the things to be seen. Even to us who live here, and far more to the foreign guest, there is in Great Britain much of beauty and interest which we neglect and of whose existence we sometimes never know. The standard tour of Great Britain includes London, of course, Oxford, Stratford, York and perhaps a dash to Edinburgh in the process. I know many tourists who came on the advice that Scotland could be seen in one and a half days.

The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has shown your Lordships some possible designs for small pictorial stamps, but I would ask your Lordships to consider for a moment some other possible subjects: the cliffs of Orkney, the grandeur of Skye or Glencoe, the palms of Lochewe, the strength of the Forth Bridge and the quiet of Dryburgh Abbey. Again, South of the Border there are the castles, the cathedrals and the ancient monuments of all sorts which have their own magnetism, but of which the foreign guest too often remains in complete ignorance. I believe that we could greatly increase the tourist trade by a pictorial illustration of the places to be seen, combined—though perhaps this is too radical—with postmarks indicating how to obtain further information.

The last year before the war during which touring was readily available and unrestricted was, as the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, has said, 1937, for in 1938 the shadow of Munich was already a deterrent. In 1937, the total number of visitors to Great Britain was slightly under half a million, of whom about 100,000 came from the United States; and the national income from the tourist trade was probably of the order of £40 million—the figure is always hard to arrive at. In 1955 we received considerably over one million foreign tourists, and of these nearly a quarter of a million came from the United States; as compared with £40 million 1937, in 1955 the figure of £100 million was exceeded for the first time.

So that your Lordships may appreciate what this means, I should like to give one or two comparative figures. First, tourism is an invisible export the mention of which will bring to mind that other great invisible export—the shipping industry. In 1955 the net value of the shipping industry as an invisible export was about £120 million; and among visible exports the value of private cars and taxis exported was between £100 million and £120 million. One of the greatest Scottish exports of which we hear a good deal is whisky: but compared with the tourist industry's over £100 million, the value of whisky exports is under £50 million. Of all our exports in 1955, tourism was the biggest single dollar earner. With such spectacular success it surely must be in the national interest to do everything possible to tell the world what we have to offer; and in what better way can this be done than by advertising in every letter sent abroad the attractions which are available? Thus far I have confined my remarks to the value of pictorial stamps to the tourist trade, but there is the other, quite real, value of the adoption of such stamps. The number of stamp collectors in the world is legion, and the issue of such stamps would undoubtedly create a collectors' demand whereby the Post Office would receive the face value of the stamps sold as a straight bonus to its revenue.

What are the objections? Is it just that it is easier to say "No" than to say "Yes"? Is it, perhaps, just that we have not done it before? But surely we must move with the times and not accept mere custom as an excuse for failing to do something from what we might benefit. It is true that pictorial postage stamps would be likely to inconvenience the Post Office and might involve a slight increase in the cost of production; but these objections must be insignificant compared with the advantages to be gained. It is not as though there is anything new in the proposal. We ourselves have had pictorial postage stamps from time to time, in both the United Kingdom and the Colonies, and they have become a familiar part of the pattern of life in the United States and most Continental countries. With those remarks, I strongly support the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, in asking Her Majesty's Government to arrange that we put our goods in the shop window and do not leave them on a dusty shelf.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, as a philatelist, in a modest way, I am glad of the opportunity of supporting the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, in his plea to Her Majesty's Government to make our British postage stamps more interesting and to appreciate their immense possibilities for telling the world about Britain. Any criticism which I have to make about the existing pattern of British stamps must not, and I trust will not, be construed as in any way disrespectful to Her Majesty The Queen, for whom I, like all your Lordships, have the deepest loyalty and affection.

One does not need to be a stamp collector to know how badly our stamps compare with those of other countries. Their monotonous pattern has scarcely changed since stamps were first issued in this country in 1840. The British are, and have always been, a great letter-writing people. Letters bearing British stamps, are delivered almost daily in every corner of the world, carrying business and personal messages; and they could, if our stamps were properly designed, advertise the greatness, the traditions and the beauty of our country. As the noble Lord who has just spoken has indicated, every other country but ours use stamps as a kind of shop window to display to the world features of national life, industry and culture.

The number of stamps issued and sold in the United Kingdom is stupendous. According to the Postmaster General the total last year reached 76,776 million stamps, to the value of £81½ million. Yet this vast field for telling the world about the traditions and glories of Britain is almost completely neglected. It is art extraordinary thing, as the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, has also indicated, that we are the only country in the world which does not put the name of our country on our stamps. Our stamps are completely anonymous. The only words appearing are "E.R." and "Postage Revenue". I will pass some stamps round to your Lordships so that you may see them—but I should like them back.

I should like also to draw the attention of the Postmaster General to the effectiveness of what are called "commemorative" stamps which are so popular elsewhere. I should like to see, from time to time, issues of stamps commemorating notable incidents in our history, for which, as has been said by noble Lords who have already spoken, we have an abundant field in this country on which to draw. In my Gibbons Stamp Monthly for May, I notice, among many new issues of commemorative stamps, the following examples. Australia is issuing a set of stamps to commemorate the Olympic Games being held in Melbourne; France is commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Battle of Verdun; Switzerland is telling about the Simplon Tunnel, and the United States is commemorating Theodore Roosevelt and Mount Vernon.

For many years other countries have taken advantage of the facility provided by the issue of commemorative stamps to finance charitable and other objects of interest. I go further probably than the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, and recommend to the Postmaster General that we might do the same. Each year Holland produces a set of "Child Welfare" stamps which are sold with a small surcharge on the face value, the proceeds being given to financing various aspects of child welfare like polio research, homes for spastics and so on.

There is another advantage for Britain in this suggested new policy—namely, in the field of sport. In these days, as a result of the growth and importance of international sport, commemorative stamps are frequently issued to finance sporting projects in the national interest. Other countries are to-day bringing out new issues to help finance their entrants in the Olympic Games in Australia. As your Lordships know, the financing of British entrants in the Olympic Games has created a problem and looks like affecting the size and quality of our entries. I noticed that in the Daily Telegraph of May 7 "Peterborough" wrote: The Royal Yachting Association arc worried, I hear, by the British entry for the Olympic Games. Unless they can find the money to pay the cost of getting the boats to Melbourne we shall not be able to send a full team. In my view this would be an ideal subject for an issue of commemorative stamps, illustrating the yachting prowess of this country and, at the same time, helping to raise the necessary money to pay for our entry to the Olympic Games.

Next year, we shall be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Boy Scout Movement and, by a happy coincidence, the centenary of the birth of the founder of that movement—the first Lord Baden-Powell. Scouting for boys is practised nowadays all over the world, and a number of other countries are certain to be making issues of commemorative stamps to celebrate this Golden Jubilee. It would be unfortunate if Britain, which gave scouting to the world, should be the one country that neglected to take advantage of the occasion by issuing commemorative stamps in its honour.

The issue of new sets of stamps of more attractive design would not only increase our tourist trade but would bring increased revenue to the Post Office and more dollars to Britain. I doubt whether the popularity and extent of stamp collecting as a world-wide hobby is sufficiently appreciated. It is estimated, on the best authority, that there are over two million stamp collectors in this country and about twenty million in the United States of America. There are also, of course, large numbers in Germany, Austria and Holland.

In conclusion, may I say how indebted we should be to the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, not only for raising this matter but also for distributing round the House those interesting examples showing what can be done. It is extraordinary that all the things which the noble Viscount and I are urging the Postmaster General to do are already being done by Commonwealth Countries and by the Colonies of the British Empire. Their stamps are a delight to the eye. They invariably include a portrait of Her Majesty. They also perform a tremendous service in publicising the places from which they are issued. The result is that these colonial stamps bring a very large income into the coffers of the Colonies. Proof of their attractiveness may be found in the fact that British colonial stamps are probably the most popular stamps with philatelists all over the world. For these reasons, my Lords, I have pleasure in supporting the Motion.

4.14 p.m.


My Lords, I seem to be alone, but before I start to rejoice in my Horatian position and to lash about me with my lath sword I should like to say how delighted I was at the entry of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter into a debate of this kind—what I might call a real "tip and run" debate. I hope we shall hear the right reverend Prelate on many occasions in the future.

In the first place I want to dispose of one thing as being outside the terms of the Motion—I refer to the talk of commemorative stamps, because, as I understand the noble Viscount's Motion, it refers to small stamps. Is that not so? And anyone who remembers the anger and irritation caused in local post offices when, at the time of the Coronation, post office officials refused to sell single-size stamps to people who were using as much as £1 worth of stamps every two days or so, and who had not the necessary saliva to lick double-size stamps, will be grateful to the noble Viscount for limiting his Motion to the small stamps.


Would the noble Earl suggest that there is less saliva in the United States and Canada, where these large stamps are used every day in enormous quantities?


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. If he will consider, I am drawing attention to the terms of the Motion, and the irritation of which I have spoken is something to which I can testify, because I witnessed manifestations of it on several occasions. Whether we have less saliva or not than some other peoples, I can tesify that we certainly had a great deal of irritation just after the Coronation for the reason I have mentioned. Indeed a Question, supporting what I have said, was asked about the matter in your Lordships' House.

The point has been made that the issue of these pictorial stamps would greatly help the tourist industry. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, stressed that in particular. We have been told that we shall publicise our country and show many glorious scenes that people can see when they come here. Presumably it is because these stamps will be found on letters despatched to addresses abroad from this country that most of these scenes are going to be found upon 4d. stamps. I thought it was part of the noble Viscount's idea that these designs were not to be changed to-morrow and the next day and the next day, arid that we were not going to be asked to have a multiplicity of 4d. stamps; we were going to be asked to choose a pictorial design. There is a very limited number of scenes in our country that could thus be portrayed, so that the argument on that score seems to me not to be very strong.

This is, after all, a matter of taste, and one must express what one thinks. I wish to say that I differ from those noble Lords who have expressed admiration for the designs which have been submitted to your Lordships by the noble Viscount. Lord Elibank. In the first place, they contain many scenes with which we in this country are familiar, and superimposed upon them is a small representation of the head of the Sovereign. As a piece of design that, I am bound to say, I think is very bad; and I always have thought it very bad. If we are going to send abroad pictures of Britain, they should be pictures of Britain; and to have a human head in the sky over the scene seems to me to be a kind of hybrid. That certainly does not please me in the least. Pictorially, it is a kind of centaur. Your Lordships will remember that although the horse is probably the most beautiful animal in creation, arid although the centaur is probably the most tolerable monster that the human mind has conceived, yet it has found very little representation in art. I mention that to support my view that these designs are not beautiful.

I do not think that any pictorial designs I have ever seen on postage stamps have been very attractive to me—except one, and that was on the stamp of Chefoo, which attracted me vastly at the age of eleven. It was a pure pictorial design without any head upon it at all.

VISCOUNT ELIBANK May I point out to the noble Lord that one of the essential requirements as I understand, of all British stamps is that the Monarch's head should appear?


That is perfectly true, and I hope it will always be so. And that is one reason why I hope that the noble Viscount's Motion will not be effective, because I do not like this kind of combination. I very much hope that the Monarch's head will always appear upon our stamps. I think that the designs of our stamps have been the admiration of the world. The fist postage stamps in the reign of Queen Victoria are still amongst the most beautiful stamps ever produced. The size of the stamps is exactly suited to the head of the Monarch, and the whole thing is perfectly in proportion and in keeping. I still look with the greatest admiration at those old "Penny Blacks". If I were to criticise the present design of our stamps, my criticism would be that the head of the, Sovereign is too small on the stamps and ought to be bigger; and I should like the head to appear without any adjunct in the shape of a laurel wreath—just the plain head. I think that that would be even more beautiful than the present design.

I do not like to follow other countries just because they are different from us. We often make mistakes by doing that. There are many things in which we might well copy other countries, but I doubt whether this is one of them. I do not think that anybody has ever travelled to another country through being lured by an attractive postage stamp—certainly not after the design has been disfigured by the postmark. The suggestion is that postage stamps can allure the tourist. I hope that we shall always allure the tourist in the way we do at the present time. We are one of the few countries in the world that have the extraordinary happiness to be ruled by a Sovereign. If we were to take the highest common factor in the mind of every tourist to this country, it would he the hope that he or she would have the good fortune to see the Queen. I think, therefore, that in retaining our present, or some similar, design of stamp, we are doing the best we can to help the tourist industry. I should like to add one thing more. When I look back at the past, I find that one of the marks of an age of good taste is that it is ready to rest content with a really good design. I submit that we have here a really good design and that we ought to be willing to rest content with that which we have.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in an embarrassing position this afternoon, as a pure-blooded Englishman, facing the strong Scottish attack, as I must infer it to be, from the noble Lords who have spoken in favour of the Motion, although I am extremely glad to see that I have at least one ally from the same quarter. I had actually begun to think that it would have been a good thing if Hadrian's Wall had been kept in better repair; and when I see amongst the gathered clans a Knight of the Thistle, my feelings verge upon alarm: though I am happy to say that that alarm is not such as would detract in any way from the sincerity with which we on this side of the House offer our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Mathers.

I do not think that it would be right for me to make any comment on the points raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, in moving his Motion, without first expressing appreciation of his persistence on the subject. Indeed, this is the fourth time he has raised it in the last three years, and it might almost be thought that it was becoming a hardy perennial. I must express my appreciation particularly of the painstaking and constructive approach the noble Viscount has made on this occasion and of the great trouble he must have been to in order to produce the set of designs for stamps which are circulating amongst your Lordships. I think it would be wrong of me also if I did not say at this stage that my right honourable friend the Postmaster General has an interest in to-day's debate which is by no means unsympathetic, and that I myself am conscious that I am playing a rather dismal role in that it is my lot to have to draw your Lordships' attention to a number of difficulties which would arise if this type of stamp were adopted. I should like to make it clear, however, that, as I explain them one by one, I do not mean to suggest that the difficulties are necessarily insuperable by one means or another, but I think it is right that your Lordships should be aware of them in your consideration of the subject and I wish to show that there are two sides to every question.

I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, appreciates the position with regard to large stamps and the reasons on which objection to them is held. Therefore, I have based what I am about to say entirely on the small stamps mentioned in the terms of the Motion. I do not think that the noble Viscount would wish me to spend much time in referring to the previous occasions on which this matter has arisen. I think that it is more important that we should consider the question as it is to-day. And to-day has brought amongst us the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Exeter, to whom I should like to add my congratulations—although he will understand when I say that I do not agree with everything that he has said. I feel that his fluency and command will be a most useful factor in our debates, and we shall all look forward to hearing him again.

I should like to dispel one illusion right away. Some of the noble Lords who have spoken seem to think that my right honourable friend is fast asleep, or never goes to the Post Office. An impassioned plea has been put for commemorative stamps, which we have already. It has not escaped my right honourable friend that the dark brown colour of the 2d. stamp is not a good one for signing across at the bottom of receipts, and I think I can say that he has certain ideas about that matter. I do not know whether my right honourable friend has any views about the Scout Jamboree, but I think your Lordships will allow me to say at least that I should be extraordinarily surprised if he had not.

It may be convenient for your Lordships if I remind you of what is the existing policy on postage stamps, and give reasons to support it. In this way I shall also be able to make clear the difficulties that I have mentioned. The policy has been to have a basic issue of stamps lasting generally for a whole reign, the design consisting essentially of the Sovereign's head in a suitable framework; and this basic issue is supplemented from time to time by occasional special issues to mark events of outstanding national or international importance, which I think meets the point of the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter.

I readily admit that the use of the design based essentially on the Sovereign's head is entirely traditional, and has, in this country, remained that way ever since the first adhesive postage stamp in the world, the "Penny Black", which had as its main feature an effigy of Queen Victoria. I believe that such a tradition is a proud and valuable one, and is not, if I may borrow some words used on a previous occasion, lamentably conservative. I believe that the people of this country, by and large, would be sorry to see this tradition abandoned. In particular, I do not think that the public, as a whole, can feel very deeply in favour of the replacement of our present stamps by pictorial stamps, or any others, since, for what the information is worth, at headquarters we receive about three letters a year from private individuals on the subject—and, as a matter of interest, the last was in September, 1955.

There is, however, an even more important reason why we should not lightly abandon the use of the Sovereign's effigy on our stamps. Ours is the only postal administration in the world which does not show the name of the country of issue on its stamps—and that has already been mentioned, in a derogatory fashion. It is not a position which we can claim as of right, but is a tacit recognition of our special position in the world as the originators of the postage stamp, and also because our Sovereign's head is readily recognisable anywhere all over the world. I believe that this is an even prouder tradition still, and even less is it desirable to abandon it. After all, it does commemorate one point where this country—it may have been some time ago—has given a lead to the world. I feel I must say that if we abandoned this there would be the possibility that our unique position would be jeopardised, and the tacit recognition we get from other countries might no longer be granted. I cannot say that for certain, but on the type of stamp suggested the head would be of much more insignificant proportions, and we should therefore run the risk of possibly having to add further lettering still to these small stamps. There is also the problem of how one would find a complete short title to put on them which would cover England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man.


Would it be possible for the Postmaster General to consider favourably the issuing of stamps for Scotland, and England and Wales?


My Lords, I do not know.


Would that not be contrary to the Act of Union?


My Lords, I flatly refuse to get tied up. If noble Lords would be good enough to wait until I have finished, they will then realise that it is quite unnecessary for me to try and answer that kind of cuestion at such short notice.

May I now turn for a moment to a more practical point? I think to achieve the purpose advocated by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, it would be necessary to change the issue fairly frequently, and this would inevitably create some extra difficulties involving service at public counters. We must view with some misgiving anything that is likely to do that at the present time. The work at the Post Office counters has increased since before the war by nearly 70 per cent., which is a large figure, and the agency work which is undertaken—savings, pensions and that kind of thing—has increased to a point when it amounts to nearly half the work done at Post Office counters. In common with almost everybody else the Post Office are facing problems affecting their investment programme, and also difficulties in obtaining adequate staff. Therefore, noble Lords will appreciate that with these limitations even a small added factor which may tend to worsen the counter service is something that presents a real difficulty.

In support of the ideas behind the Motion, reference has been made to the opinion of those engaged in the stamp trade. I must digress for a moment, because I had proposed to use the word which is the adjective of philately—"philatelic." There are two schools of thought as to its pronunciation. I can get no guidance on the matter, and therefore I ask your Lordships' indulgence to use the pronunciations indiscriminately. I was saying that reference has been made to considerable support by philatelic opinion for the ideas behind the Motion of the noble Viscount. In fact, I can find little evidence of this. The International Philatelic Federation in 1952 passed a resolution advocating a radical reduction in special issues of postage stamps. I know that the stamps the noble Viscount is advocating could be said not to be special issues, but I think it is fair to say that if they are to be changed with relative frequency—that is, in the postal sense—that would be almost tantamount to special issues.

I feel that I must also, in all truth, make the point with some emphasis that, so far as Post Office headquarters are concerned, there has been no demand from philatelic dealers for pictorial stamps. I think, too, it might be important to stress to your Lordships the views held in philatelic circles, and, with your Lordships' permission, I will quote from a leading article which appeared in the magazine, Gibbons' Stamp Monthly for March 1, 1955. The article is headed, "Her Majesty Must Remain." It is written in direct reference to the Question which the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, asked in this House on February 9, 1955. It specifically says so in its opening paragraph, and mentions the noble Viscount's name. It goes on to say that it would have liked more definite assurance that the Queen's portrait is not going to be ousted from our stamps. It then goes on to say that examination of collectors' albums will show a very wide range of stamps issued by other countries for publicity purposes, and draws the conclusion from that that it is not possible to include within the compass of a small-sized stamp a portrait as well as a worthwhile pictorial subject.

The article finishes with the following words, which, with your Lordships' permission, I will read: Therefore, if we have pictorials—and they must be of the small standard size for current use—we must cut out the Queen. An idea which would have that consequence is unthinkable Some people do not seem to know our good fortune in having the best possible emblem to adorn our stamps. Let them ask their stamp-collecting friends to show them their albums and they will see the wretched alternatives acting as substitutes in countries that lack a universally respected Sovereign. Animals, flowers, buildings, landscapes, heraldic devices, industrial works, can all be quite attractive for a while, but once the floodgates have been opened to them there is no peace. New subjects keep clamouring for attention and the endless changing of designs goes on until meaningless profusion is reached, with confusion for public and Post Office alike. Let us be thankful we have a lovely and dignified Queen to grace our ordinary stamps and let us leave the pictures to the higher values which the Postmaster-General announced and special issues which have the necessary space.


Will the noble Lord allow me to say that the reflections raised by all that he has said seem to prove that we should not obliterate the stamps by a postmark.


Did I take the noble Lord aright in that he said we should not obliterate the stamps by a postmark?




That would be a most extraordinary thing. I do not believe the noble Lord can mean that seriously, because the Post Office would very soon "go broke."


I do not make it as a serious suggestion to be adopted. What I am saying is that everything the noble Lord has said is a plea in that direction—to preserve the stamp as it is published.


Quite frankly, I do not think that anything I said has anything to do with that at all. I merely tried to substantiate, with an extract from a stamp magazine in the name of Gibbons—which is not unknown in the philatelic world—what they thought about the question of replacing the Queen's head on our stamps with something else. That is all I said. It has nothing to do with postmarks whatsoever.


What I am saying is that to obliterate it by a postmark is tantamount to taking away the Queen's head.


I do not think your Lordships will wish me to continue this discussion much longer. We are talking of the design of stamps, and not about putting postmarks on top of them. Suppose I had got up and said that I was extremely pleased about the noble Viscount's stamps, and that we were going to have them to-morrow: they are going to have that postmark on them, too. This is merely an argument not to change the basic design of our stamps. I do not think the noble Lord will wish roe to take the matter any further. I do not think I can.

I am afraid that I have already inflicted upon your Lordships this rather long quotation, but I do not see how the matter could be better put. I also think that these words of Gibbons apply to the stamps which are suggested. If your Lordships will look again at the reproductions we have, I think you will agree that both the Queen's head and the picture are a little insignificant as such. I cannot really think that if these stamps were widely circulated throughout the world they could, in fact, awaken in the minds of prospective tourists the interest in our country which the noble Viscount believes they would do, which is a point the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, most ably pleaded was a desirable thing to do.


The British Travel and Holidays Association and the Scottish Tourist Board believe that they will.


I am coming to that point at any moment. First of all, I should like to deal with the point about revenue which is derived from philatelic sources. Undoubtedly there would be revenue, and it is perfectly true to say, particularly at the present time, that no source of revenue, however small or insignificant, can be ignored. But I do not want your Lordships to be under any illusion on the subject, and we must try to see this particular aspect in its proper proportion. The low-value special issue of Coronation stamps, which was a very popular issue, brought in an estimated sum of £300,000. At this stage, it really must be anybody's guess as to what would be the revenue accruing from philatelic sales of pictorial stamps I mention that estimated figure only as an indication to your Lordships of the kind of level we might expect. In fact, it might be said that this aspect of it is a bit of a gamble.

Turning rather more towards tourist publicity, I am not sure whether I understand the noble Viscount aright, but it seems, from the examples we have, that he would include in his series holiday resorts and similar places. I think many people will feel this to be wrong, and that if we had them at all the pictures should be confined strictly to buildings and places of national or historic importance, otherwise there might well be an unseemly scramble from every holiday resort in the country to try to get itself on the stamps. It might even go a bit further than that, and other industries which also earn substantial quantities of foreign currency might claim an equal right with the tourist trade to share in this medium of free publicity. I feel that, without some such limitation as that, we should soon have the confusion which was referred to in the article from which I have quoted. Of course, the noble Viscount's argument about collective ministerial responsibility might make that particular aspect even more difficult to resist.


May I say that these were just trial designs? They did not lay down any particular object. If the noble Lord will concede my point, then he and his council of art and everybody else could get dawn to the selection of the particular objects to be shown.


I appreciated that, and perhaps I owe the noble Viscount an apology for not having made that fact clear: that they were not intended to be actual stamps, but merely an indication of what would be done. I am merely trying to draw your Lordships' attention, as I have said, to difficulties which probably would arise in connection with the adoption of his proposals.

The noble Viscount is perfectly correct when he says that the British Travel and Holidays Association, and the Scottish Tourist Board, have made representations in support of these stamps. They did so in support of one of his previous Questions, and I presume that he would have known at the time that they were going to do so. They have not anywhere, that I can find, made representations at any other time, and I cannot find any record of similar requests having been made by other tourist board organisations.


May I make a comment in reply to that? They have both authorised me to say what I have said in this House: that they are strongly in favour of the Motion that I have put down. If they have not approached the Post Office direct, that may be an oversight. But I certainly have their authority to say—and the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, I am sure would back me up—that they are still strongly in favour of my Motion as I have submitted it to the House to-day.


I do not doubt for a moment that they are. All I tried to indicate was that their support for this Motion has been conveyed directly to the Post Office by those Associations on only the one occasion—that of the noble Viscount's Question earlier.


I have put it right, have I not?


Yes; I think the matter may be said to be right, but I do not call that a powerful demand. My right honourable friend is surely not able to learn their wishes if they do not bother to write to him or to approach the Post Office, the natural thing to do.

If I may now turn to the—I will not say stamps, but designs advanced by the noble Viscount, I must in all sincerity praise him again for his commendable and very ingenious efforts to prove his point in a practical fashion. He was good enough to give me a copy two days ago, but, of course, there has not been sufficient time for them to be expertly studied. Therefore, anything that I have to say about them, very briefly, must be regarded as a rather personal opinion. I cannot deny that the first impression gained on looking at them is a good one, and it is this which prompts my congratulations. I am not myself qualified to pass an opinion on their artistic merit, so I shall not attempt to do so. I have, however, been looking at them pretty regularly and solidly for the last two days, and I must say that my first good impression tends rather to resolve into an impression that justice is not really done, either to the picture or to the Sovereign, and that the whole effect is somewhat small and overcrowded. What we must also remember, although appreciating that the noble Viscount intends his designs to be only an indication, is that they will tend to look more impressive in black and white, as we have them, than they will in the colours in which the various denominations are issued.

The question of colour is not purely an artistic one, or it might be possible to solve that problem quite quickly and easily: it has a very real and important practical application. The distinctive colours, and also the five distinctive designs which are at present used in the low-value range, help to speed up the work at the counters and in the sorting offices. The staff are able to check quickly on sight. Thus, the stamps must be easily distinguishable. This is, of course, also of assistance to the public. I would stress that it is a combination of the colour and the design which enables this high-speed recognition, and this process would inevitably suffer if the staff had to try to remember that the 2½d. stamp, for instance, was recognisable by its view of the Highlands and not of Stratford. It may be said that the pictorial designs could be better produced in two colours. While, technically, it is not very difficult to do that, it does rather add to the overcrowded nature of the stamp, and is also open to a more practical objection in connection with the fast recognition in sorting offices and at the counters.

I have pointed out these difficulties about the noble Viscount's suggestions and those of other noble Lords, and I have done so on traditional, æsthetic, technical and practical grounds. I do not, however, want the noble Viscount and those who support him to think that I am here to put every possible obstacle in front of the Motion. I think that, when we are discussing a subject: such as this, it is necessary for me to point out as clearly as possible the difficulties which are likely to be encountered and which must be taken into consideration, just as much as the advantages which have been urged.

Before I sit down, I have one more thing to say to the noble Viscount. My right honourable friend the Postmaster General has been giving a good deal of thought to the whole question of stamp policy, and his mind is by no means closed to suggestions like those that have been put forward by all the noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, or to any other suggestions from any other source. As evidence of this, I can say that he is now engaged in exploring the possibility of the introduction of a pictorial stamp on the 6d. air letter form.


Of what size?


I am not aware at the moment of the size. I imagine that the size will rather depend on the possibilities that he is exploring. There seems to be some rumour that it is likely to be a double one. But what I am trying to make clear is that my right honourable friend has asked me to convey to him the points which have been put forward to-day by the noble Viscount and other noble Lords, and to these he will give his interested! consideration. I hope, therefore, that this will be sufficient for the noble Viscount and that he will not wish to press his Motion to-day.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, in the first place I am most grateful to all the noble Lords who have taken part to-day in this debate, and even to the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, who has not, I see, altered his views since he expressed them on March 9, 1954—and one would not expect him to—when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 186, col. 178] that he did not desire to see pictorial stamps of even the largest nature, having in mind the dignified forms which we have inherited' from our ancestors.


I beg the noble Viscount's pardon. I meant the forms of the stamps, not my own form.


I am grateful, too, to the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, for his reply to my request and that of noble Lords who have supported me, but. I am bound to say that it is a deeply disappointing reply. I had hoped, after these three years and the arguments put forward to-day, that this question of small, low-value pictorial stamps would have been seriously considered by the Post Office and the Postmaster General, but it appears that that has not been so; otherwise why should the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, have devoted—I make no complaint, about this, of course—so much time to the question of the Queen's head on these small stamps? May I make it quite clear that there has never been any suggestion at all on the part of anyone advocating these small pictorial stamps to abandon the Queen's head. Indeed, I did not think it was possible to do so, under some postal convention or something of that sort.

My Lords, I do not desire at this stage to answer the points which have been made by the noble Lord against my Motion. He tells us that the Postmaster General has an interest in it and is not unsympathetic, and he has told your Lordships that, the Postmaster General has been good enough to examine the question of the issue of stamps—I think he said pictorial stamps—of the value of 6d. But why go a; high as 6d.? The stamps that we want to circulate throughout the world, portraying the beauties of the countryside and the historic monuments of these Islands, are those of the 2½d. and 4d. issues. Why go as high as 6d.? Why not come further down? Perhaps the noble Lord will convey that view to the Postmaster General and ask him to experiment with stamps of a lower value.

I had hoped that in all this time the former Postmaster General—I agree that the present Postmaster General has not had sufficient time—and the Post Office would have made some experiments of the kind that some of us have been suggesting all these years. Evidently that has not been done. So far as I am concerned, the matter cannot remain in the state in which it is to-day, and I feel sure that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, will expect me to say that I will return to the subject at an early date, leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, it would be convenient now, I think, that the House should adjourn during pleasure until the Royal Commission at five-thirty.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.