Mr. R. Duckworth
asked the Postmaster-General how many air mails leave this country without specified times at which the public can post with the certainty of catching these air mails; and whether, owing to the uncertainty thus caused to business firms, he is aware of the greater use being made of foreign air mails which fly according to a fixed schedule?
§ Sir W. Womersley
The only air services in respect of which full information as to latest posting times is not at present published are those provided for the conveyance of first-class mail to Empire countries on the routes to East and South Africa and to India and Malaya respectively. I hope that, when adequate experience has been had of the incidence of this traffic in relation to the aircraft capacity available, I may be in a position to publish such information, and I have already done so in the case of one of the weekly services to South Africa. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative, and I would add that the approximate weekly weight of United Kingdom mail carried by Imperial Airways on these routes is 15 tons as against about 30 lbs. carried by foreign air lines.1300W
§ Mr. Leckie
asked the Postmaster-General what is the practice of the Post Office in connection with the surcharge on air-mail letters brought about by the ignorance of the public; whether letters liable to surcharge are held up at the London General Post Office and returned to senders or whether they are sent forward for the addressee to pay the surcharge; and further, will he give an approximate figure of the total surcharge made during the last 12 months and the proportion it bears to the properly stamped air-mail letters carried to the same destination?
§ Major Tryon
I assume that the hon. Member refers particularly to the services provided under the Empire Air Mail Scheme for the conveyance of all first class mail at the flat rate of postage of 1½d. per half ounce. Insufficiently prepaid letters addressed to countries abroad are, under international regulations, sent forward marked for collection from the addressee of a surcharge equal to double the deficiency. I regret I am not in a position to estimate the total amount of surcharges which have been collected on insufficiently prepaid letters posted in the United Kingdom since the Empire Scheme started, as these amounts are retained by the postal administrations of the countries of destination. I may add that, by agreement with the countries participating in the scheme, arrangements have been made to waive the collection of the surcharges due for short periods following the inception of each stage of the scheme.
§ Mr. Leckie
asked the Postmaster-General in view of the rapid extension of the air-mail services to the Dominions and Dependencies and the fact that many people are unaware that the charge is 1½d. per half-ounce only, and the inconveniences and delay caused by the consequent surcharge, he will consult various business bodies such as the Association of Chambers of Commerce before further extensions are made?
§ Major Tryon
I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to his question of 3rd February. I have been in the closest touch with the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and other business organisations since before the first stage of the Empire Air Mail Scheme was introduced, and I am much indebted to 1301W them for their valuable advice and assistance in facilitating the introduction of the scheme and in making known to their members the correct postage rate of 1½d. per half-ounce.