§ Major Morris
asked the Postmaster General whether he is aware that letters and newspapers despatched by sea mail to India are arriving more quickly than air mail letters; and as this is not conducive to improving the morale of the troops, and in most cases the cost of airborne mail is a considerable hardship for a soldier's family, will he cause an investigation to be made to remedy this state of affairs?
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
The time of transmission of letters and newspapers sent by surface route to India varies between somewhat wide limits as the ships conveying the mails are liable for security reasons to be detained or diverted en route; but the average transit time from port to port is at present about 10 weeks. Owing to the limited amount of aircraft accommodation available for mail transport between this country and Africa, ordinary air mail letters for India, as for the Middle East, have to be conveyed by sea over that portion of the route; and the time of transmission, which is subject to variations due to sea transport conditions to which I have referred and to occasional delays due to congestion of urgent priority traffic on the onward air services, is on an average about 7½ weeks. A reduction in the admittedly high air postage on this relatively heavy type of correspondence would increase the weight of the mails, and, consequently the difficulty in arranging for their conveyance by air over the latter part of their journey. I share to the full my hon. and gallant Friend's opinion as to the importance of providing a cheap and speedy means of communicating with the Forces and I have been able with the co-operation of the other Departments concerned to provide an airgraph service to the Forces in India at a cost of only 3d., and, more recently, to introduce the light-weight air letter service for which the charge is 6d. Airgraphs, because of the lightness of the films, are invariably, and air letters are normally carried all the way by air; and66W these two services thus provide a much cheaper and speedier form of communication than the ordinary air mail letter.