§ COLONEL HUGHES-HALLETT (Rochester)
asked the Postmaster General, If it is true, as stated in the Press, that it has been customary, while the various South Kensington Exhibitions have been in existence, to allow free postage to the officials engaged in their management and direction; if so, to what amount and by whose authority; and, whether, with the exception of the 216 Indian and Colonial Exhibition, those Exhibitions were purely private enterprises, in the conduct of which all letters were as liable to postage tax as the letters of any of Her Majesty's subjects?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that Question, may I ask whether free postage is also allowed to the official begging letters of the Imperial Institute?
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)
I will ask the hon. Member to give Notice of the Question. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester, I have to state that it is the case that in certain instances the Treasury has granted to the Commissioners representing the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 free postage in respect of the correspondence connected with the business of certain Exhibitions to which my hon. Friend refers. In 1883 the Fisheries Exhibition was allowed free postage to the amount of £1,096. In 1884 the International Health Exhibition was allowed free postage to the amount of £3,870. In 1885 the Treasury refused to grant free postage to the Inventions Exhibition. In 1886 a limited concession was allowed to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition—namely, correspondence from the Exhibition only was permitted to go free. The estimated amount of this was £8,500. In the present year the inland correspondence for the International Exhibition at Adelaide is being permitted to go free. As regards the last part of the Question of my hon. Friend, I can only state that these cases have to be decided as they arise, and the decision rests with the Treasury.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
la the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case of the Dublin Exhibition of 1882 the Government refused to allow free postage; and will he include that in his list?
§ MR. RAIKES
I have already said that the Treasury, from time to time, has exercised its discretion in refusing, or granting, these appeals. In the case of the Inventions Exhibition in London, the Treasury refused to grant free postage; and I have no doubt the hon. and learned Member is correct in what he states as to the Dublin Exhibition.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Postmaster General will be able to say, with reference to the Dublin Exhibition of 1882, whether the promoters of that Exhibition did not decline the patronage of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Treasury, in granting this free postage, exercised their discretion under any statutory authority, or under a claim of inherent right?
§ MR. RAIKES
That is a Question that I cannot answer, and it must be directed to the First Lord of the Treasury.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I give Notice that I shall ask the First Lord of the Treasury that Question on a later day.
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
gave Notice that on the Estimates he would call attention to this scandal.