§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, will he explain why the Post Office will not extend to newspapers the advantage of posting without stamps but by simple prepayment, such as may be done in the case of circulars or company prospectuses; what is the reason for this distinction; whether he endorses the official statement of the Postmaster and Surveyor at Glasgow in a letter to a newspaper proprietor, dated 6th May 1896, that the postage for newspapers cannot he prepaid in money; And whether any newspapers in England enjoy the privilege of postage on prepayment without adhesive stamps?
§ * MR. HANBURY
Prepayment of postage in money necessitates a very elaborate system of check. It is only possible even for circulars and prospectuses, when the packets are brought to the office of posting a considerable time in advance of the closing of the letter box. Each packet must represent a postage value of £1 at least, or 480 circulars or prospectuses. In London no such packets are accepted before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m., that being the least busy period of the day. News papers are posted by the newsagents at the very last moment in the evening or very early in the morning, and it is on this account impracticable to extend to newspapers the advantage of posting without stamps. In no case does the privilege extend to single circulars. I have not seen the official statement of the Postmaster and Surveyor of Glasgow referred to in the Question, but it appears to be correct. A special arrangement has for many years existed under which copies of The Times receive the impression of a paid stamp at The Times offices. I may further state that newspaper publishers and newsagents are allowed to send their stamped wrappers to the General Post Office to be obliterated beforehand, and that newspapers subsequently posted in such wrappers for the night mails are accepted 30 minutes later than the advertised time.