§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can give any information as to the decision of the Government relative to the recent raising of the commission on post office orders for all sums of £1 and under to three pence, a charge which presses very heavily on Friendly Societies of working men?
§ MR. G. H. MORRELL (Oxon, Woodstock)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that members of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, with headquarters in London, and half of its members resident in the country, using for greater security post office orders rather than postal orders in transmission of quarterly contributions and sick pay, and having by a rule of the Society all incidental expenses deducted out of the moneys due to each member, suffer serious loss in consequence of the new charge (1st February, 1897) of 3d. on all orders, however small, not exceeding £3, instead of the 2d. formerly charged on orders not exceeding 20s.; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made with a view to the consideration of some relief to the Friendly Societies generally in this respect?
§ MR. A. F. GODSON (Kidderminster)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether the Postmaster General has come to any determination on the question of reducing the charges on money orders under £1 to the old amount of 2d., and so meeting the wishes of the members of the Friendly Societies and others?
§ MR. HANBURY
It is no doubt the case that, owing to the fact of persons without banking accounts not being able to make use of crossed postal orders, the increased cost of money orders, which are regarded as safer than uncrossed postal orders for the transmission of small amounts, has caused inconvenience. The Government has decided to revert to the old rate of 2d. on money orders not exceeding £1, and this will be done without any condition as to the abolition of the advice note or otherwise.
§ MR. W. J. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether, under Sub-section (2) of Section 30 of the Friendly Societies Act, it, is compulsory to notify members by written or printed notice sent by post delivered at the last known address of members before non-forfeiture of their interests therein, and whether such notices are allowed to be sent through the post under the cover of a halfpenny stamp In wrapper; and whether, in the case of such notices not being delivered, they have from 1876 until recently been returned to the sender through the Dead Letter Department free of charge; why the charge of a half-penny is now demanded for the return of such notices sent under the above-mentioned section; and whether the Postmaster General will resort to the old practice, and not charge for the return of such notices?
§ MR. HANBURY
The Friendly Societies Act referred to seems to have been repealed, but the Collecting Societies and Industrial Assurance Companies Act, 1896, provides for the issue of notices such as the hon. Member describes. These notices are allowed to be sent by the halfpenny post. Prior to the 1st January, 1895, any which could not be delivered were returned to the senders free of charge, but since that date all undeliverable packets prepaid halfpenny only have been liable to a return postage of one halfpenny, and the Postmaster General regrets that he cannot see his way to make an exception in favour of Friendly Societies. It may be added that on the 1st January, 1895, the charge for redirection previously made on all halfpenny postal matter was abolished, and in connection with this change it was considered necessary to revise the practice in regard to the free return of such packets when undeliverable.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Department have yet come to any decision with regard to the proposed alteration in the manner of making the statutory declaration now necessary in the case of a lodge of any Friendly Society desiring an alteration or amendment of their rules?
§ MR. HANBURY
An additional Treasury Regulation is in preparation and will, I hope, shortly be issued, by which, as an alternative to the statutory declaration, a document will be provided giving formal information as to the amendments made in the society's rules, to be signed by two officers of the society. This it is hoped will meet the wishes of the Friendly Societies and remove the inconvenience that has been complained of.