§ As a result of the reduction in the expenditure of £10,650,000, I estimate for a surplus on the commercial account of £9,320,000 for this year. How is that surplus to be allocated? In the first place, I do not propose to allocate the whole of that sum, but, out of that estimated surplus of £9,320,000, I am going to make proposals to the Committee for the allocation of £7,400,000 in a full year. I see it is stated outside that the decision of the Government, which was announced to the House of Commons by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which I shall complete, to make certain reductions in postal charges is the result of a compromise, and that the pledge that I gave to the Committee last year is not, in fact, being carried out. There is no compromise here. The proposals which my right hon. Friend made, and which I shall com- 1589 plete this afternoon, are the precise proposals which I put before the Government two months ago. They have not been varied in any respect. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have agreed to the proposals that I have made. They have been distinctly reasonable. They have given me everything for which I asked. Why do I not propose to allocate to the reduction of charges the whole of the commercial surplus? It is for this reason, and I think I shall be able to carry the assent of the Committee with me. It is possible to foretell Post Office expenditure with fairly close accuracy, and I have no doubt that the reduced Estimates which I have made will, in fact, prove to be near the actual figure so far as expenditure is concerned. But when we are dealing with revenue, the position is not so easy. There are a number of baffling factors which make it very difficult to foretell accurately what the Post Office revenue will be. It is peculiarly sensitive to industrial conditions, and industrial conditions in this country—and I might add international conditions—are not so secure that we can say with absolute definiteness that a certain revenue will be received. In the proposals that I am making I am estimating that as a result of the reduction in charges which I shall propose, there will be a substantial increase in the number of communications carried through the Post Office. I think I have made quite as substantial an allowance as I was entitled to make. On letters I have estimated for an increase of 10 per cent, in the numbers carried. That may not strike the Committee as a large estimate, but the 10 per cent, means 335,000,000, for the total number of letters carried by the Post Office last year was in the neighbourhood of 3,350,000,000. I think that 10 per cent. of that great total is as large an estimate as I am entitled to make. On postcards I estimate an increase of 20 per cent., which represents 100,000,000, and that printed papers will increase 20 per cent., or 250,000,000. It is possible that these estimates may not be realised. My own view is that they will be, but if not I still have a sufficient margin to enable me to make both ends meet without calling upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a subsidy.1590
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
Ten per cent, on the letters and 20 per cent, on the postcards and printed papers. In the one case the total is, as I have said, 3,350,000,000, while in the case of the postcards you are dealing with much smaller totals, and it will be difficult to estimate.