asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the surcharged stamps issued by the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State were first submitted to the bureau of the International Postal Union at Berne, Switzerland; whether the script and character of the surcharge or inscription is in accordance with the regulations of the International Postal Union; whether Continental countries have agreed to recognise these surcharged provisional stamps in prepayment of postage; and whether these stamps can be used for the postage of letters from England to Ireland?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. The international regulations do not require that the designs or overprints of postage stamps should be submitted to the International Postal Bureau at Berne; but the rule that specimens of new issues should be sent to Berne for distribution to other postal administrations has been complied with. The Convention of the Universal Postal Union prescribes that prepayment of postage on every description of article transmissible by post can be effected by means of postage stamps valid in the country of origin. In these circumstances there would be no ground for objection on the part of other postal administrations. The stamps in question are intended for use in Southern Ireland; but, as the Post Office revenue in Southern Ireland is still part of the general revenue of the Post Office, no instructions have been issued that these stamps should be surcharged when used on correspondence posted outside Southern Ireland.