asked the Postmaster-General to what extent there has been, since September, 1939, a progressive increase in the weight and number of parcels sent to South Africa; whether these parcels require any South African essentiality import permits, such as apply to freight cargo; and whether shipments of freight cargo have been materially reduced as a result of any large increase in the shipment of post parcels?
The number of postal parcels despatched to South Africa in the three months ending March, 1939, was 87,126 and for the same period in 1942, 123,545. I have not exact particulars of weights but the shipping space occupied was, respectively, 95 and 240 tons per week. This traffic has recently increased materially and the shipping space now required is of the order of 600 tons per week. I am given to understand that no import permits are necessary for the importation into the Union of South Africa of goods from the United Kingdom whether sent by parcel post or as cargo. I am informed that the increase in the parcel post traffic does in present circumstances result in the exclusion of other cargo, and the whole position is being examined in concert with the Board of Trade and the Ministry of War Transport.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is developing into a ramp, and that large numbers of people are exporting goods to South Africa through the Post Office? Is he aware that recently on one ship there were 10,000 tons of cargo taken on by parcel post from his Department and that one firm alone sent 4,000 parcels by parcel post, thus holding up other people who had to get export permits?