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Helicopter Sales Demonstration (Mail)

Oral Answers to Questions — Post Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th July 1952.

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Photo of Sir Robert Perkins Sir Robert Perkins , Stroud 12:00 am, 30th July 1952

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General why, in view of Section 34 (2) (a) of the Post Office Act, 1908, as amended by the Post Office (Amendment) Act, 1935, an aeroplane company, of which he has been informed, which recently sent a helicopter on a sales demonstration tour conveying greetings from the Lord Mayor of Bristol to the Lord Mayors of the cities visited, in some cases landing in front of their respective town halls, have been informed that they have committed a breach of the Postmaster-General's monopoly for the conveyance of mail; and if he will take no further steps to interfere with such enterprises, in view of their publicity value.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

There was no wish on the part of the Post Office either to be officious or to detract from the publicity value of this goodwill enterprise, but strictly speaking a technical offence had been committed and in such cases it is customary for advice to be given in a friendly way to the promoters. There is of course no question of taking proceedings in this case.

Subsection (2, a) of Section 34 of the Post Office Act, 1908 only refers to letters sent by a private friend on his journey, and is not applicable to a case of this sort. Subsection (3) of that Section, as amended by the Post Office (Amendment) Act, 1935, expressly forbids the carrying of letters by pilots or passengers on board aircraft passing between, to, or from places within a British postal country.

The monopoly of carrying Her Majesty's mails, dates back some three hundred years, and I need not trouble the House either with its subsequent history or the reason for its maintenance.

Photo of Sir Robert Perkins Sir Robert Perkins , Stroud

If it is illegal for the Lord Mayor of Bristol to ask a personal friend to carry a personal letter to another Lord Mayor, is it not equally illegal for Mr. Speaker to send a personal letter by means of a Parliamentary delegation to the Speaker of another House of Commons?

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

If my hon. Friend reads subsection (3) of Section 34 he will find that it more accurately covers the case he has mentioned.