Stamps (Commemorative Issues)

Oral Answers to Questions — Post Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr John Parker Mr John Parker , Dagenham 12:00 am, 18th December 1957

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will issue a commemorative issue of postage stamps for the bi-centenary of the birth of Robert Burns on 25th January, 1959; and if he will take similar opportunities of making known to the British public their creative artists and inventors.

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

No, Sir. The hon. Member's suggestion would mean a fundamental departure from the traditional stamp policy of this country, which I am not prepared to adopt.

Photo of Mr John Parker Mr John Parker , Dagenham

Is it not about time that we changed this Victorian tradition, and adopted some of the more interesting designs used in other parts of the Commonwealth, or in countries like France?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

Requests for stamps for individuals have been resisted in the past on two grounds; first of all, that it would be unseemly to couple the portrait of an individual with that of a reigning Monarch, and secondly, that the number of people with claims to be remembered in this country is so great that it would be very invidious to choose between them.

Photo of Sir Richard Pilkington Sir Richard Pilkington , Poole

Are there not any better English poets?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

There are many schools of thought that would give different answers to that question.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

How does the Postmaster-General know that the Monarch would think it unseemly to be associated with the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns? Does he know anything of the work of Robert Burns—its art, its elegance and its beauty—and does not he think that outstanding personalities of this kind ought to be commemorated in some way, and that this is a very desirable form?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

What I have said in no way denigrates the poetry of Robert Burns, some of which I have read, and some of which I have tried to read but, I regret to say, have not been so successful, because I am not able to understand the niceties as hon. Members from Scotland can. But the main thing is that there are so many poets—Wordsworth, Shelley, Shakespeare, Keats for example—that it would be invidious for the Post Office to have to choose between their merits.