It would be difficult to put a figure on the loss of revenue, but if the reason for such postings is to economise in postage my right hon. Friend has powers to refuse to deliver them. We keep constant watch on the position and will not hesitate to refuse to handle these postings if we feel such action is justified.
While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he would not agree that this practice not only causes a loss of revenue to the Post Office but also has an adverse effect on our balance of payments, and that at this time of economic crisis this practice by British-based companies is completely irresponsible? Could not my hon. Friend consider taking some further actions?
I agree with the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend. As I have indicated, we have powers which enable us to refuse to handle any material posted by these British firms abroad to addresses in this country if their intention is solely to save on postage, but in no case that we have taken up have we been satisfied that where postage was saved, that was the sole reason for posting abroad.
Would not the hon. Gentleman accept that if British-based companies are posting literature from abroad because the service is better or the cost is lower, the answer is not to introduce legislation to stop the practice, but to improve the service in this country?