Postal Charges and Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Posts and Telecommunications – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th February 1972.

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Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark , Colne Valley 12:00 am, 9th February 1972

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what notice he has received from the Post Office Users National Council with reference to the Post Office proposals for the reorganisation of the distribution of Her Majesty's mail; and what action he is taking.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he is now in a position to make a statement in regard to Her Majesty's Government's policy in regard to post charges for printed publications, both home and overseas.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave on 27th January to my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills). There are no proposals to change the rates for publications sent overseas.—[Vol. 829, c. 520.]

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark , Colne Valley

I cannot quite follow the Minister's reply. Could he explain how he intends to recompense the Post Office for any lost revenue incurred by his acceptance of the recommendations of the users council? Should we expect further tariff increases to meet these financial losses?

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

I am having discussions with the Post Office in conjunction with the review which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is having with all nationalised industries in the light of the difficulties which some are facing during the period of price restraint.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

It is rather surprising that these two Questions should have been answered together. Is the Minister aware that printed publications are almost the only sector in which we have a price advantage over European countries? Would the Minister consider this and the agreeable effect it could have on the circulation of many excellent publications and journals?

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

Discussions are continuing between those interests and the Post Office. As the hon. Member will know, a number of the recommendations of the users council which were accepted by the Post Office and by the Government were designed to help these publications.

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

Does the right hon. Gentleman's last answer mean that we can expect proposals from him in the relatively near future on how the Government propose to deal with the present financial position facing the Post Office? If we can expect proposals in this respect, will the Minister note that we would prefer him for once to come and put these proposals before the House rather than doing it by way of Written Answer or in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce?

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

The hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that nothing I said to the American Chamber of Commerce yesterday contained news which ought to have been announced to the House. He also knows that it is not the practice to make oral statements in respect of every taraiff or price increase in the nationalised industries. But I shall continue as I have up to the present, to make statements in the House about all major matters affecting my Ministry.

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

On a point of order. The Minister obviously did not answer my question about what proposals he has.