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practically disappeared and it has not reappeared under the 3 cents. That is in a measure the reason why our revenue increased when we placed a 2 cent rate on letters. However, I think it induces more correspondence. We discuss the 2 cent letter generally in connection with business. It is a good thing for business, of course, but to my mind it is a greater thing if it results in increased correspondence between the ordinary people on the farms and the men who are employees rather than employers; it is an incentive to better acquaintance, and does, I believe, conduce to increased business among different parts of the Empire as well as internal business.

Now we have discussed migration a good deal, but a letter from a contented settler in Canada, New Zealand or Australia, or any part of the Empire, sent home to friends here is the best advertisement that a Dominion can have, and the more we can encourage that kind of correspondence among the ordinary people, the better it is for the Empire and for the Dominions.

Mr. Bruce : Mr. President, the question of communications in this discussion, as I understand it, is limited to mails, cable and wireless.

The Chairman : Surely.
Present Position of Australian Mail Services.

Mr. Bruce : There is not a great deal that I wish to say in regard to any of these. Of course, Australia, being the farthest away of all the Dominions, attaches the greatest importance to improved methods of communication; and it is for us to see, either by ourselves or in co-operation with the British Government or other parts of the Empire, that all the time our communications are being improved and we are keeping closely in touch with the other Dominions and Great Britain herself. In regard to mails, I have not much to say at this stage. Of course, we are in the position now that we are not as well served as we were in pre-war days. But mails, as far as their frequency is concerned, at all events, depend to a great extent upon commercial shipping requirements; and while at the moment we are averaging something like three mails a month, including the P. & 0., the Orient, and the Commonwealth Line, we are by no means satisfied that that meets our circumstances or is all that we require. But we recognise that to a great extent, as far as the shipping side of it is concerned, more frequent mail services could only be established at a prohibitive cost unless there is the passenger traffic and the goods traffic which will make the placing of other vessels a commercial proposition. Future Prospects.

I understand that the companies in Australia at the moment have in mind certain expansions and developments which should result in their at least getting back to a weekly service in the not very distant future; so that as far as the frequency of our mails is concerned, we can only say at the moment that we do not think we are being adequately served, but we are very hopeful that we are getting back to a weekly mail and will have to be content with that for the time being.

The Time Factor.

With regard to the time taken, which is probably a more important factor, the position is not at all satisfactory. It is being considered, and considered at great length, and now we are knocking off a day or two days under different arrangements; but the sum total of it is that it takes twenty-nine days now—it used to take twentyeight days once upon a time—so we are not advancing in this direction quite as far as we are in other matters.

The Chairman : That leaves out of account the airship service.

Mr. Bruce : Yes; I am coming to that in a moment. This matter has been very exhaustively considered, and there is no doubt it will be dealt with when we are considering shipping, and we shall then have to consider the report of the Shipping Committee, the effect of steamers travelling at a faster rate, what its commercial results will be, and so on. I do not want to consider that now.

Need for Acceleration of Mail Services.

But there is one solution which would certainly help and would probably make more difference than anything else, and that is the airship mail service to Egypt. Of course, Australia is very anxious to see that brought about, and to see the shortening of the time which is taken for mails to travel from Australia to Britain. Quite apart from getting down to the minimum time, it is, of course, necessary, on a commercial basis, that we should continue to accelerate these mails to some extent, because the cargo vessel is every day travelling faster, and it puts commerce in a quite intolerable position if shipping documents cannot be got through as the cargoes come to hand.

With regard to mails, our position is quite clear, that we want increased and accelerated services, and we know roughly what are the practical possibilities.

Mr. Massey: Mr. President, I have listened with a certain amount of interest to the Postmaster-General, expecting him to tell me, as the representative of New Zealand, that great improvements have taken place in the postal service between England and New Zealand in recent years. He did not vouchsafe that information, and there was a very good reason why.

Sir Laming Worthington-Evans : I confined myself to the truth.

Need for Improved Postal Communication with New Zealand.

Mr. Massey: That is quite an honest admission and one which I appreciate. I was going to say that instead of the service being as good as the pre-war service, it is not as good as it was many years ago. I do not know who is to blame, but it is a fact all the same. I have been looking for improvements lately, and I hoped that the Postmaster-General would be able to tell me that he was going to assist us.

Before the war-twenty-five years ago—we used to have [10995]


an annual fight in the New Zealand Parliament over postal subsidies. I was only a private member, but I took a certain part in this, and I know that we used to get our letters regularly from New Zealand to Great Britain in 30 days. I do not say that that was so on every occasion, but it was usual—oftener under 30 days than over. I do not think we have got a mail through under 30 days for years past ; generally it takes 35 or 36 days, and sometimes over 40. It all depends how the letters are sent.

Three Main Mail Routes between Great Britain and New Zealand.

There are three main mail routes between New Zealand and Britain; one is through the Panamá Canal. I believe that will be the fastest of the three routes before long when an improved service is inaugurated, but it is certainly not yet, because the vessels trading through the Panamá Canal from New Zealand to England are mostly cargo vessels with passenger accommodationgood ships and comfortable ones to travel by—but the voyage usually takes 36 days, very seldom under 40. The other two routes are vià San Francisco and New York, and by way of Vancouver and one of the ports on the eastern side of Canada, either Halifax or Montreal.

I do not think there is much difference in the time occupied by either of these two routes, but I wanted to find out for myself what could be done with regard to this matter. That was one of the reasons for my coming on this occasion across the United States in coming to England. I came from New Zealand to London in twentyseven and a half days actual travelling time.

The Problem of the Time Factor.

Naturally it occurs to me that if it is possible to get passengers from New Zealand to England in twenty-seven and a half days, it should surely be possible to get mails across. There is the problem to be solved. We are paying subsidies—I am speaking of the New Zealand Government—to the Shipping Company for the steamers coming from Wellington to San Francisco and also from Auckland to Vancouver. I think the amout is about £25,000 in each case. The New Zealand people are grumbling, and the matter was recently brought up in the New Zealand Parliament when the postal estimates were before the House. I promised that I would look into it, and I thought this was a good opportunity for doing so. The vessels are being improved. There is a very fine steamer, likely to be the best in the Pacific when she is placed in the service, being built for the Sydney-Auckland-Vancouver route. Sydney will be the terminal port. She is to be fitted with new Diesel Engines, and is expected to steam 19 knots. There are, of course, faster vessels on the Atlantic, but in the Pacific an average speed of 19 knots is very good. The vessel I travelled in when I did the journey in twenty-seven and a half days was just an ordinary ship carrying both passengers and cargo. She was built originally to carry fruit from the West Indies to England, but the trade did not pay, and she was sold to the present Company, who have used her for several years. The best speed she could attain was 17 knots, and yet the whole journey here took only twenty-seven and a half days. Much faster steamers are wanted-of course, that is a big considerationperhaps a better time-table on the railways, and that may be difficult to manage.

I am not finding fault with the time taken in crossing the continent of America, but what is wanted is a more businesslike arrangement so that when the steamers come either to Canada or San Francisco no time is lost in getting the necessary train connections. On the night I arrived at San Francisco there was a train going to New York.

About 500 bags of mails were entrained. I stopped two and a half days in the States, and was able to make a long promised visit in Washington. I cannot vouch for this—and honestly I should like to think my information was not correct, but I was informed by people in London, whose correspondence came in the steamer in which I travelled to San Francisco and which was placed on board the train for New York that night, that the mail was not delivered until the day we arrived in London, though I remained two and a half days in the States, during which I was not travelling. Now there is something wrong there. not able to say what it is; I hope I shall be able to find out, but I do want the British Post Office to help us in these matters. Nowadays it is far too long to occupy thirty-five or forty days in carrying mails between New Zealand and England, and we ought to do a great deal better than that. What is wanted is speeding up, and, so far as we are concerned, we are quite ready to do our share at the other end if the British Post Office Authorities will help us at this end, and I hope they will.

I am

Appeal for restoration of Penny Post by Great Britain.

With regard to penny postage—I do not need to repeat what has been said before on this occasion—but New Zealand has led the

way. Many years ago the British Government led the way in connection with penny postage, and there was a loss. New Zealand followed up closely with regard to penny postage, and soon the revenue was increased. We were making a profit with penny postage, but when mention is made of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would lose £5,000,000 by adopting penny postage, what I think is forgotten is that there is bound to be a large increase in the number of letters carried and therefore a corresponding increase in the revenue. I am not able to say that the one will balance the other, because I think it is very doubtful that it will, and, as far as I am concerned, I am looking at it as Finance Minister, and I have to watch very carefully that my accounts balance at the end of the year. I quite expect to make a loss with penny postage for three or six months before we get back to a normal revenue. All the same, I think that the authorities here are taking a pessimistic view of what will happen by its adoption. I am simply expressing an opinion on a subject in which we are both interested. Here is an anomaly. [10995]

L 2

A letter is posted in New Zealand to Great Britain and the postage is 1d. The reply from Britain to New Zealand costs 1 d. I think it is an anomaly that ought to be put right, and I believe it will be perhaps before very long.

Mr. Massey to confer with G.P.O. regarding New Zealand Mail

Service. Sir Laming Worthington-Evans : May I say one word in answer to Mr. Massey. I do not want to debate your statement at all, but I am told that it is New Zealand herself who makes the arrangements in regard to the Pacific, the sailings in the Pacific.

Mr. Massey : Yes.

Sir Laming Worthington-Evans : It is in your contract, not in the British Post Office contract, but I would very much like to take the opportunity while you are over here of having a conference with you, because I entirely sympathise with your desire to shorten the time. If you can get a passenger across in twentyseven and a half days, why not get the mails across? I quite agree that that question has got to be answered, and I would very much like, if you yourself were going to go into it, or if you could depute somebody to go into it, that you should come to the Post Office and do us the honour of conferring down there about it. We ought to do something together to reduce the time.

Mr. Massey : Thank you very much; I shall be very glad. As a matter of fact if it were possible to get the mails through the Canal there is no reason why we should not have a weekly service, but the vessels through the Canal are slower than the others and I hesitated to suggest it. With the others we can have a fortnightly service with no trouble at all.

Sir Laming Worthington-Evans: We could go into all these points.

Mr. Massey: I should be very glad.

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Imperial Penny Post and possible Revenue Loss.

Colonel Guinness : There is just one point which Mr. Massey raised about the Imperial penny post. I am sure the Treasury will not forget the Imperial value of any such change, but Mr. Massey mentioned that it was possible that the increased revenue would very soon wipe out the anticipated loss. Well, I am informed that the increased cost of handling the greatly increased mails would be so great, especially for the internal post of which the volume is probably ten times greater than the external post, that it might well be that we should repeat the experience when the penny post was originally instituted when I understand it took twenty-five years to make up the loss in revenue. I can only say that I will see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is made aware of the opinions that have been expressed this afternoon and I am quite

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