Post Office Act 1953

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1953 c. 36


Post Office Act , 1953

(1 & 2 Eliz. 2) CHAPTER 36

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to the Post Office with corrections and improvements made under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949.

[31st July 1953]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Postmaster-General and officers

Postmaster-General and officers

S-1 Appointment of Postmaster-General.

1 Appointment of Postmaster-General.

(1) Any person from time to time appointed in that behalf by Her Majesty by letters patent shall be the master of the Post Office by the style of Her Majesty's Postmaster-General.

(2) Upon and by virtue of the appointment of any person to be Her Majesty's Postmaster-General, the benefit of all contracts, bonds, securities and things in action vested in his predecessor at the time of the predecessor ceasing to hold office shall be transferred to and vested in, and enure for the benefit of, the person so appointed, in the same manner as if he had been contracted with instead of his predecessor and as if his name had been inserted in all such contracts, bonds and securities instead of the name of his predecessor.

S-2 General powers of Postmaster-General.

2 General powers of Postmaster-General.

2. The Postmaster-General may appoint for the purposes of the Post Office such officers, deputies, agents and servants as seem to him necessary and, subject to the provisions of this Act, may establish such posts and post offices as he thinks expedient, and collect, receive, forward, convey and deliver in such manner as he thinks expedient all postal packets transmitted within or to or from the British postal area or a British postal agency.

Postmaster-General's privilege

Postmaster-General's privilege

S-3 Exclusive privilege of Postmaster-General.

3 Exclusive privilege of Postmaster-General.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Postmaster-General shall within the British postal area have the exclusive privilege of conveying from one place to another, and of performing all the incidental services of receiving, collecting, despatching and delivering, all letters:

Provided that, subject to compliance with such terms, conditions and restrictions as the Postmaster-General thinks fit and to the concurrence of the Treasury, the Postmaster-General may either generally or in the case of any particular person authorise—

(a ) letters to be sent, conveyed and delivered otherwise than by post;

(b ) the collection of letters otherwise than by an officer of the Post Office, whether to be despatched by post or otherwise.

(2) Nothing in the foregoing subsection shall make unlawful—

(a ) the conveyance and delivery of a letter personally by the sender thereof;

(b ) the sending, conveyance and delivery of a letter by means of a private friend who himself delivers that letter to the addressee;

(c ) the sending, conveyance and delivery of a letter concerning the private affairs of the sender or addressee thereof by means of a messenger sent for the purpose by the sender of the letter;

(d ) the sending, conveyance and delivery otherwise than by post of any document issuing out of a court of justice or of any return or answers thereto;

(e ) the sending and conveyance of letters from merchants who are the owners of a merchant ship or commercial aircraft, or of goods carried in such a ship or aircraft, by means of that ship or aircraft and the delivery thereof to the addressee by any person employed for the purpose by those merchants, so, however, that no payment or reward, profit or advantage whatsoever is given or received for the conveyance or delivery of the letters;

(f ) the sending, conveyance and delivery of letters by land by means of a common carrier, being letters concerning and for delivery with goods carried by him, so, however, that no payment or reward, profit or advantage whatsoever is given or received for the conveyance or delivery of those letters:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall authorise any person to make a collection of letters for the purpose of their being sent or conveyed in any manner authorised by this subsection.

(3) Notwithstanding anything in the last foregoing subsection, the following persons are expressly forbidden to carry a letter or to receive, collect or deliver a letter, even if they receive no payment or reward for doing so, that is to say—

(a ) except for such letters as are mentioned in paragraph (e ) of the last foregoing subsection, owners of, or any person on board, any ship or aircraft on a voyage or flight between, to or from places in the British postal area;

(b ) except for such letters as are mentioned in paragraph (f ) of the last foregoing subsection, common carriers by land or their servants or agents;

(c ) save as provided in section forty-four of this Act or in section two of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act (Northern Ireland), 1930 (which relates to the conveyance of mails by public service vehicles in Northern Ireland), owners, drivers or conductors of public service vehicles:

Provided that this subsection shall not make unlawful the receipt, carriage or delivery of letters between places in the British postal area by any person which would otherwise be lawful by virtue of paragraph (a ) or, if that person is a passenger, paragraph (b ) or (c ) of the last foregoing subsection.

(4) For the purposes of this section, the expression ‘letter’ includes a packet, so, however, as not to include a newspaper or a parcel unless a communication not forming part of a newspaper is contained therein.

S-4 Infringement of Postmaster-General's privilege.

4 Infringement of Postmaster-General's privilege.

(1) Without prejudice to subsection (3) of this section, if, save as permitted by or under this Act, any person does any of the following things, that is to say—

(a ) sends or causes to be sent, or tenders or delivers in order to be sent, or conveys, or performs any service incidental to conveying, otherwise than by post, any postal packets within the exclusive privilege of the Postmaster-General; or

(b ) makes a collection of any such postal packets for the purpose of conveying or despatching them either by post or otherwise,

he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds for every packet, whether the packet is sent or is intended to be sent singly or together with some other packet or thing, and if he is in the practice of doing any of the said things to an additional fine not exceeding one hundred pounds for every week during which the practice has continued.

(2) In any proceedings for the recovery of a fine under this section, it shall lie upon the person proceeded against to prove that the act in respect of which the fine is alleged to have been incurred was done lawfully.

(3) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, compliance with the last foregoing section shall be enforceable by civil proceedings by the Crown for an injunction or for any other appropriate relief.

In the application of this subsection to Scotland, for the reference to an injunction there shall be substituted a reference to an interdict.

General provisions as to transmission of postal packets

General provisions as to transmission of postal packets

S-5 Postage to be charged on postal packets.

5 Postage to be charged on postal packets.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this and any other Act, there shall be charged by the Postmaster-General for the use of Her Majesty in respect of postal packets which are conveyed or delivered for conveyance by post under the authority of the Postmaster-General such postage and other sums as the Treasury may by warrant provide:

Provided that—

(a ) petitions and addresses forwarded to Her Majesty by post shall be exempt from postage;

(b ) petitions and addresses to Her Majesty, and petitions addressed to either House of Parliament, sent by post to a member of either House of Parliament shall be exempt from postage if the petitions or addresses do not exceed thirty-two ounces in weight and are sent without covers or in covers open at the sides.

In the application of this subsection to Northern Ireland, the expression ‘Parliament’ includes the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

(2) A warrant under this section may—

(a ) fix or provide for the determination of the rates of postage and the other sums, if any, to be charged in respect of postal packets and postal facilities under this Act;

(b ) make provision as to the scale of weights and the circumstances according to which those rates and sums are to be charged;

(c ) confer upon the Postmaster-General power, with or without the consent of the Treasury, to remit in whole or in part any postage or other sums chargeable in such cases or classes of cases as he may determine:

Provided that the inland letter rate shall not be less than one penny.

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