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Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fourteenth Report


Memorandum by the Department of Social Security


  1. The Joint Committee has requested that the Department submits a memorandum on the following point -

  "Regulation 2, as regards the definition in the principal Regulations of `postcode district', refers to any such district `which is identified with an alpha suffix'. Explain where, that is in what document, such an identification is made, giving an example".

  2. Postcodes operate at four different levels -

      (a)   the first level is postcode area. These are shown by the first one or two letters of the postcode, e.g., B, WV;

      (b)   the next level is the postcode district. These are shown by the number or numbers in the first part of the postcode following the letter(s), e.g., B35, WV6. Due to the number of postal addresses in London, a London postal district may be identified with a further letter character suffix, e.g., SW1A;

      (c)   districts are then divided into sectors. These are shown by the number in the second part of the postcode, e.g., B35 7, WV6 1, SW1A 0;

      (d)   the last level shows where a group of houses or particular building is, and make up the entire postcode, e.g., B35 7RD, WV6 1ST SW1A 0AA.

  A structure of postcodes is provided in the Royal Mail Postcode Atlas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (published by Bartholemew) and by postcode maps (published by Datamaps).

  3. The postcode districts identified in Schedule 1 to the principal Regulations did not reflect the fact that certain London postal districts are identified with a further letter character suffix as mentioned in paragraph 2(b) above. It followed that these districts did not come within the definition of "postcode district" in regulation 1(2). Rather then listing all the relevant postcode districts in Schedule 1 to the principal Regulations and as the suffixes applying to those districts do not run sequentially (e.g., the postal districts in SW1 and SW1A, SW1E, SW1H, SW1P, SW1V, SW1W, SW1X, and SW1Y), the definition of "postal district" was amended so as to treat postcode districts identified with an alpha character suffix for the purpose of the principal Regulations as if they were identified without that suffix.

  4. The term "alpha suffix" is not a term of art but was thought to be a convenient way of describing the last character which is added to the description of certain postcode districts by the Post Office and which, by virtue of the amendment Regulations, is to be disregarded.

18th November 1997

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