HC Deb 06 August 1834 vol 25 cc1001-3
Mr. Robert Wallace

, in rising to present a Petition, availed himself of the opportunity to recall to the attention of the House the extraordinary circumstances which had occurred the day before, as to the delivery of letters beyond the number which Members were entitled to receive. It would be recollected he had stated his having received from Sir Francis Freeling a letter, stating distinctly, that it was contrary to law to deliver more than fifteen letters in one day, postage free, to any Member, and that there was no discretionary power vested in the Post-office authorities; this statement, it was attempted to insinuate, must have arisen out of some mistake, and could not be attributable to any intentional act of Sir Francis Freeling; but for this insinuation, and the levity with which the hon. member for Northampton seemed to treat the gross misconduct of the Post-office, he should not have thought of troubling the House with any such personal matter; but feeling it incumbent on him to remove every doubt as to the existence of the letter referred to, he had Seen it to be his duty to have it brought from amongst his papers, some of which had already been sent so far on their way to Scotland. Here was the original covered with mud and in tatters, from the effects of shipwreck last year; he would read it to the House. The hon. Member read as follows:— (Copy.) General Post-office, 16th April, 1833. Sir,—I considered it due to your application of the 28th ult. to submit the matter to his Grace the Postmaster-general, who has commanded me to inform you that, according to the legal construction of die Act of Parliament, a Member is not entitled to receive, on any one day, more than the limited number of letters. The law makes no allowance for the intervention of Sunday; and I regret, therefore, that this Department has no power to dispense with the postage charged upon the enclosed letters. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient humble servant, (Signed) F. FREELING, Secretary. Robert Wallace, Esq., M.P., 29, Spring Gardens. The House would see that the late Postmaster-general was implicated in this transaction as well as Sir Francis Freeling, and that both were equally to blame in regard to the transaction. Those Members who were not present the other day, would be astonished to hear that no less than three Members had avowed in their places their receiving, free of postage, as occasions occurred, considerably more than their privileged number, and this, too, by an arrangement with the writer of the letter just read, viz. Sir Francis Freeling. The hon. member for the University of Dublin had stated in his place his having received about fifteen letters above privilege, and free of postage, on Monday last, under the arrangement come to with Sir Francis Freeling, whilst that impartial and immaculate officer charged him (Mr. Wallace) for every letter above fifteen delivered to him since he had been in Parliament. Here was the exercise of uncontrolled power with a vengeance. The solicitor of the Scotch Post-office had complained of what he had said on a hoe occasion, when he, in his place in that House, at once admitted his regret for having said any thing which could offend or injure any one's private feelings or professional business. He understood the Post-office Solicitor to be a public servant employed to use the public money to defend the public from Post-office frauds, and he contended, this was a Post-office fraud committed either against him or against the revenue, by allowing one party to escape postage and to charge another with it; he, therefore, submitted that his Majesty's Government were bound to interfere and instruct the Solicitor to prosecute the late Postmaster General, and the Secretary to the Post-office for the gross partiality and flagrant injustice which had been committed against him in this matter. He had frequently complained of the unconstitutional powers delegated by patent to Postmasters General; and he would take leave of the subject he had now brought forward. One word on another subject—he had in his hand a letter from Liverpool, stating that the Post-office steamers were employed as common tug-boats, graced with the King's pennant, in honour of their competing with die mercantile capital and industry of that place. Many hon. Members might be ignorant of the injury and waste in tear and wear by using light steam vessels for tugging heavy loaded merchantmen. Many Members might also be ignorant of this being contrary to every principle on which King's ships had hitherto acted; and they might be no less ignorant of there being such a place as Holyhead, for the profitable repair of the injuries sustained by Post-office steam packets. He would here close the subject for the present, and leave the Post-office authorities on the exposure he had made.

Petition to lie on the Table.

Mr. Poulett Thomson moved the order of the day for the third reading of the Customs Bill.

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