HC Deb 17 February 1881 vol 258 cc1080-1

asked the Postmaster General, Whether he is aware that by the Act of 12th July l837, Clause 8, the Postmaster General is guilty of a misdemeanour, and, being convicted thereof, will be liable to fine and imprisonment, or both, if he opens or procures to be opened a post letter, or wilfully procures or suffers to be detained or delayed a post letter, except in cases of a letter wrongfully directed; or of a letter returned because the person to whom it is directed is dead or cannot be found; or of a letter which the person to whom it is addressed cither refuses to receive or to pay the postage thereon; or of a letter opened or detained in obedience to an express warrant in writing, under the hand in Great Britain of one of the principal Secretaries of State, and in Ireland under the hand and seal of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; whether, such being the Law, he will take care that no letter he opened or detained, in order to aid Law and civil order, except by the express warrant of a Secretary of State, or of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in regard to the said letter; and, whether, in the cases of letters which have been opened during his tenure of office, in order to aid Law and order, he has acted under an express warrant either of a Secretary of State or of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in regard to each letter? He wished, also, to ask the right hon. Gentleman a Question of which he had not given him Notice— whether he would consent to lay upon the Table any warrant or warrants under which letters wore detained within one month or two months? ["No, no!"]


Sir, I am acquainted with the provisions of the Act to which my hon. Friend refers, and I beg to assure him and the House that those provisions have been, and will continue to be, carefully observed. With regard to the Question of which he has not given me Notice, I have simply to reply, "No."