HC Deb 14 July 1887 vol 317 cc757-8
MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked the Postmaster General, Whether the senior counterman at Vere Street Post Office was recently deficient £390; whether such a large deficiency is consistent with proper monthly check by the postmaster; whether any, and what, legal proceedings have been taken against the defaulter; whether the defaulter's salary, £28, accruing since the discovery of his default, has been paid for a time when he was entirely absent from his duties; and, whether this is usual; whether the defaulter had been in the habit of making advances to the postmaster's chief clerk on undated cheques; whether it was part of that chief clerk's duty to occasionally audit the defaulter's accounts; whether, at the December official quarterly audit, the defaulter then, produced to the auditor an undated cheque as part of the vouchers for his cash; and, whether this was then reported to the Postmaster General; whether that chief clerk is still in the employ of the Post Office Department; and, whether the postmaster has since retired on a pension?

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. RAIKES) (Cambridge University)

In reply to the hon. Member, I have to say that a deficiency of the amount stated was recently discovered in the accounts of the countermen at Vere Street Post Office, and that the investigation which followed disclosed grave omissions, but no actual dishonesty, on the part of the chief clerk, whose duty it was to check the countermen's accounts. The chief clerk was found to have obtained on two occasions advances of salary against his undated cheques; but the cheques were never produced as vouchers when the accounts were audited. I was advised that the case did not admit of legal proceedings; and the payment of those officers who were eventually dismissed during the period for which it was necessary to keep them under suspension was in accordance with long established practice. The chief clerk is still in the Service, but has been degraded to a lower position and pay. The postmaster is responsible to me for the official cash, and he will have to make the deficiency good; but his fault is not, in my opinion, of a kind to invalidate his claim to the pension on which he is about to retire after a service of nearly 50 years.