HC Deb 09 December 1890 vol 349 cc757-8
MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

I beg to ask the Postmaster General, with respect to the fact that the two officers who happened to deliver a Memorial addressed to the Treasury, and signed by upwards of 350 officers of the Savings Bank Department, have been transferred to other branches of the Post Office, it being alleged against them that they are responsible for the publication of the Memorial in the Evening News and Post, notwithstanding their emphatic denial of the charge, whether either the Postmaster General or the Controller of the Savings Bank has received a further request that the Memorial be withdrawn from further consideration; and whether, in view of the foregoing, and also of the increasing difficulties connected with the work of the Department, he will take steps to appoint a Committee of Inquiry into the grievances complained of by the officers concerned?


I beg to say, in answer to the first question of the hon. Member, that I have received a request from certain officers of the Savings Bank Department that the Memorial to which he refers may be withdrawn from further consideration. In reply to the second question, I beg leave to say that I see no necessity for the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. It is the fact that the two officers referred to, and to whom a confidential communication from myself to the memorialists was entrusted, have been transferred to other branches of the Post Office in consequence of these documents having been divulged. They were afforded an opportunity for explanation, but failed, in my judgment, to divest themselves of responsibility for this proceeding. Every officer in the Department is well aware that official communications between the Minister and the staff are strictly confidential; and it would, indeed, be impossible for departmental questions to be discussed freely between the Head of a Department and his officers if this honourable obligation is not recognised. I felt it necessary, therefore, to mark my disapprobation of what has occurred by transferring to other branches officers in whom I could no longer place confidence as intermediaries in any question affecting the Savings Bank.