HC Deb 04 April 1892 vol 3 cc557-8
MR. COX (Clare, E.)

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he is aware that several Post Office orders, amounting in all to £85, were issued in London in the year 1886 in favour of a Mr. W. J. Paine, on Auckland Post Office, New Zealand; that inquiry was made there by Mr. Alexander Cairns, to whom the orders were handed by the payee, to know if he would be safe in cashing same, and he was informed that they were "as safe as the Bank of England," but could not be cashed by him (the postmaster) before receipt of the advice note; and that in the meantime the hinds deposited in the London Post Office were withdrawn by the depositor; whether he is aware that Mr. Cairns lost the money which he had advanced on the faith of the Post Office orders issued here; and whether it is the practice to refund to the depositor on application, and without production of the Post Office order issued, the money so deposited?


The case referred to in the question is well-known to the Post Office, a question on it having been answered by my predecessor in 1890. The facts are these: A young man had been sent abroad by his relations with £100 in £5 money orders, most of which, however, for reasons of their own, the relations took the precaution of stopping. On his arrival at Auckland the young man had information that all the orders but one were stopped and repaid to the remitter, and that he would receive remittances for subsistence. He went to Mr. Cairns's Hotel and lived luxuriously, giving 17 stopped money orders to Mr. Cairns, who does not seem to have been very careful in the matter, or he would have tested the validity of the orders before much harm was done. The official papers do not indicate that Mr. Cairns was told at Auckland the orders were "as safe as the Bank of England;" and, as a matter of fact, a money order is not a negotiable security, the remitters in all cases having legal power to control the funds until such time as the orders are paid. It is not known that Mr. Cairns cashed any of the orders, or whether he eventually recovered any advance he may have made, or the cost of the young man's maintenance. It is not customary to repay to a remitter without production of the orders, because such production is usually the best proof of the right to repayment. But in the case in point, the remitter was well-known at the Money Order Office to have deposited the funds, and the stopped money orders were not required in proof.