HC Deb 19 May 1892 vol 4 cc1297-8

I beg to ask the Postmaster General if he will take the opinion of the commercial community before he finally decides that postal orders shall not in future he paid even through a bank unless the name of the payee he first inserted in the body of the document"; is he aware of the great number of names that are incorrectly written in these postal orders; and how does he propose to get over this difficulty if he enforces this new regulation?


Persons purchasing postal orders are required under the Postal Order Act to insert in the body of the order the name of the payee before parting with the order. And as it has been found that stolen postal orders have been negotiated through bankers, it has become necessary to call the attention of purchasers of postal orders to the rule. It follows that the Post Office cannot pay postal orders presented by bankers unless the rule has been complied with. The rule that postal orders presented for payment by bankers need not be receipted by the payees has not been altered. The correct spelling of the name is not so important as the clue obtained. There is no such difficulty as that anticipated in the last paragraph; and no expression of feeling on the subject could warrant a continued neglect of a statutory requirement.


Will the new regulations stop these postal orders being passed from hand to hand?


Yes, the new regulations will prevent their being passed from hand to hand. And I am bound to point out that it was objected to the introduction of postal orders by the skilled officers that an increase in the number of stolen letters would be occasioned; but those who advocated the introduction urged that the insertion of the name of the payee, compelling the thief to commit an act of forgery in order to realise the value, would have a deterrent effect. The provision was much discussed in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) on 22nd July, 1880, said— There was one most important condition … with regard to the insertion of the name of the payee, and that insertion was most important in two points of view—first of all in providing a security against forgery, because as they knew very well from an enormous experience in the transmission of railway dividends, the forgery of signatures was generally regarded as a most serious matter indeed; and, second, as preventing the instrument from becoming an instrument of currency. The practice of sending orders in blank has become so common that a measure to enforce the Act of Parliament is regarded as a grievance; but the cases of forgery and fraudulent negotiation of postal orders have amounted in a single year to 2,326, in many of which not one but many orders have been stolen, and in that year thirty-six persons in the service were convicted of stealing or negotiating such orders, as well as several not in the service. The growth of such cases has been constant and enormous. Moreover, it is well known that in order to get at letters containing postal orders a large number of other letters are stolen and destroyed.

MR. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)

May I ask what will prevent postal orders being passed from hand to hand if the name is written in?


Well, Sir, postal orders are not to be negotiable, and as long as they are not drawn by the person whose name is inserted there must be a great risk of theft.