§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
I beg to ask the Postmaster General on what ground a private telegram was despatched at the public cost by the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department during the recent election at Hereford, to the hon. Member for Hereford, instead of at the cost of the person by whom it was sent; and what is the Rule governing the despatch by Ministers and others of official telegrams on private business?
§ *MR. A. MORLEY
The practice is for a responsible official to afterwards examine all telegrams sent us on the service of the Government; and if it appears that any of them are of a private nature, the senders are called upon to pay for them. I know nothing officially of 527 the telegram to which the hon. Member refers, but it will come under review at the proper time, and be dealt with in the manner I have described.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I sent the telegram in question on the evening of Saturday last. I sent it with the full knowledge of the strict review under which all messages sent on Government forms have to pass at the Post Office. The hon. Member seems to me somewhat ungrateful, because distinctly one of the reasons which operated in my mind in sending that message on a Government form was to insure that he should get it that night. The hour was late, and if I had sent it on an ordinary form the hon. Member would probably have received it only on Sunday; and, as everybody knows, he was very anxious to get my reply. Perhaps, as a balm to his lacerated feelings, I may inform him that, in consequence of not having been in the House of Commons on the day his telegram was sent, I had to pay to my right hon. Friend the Postmaster General on it the sum of about 2s.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
Arising out of that answer I may say I am very sorry the hon. Member was put to any expense. I shall be happy to repay him.