HC Deb 11 September 1893 vol 17 cc823-4

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he is aware that Mrs. Wotherspoon, a widow in poor circumstances, having sent a letter containing a postal order for 10s. to her daughter in Blackpool, the letter and the postal order were, while in charge of the Post Office, stolen by a caretaker at the Blackpool Post Office, in the employ of the Post Office; whether, while admitting these facts, the Secretary to the Post Office informed Mrs. Wotherspoon, on 23rd August last, that the Postmaster General was not liable to, and would not repay, the sum stolen by his subordinate; and whether it is a settled principle with the Post Office that it has no liability and no responsibility whatever for the theft by its own servants of letters or moneys while in its own charge?


I have made inquiry into the circumstances referred to in the question, which are substantially correct. The Post Office is by law exempt from liability for the theft of letters or their enclosures or of postal orders; and, as a general principle, compensation is not paid except in the case of registered letters. Mrs. Wotherspoon was duly informed that there was reason to believe that her postal order had fallen into the hands of a person who is now awaiting his trial on a charge of theft, and she was formally told of the legal exemption from liability of the Post Office. She has made no application for compensation, and it may be added that the question whether or not, as an act of grace, it will be possible to make good to her out of the taxpayers' pocket the loss which she has sustained will be a matter for consideration after the trial.


Am I to understand that this person's case will be considered? I am aware that by law the Post Office is not liable, but I hope that on application this woman's 10s. will be returned. Further, may I ask did the Post Office prosecute this man?


I think it was the Post Office Authorities who prosecuted. Any application sent in by the woman will be duly considered.