HC Deb 15 March 1895 vol 31 cc1147-8

I beg to ask the Postmaster General, whether it is proposed that the recently-published official vocabulary of telegraphic code words, prepared by the International Telegraph Office at Berne, shall be made obligatory for all code messages in Europe, and ultimately for extra European messages; and if so, at what date; whether he has received complaints from mercantile men respecting the limited extent and incorrectness of this vocabulary; whether it has hitherto been permissible to make up a code message of words from eight selected languages whether he is aware that many firms relying on this permission, have spent large sums in preparing private code extending to nearly 400,000 words whereas the official vocabulary only contains 256,740 words; and whether, in consideration of the immense preponderance of British trade, he will secure for British merchants a continuance of the privilege hitherto enjoyed of using their own vocabularies, provided the these contain only words taken from the eight authorised languages, and provided that such vocabularies be firs submitted to and approved by the Department, such privilege to apply to all messages transmitted between the various portions of the British Empire.


It was decided at the last International Telegraph Conference, held in Paris in 1890 that an official vocabulary should be compiled, and that the use of words taken from that vocabulary should be made obligatory for code telegrams in the European system, at the expiration of three years from the date of issue of the book; but the employment of the vocabulary outside this system was left optional. The three years will expire on the 31st December 1897. This country and its Colonies being parties to the International Telegraph Convention, and the adoption of an official vocabulary having been decided upon by the union, it would not, I fear, be possible for me to accede to the hon. Member's suggestion, that British merchants should be secured a continuance of the privileges hitherto enjoyed, of using their own vocabularies, provided that these contain only words taken from the eight authorised languages.