HC Deb 02 July 1896 vol 42 cc536-7
MR. J. F. HOGAN (Tipperary, Mid)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that English newspapers containing comments or reports that are not palatable to the ruling Turkish authorities are rigorously suppressed and confiscated; whether he can confirm or contradict the statement that the British Postmaster in Constantinople, in accordance with an arrangement entered into some 15 years ago between the British and Turkish Governments, declines to deliver newspapers to which the latter Government objects; whether he can state the circumstances under which Her Majesty's Government consented to this censorship; and, whether any steps will be taken to relieve the representative of the British Post Office at Constantinople of such obligations?


It is the fact that the Porte from time to time represents to the British Ambassador at Constantinople that the Sultan objects to the circulation of such and such newspapers in the Ottoman Empire. The British Postmaster has no agreement or understanding with the Turkish Government; but, on receiving word from the Ambassador that a given paper is prohibited in the Turkish dominions, he refrains from allowing it to enter through the British Post Office. The sovereign right of any Government to object to the circulation of newspapers which it considers objectionable cannot be properly alienated by setting up a foreign agency within its dominions to circulate such papers against its will; and it seems only natural that if the Porte tolerates the existence of foreign post offices within the Ottoman Empire, they in their turn should abide by the laws relating to printed matter. There appear to be only two courses; either on the one hand the withdrawal of the British Post Office, and the consequent loss of a privilege to the British residents at Constantinople, or, on the other, the observance by the British Postmaster of the laws of the country in which he is allowed to work, even when those laws are less convenient to British residents than British laws would be.

Mr. W. WOODALL (Hanley)

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that prohibited newspapers confiscated in the British Post Office were allowed to go through if sent to French or German offices?

MR. T. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)

asked if the rule or regulation of the British Post Office officials applied to British subjects residing in Turkey?


replied that it applied to newspapers to whoever they were directed. The answer to the hon. Member for Hanley was that what he bad said only applied to the British Post Office. He had no information on the other matters to which he alluded.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire?