HC Deb 03 March 1898 vol 54 c466

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether it is by the advice and with the sanction of the Home Government that the Post Office Bill has been introduced into the Legislative Council of India; whether, under the provisions of this Bill, any postal officer can stop in transit, and ultimately destroy, any letter, newspaper, packet, parcel, etc., which he suspects to contain anything which in his opinion is defamatory or seditious; and on what grounds has this Bill been introduced?


The Post Office Bill, which is a consolidating and amending Bill, was not submitted to me before its introduction, but in the ordinary course a copy was sent home shortly afterwards, and was received by me in November last. So far as defamatory and seditious matter is concerned, the powers referred to can only be exercised in respect of postal articles which have on them or on their covers, words or marks of a seditious, defamatory, or grossly offensive character. There is no power to act on suspicion in such cases. The object of the Bill generally is to consolidate the laws relating to the Post Office, to supply omissions and defects in it, and to adapt it to modern requirements.


That is not the answer. Is not this the clause—"Communications"—


Order, order! The hon. Member is now proceeding to read some extract. He is not entitled to do that.


No, Sir; but the answer given me by the noble Lord is not the one suggested to my mind by the section I have here.