HC Deb 20 May 1901 vol 94 cc597-8

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been directed to an order issued to the telegraph staff, stating that errors in certain words will be punished by the receiving telegraphist performing extra duty without pay; whether any steps are to be taken with a view to discover whether it may be the forwarding operator who is at fault; whether the Postmaster General, with a view to secure efficient working of the telegraphs, will direct that in future no learners, paid or unpaid, shall be employed in the transmission of the public work, the more so that by the new order referred to loss might be caused to the efficient staff; and whether it has been duly considered whether the infliction of extra duty without pay is equivalent to a fine, and may be illegal, unless consented to by the staff on entering the Post Office service, or entering on the duties of a telegraphist.


The Postmaster General presumes that the order to which the hon. Member refers is one recently issued by the Controller of the Central Telegraph Office respecting certain errors which have been of frequent occurrence. Due enquiry is; always made in such cases with a view to fixing the responsibility for the errors upon the proper officer. The rule of the telegraph department is that no learner is to be employed in the transmission of public telegrams unless capable of passing a satisfactory test. The answer to the latter part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The Postmaster General sees no reason for varying the practice referred to.