HC Deb 10 July 1903 vol 125 c1155

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been drawn to the complaint of the directors of the Empire Palace Theatre Company, Dublin, as to the loss or destruction of a negative of the speed trials held in connection with the Gordon-Bennett race which was handed in at the College Green Office, Dublin, for transmission to London; and, if so, will he state under what authority and circumstances was the letter packet opened subsequent to the removal of its outer covering in the post office, notwithstanding the precautionary open memorandum wrapped around the box containing the negatives inside the outer covering, and what compensation do the postal authorities intend to offer the Empire Palace Theatre Company, Dublin, for the loss sustained.


My attention has been called to the case referred to. I find that the packet in question reached the Returned Letter Office in London without the address label, and also without the outer wrapper which the sender states bore the address. I have been unable to ascertain how this outer wrapper became detached in transit; but the packet bears indications of having been very insecurely fastened. It was opened in ordinary course for the purpose of ascertaining the address of the sender, but I regret that the officer who dealt with it also opened the box containing the films without suspecting the nature of the contents. The packet was sent by letter post unregistered, and I am not therefore in a position to pay compensation for the damage.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire whether, when the packet was handed in, it did not bear instructions that it was not to be opened except in a dark room?


I have said so, but unfortunately the outer covering bearing that instruction became detached and the instruction was not on the parcel when it reached the hands of the officer who dealt with it. I have looked into the matter personally and seen the package.