HC Deb 18 February 1904 vol 130 cc249-50
MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the Post Office is being employed, even more largely than formerly, as a means of distributing gambling lottery circulars setting out advantages and offering inducements to purchase lottery tickets; and whether he is willing to issue instructions that all batches of sealed circulars coming from persons whose address in this country is not printed on the outside of the envelope, shall not be received for pre-payment of postage until precautions have been adopted, by opening some of them, to ascertain that they do not contain improper solicitations to gamble. And may I further ask whether in the event of his being unable to adopt the suggestion embodied in my Question, the noble Lord will consider the possibility of adopting other means.

THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Lord STANLEY,) Lancashire, Weshtoughton

I am unable to say whether the Post Office is more largely used than formerly for the purpose of distributing lottery circulars Many such circulars are doubtless posted in bulk at post offices in this country, but there is nothing on the covers to indicate their nature, and I have no power to open closed letters. I may point out, moreover, that even if the action suggested by the hon. Member could be taken it would not prevent lottery circulars from being sent through the post, seeing that the senders would no doubt cease to post the packets in bulk, and would simply affix stamps and post them in the ordinary way. With regard to the further Question of my hon. friend I have to say that if I could find any method by which I could stop these lottery and betting circulars, nothing would give me greater pleasure.