§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that on the 12th February last the Standard Bank of South Africa posted to a lady at a hotel in Southampton the sum of £20 in Bank of England notes and £1 12s. 6d. in cash, registering and insuring the letter for £30; that the letter was never delivered, and subsequent inquiries showed that, although a postman asserted that he delivered it to the hall porter at the hotel, the Post Office had no receipt for it; whether, in view of the inconvenience caused to the lady in consequence of the non-delivery of this letter, and the fact that eight weeks expired before the Post Office admitted liability, and then only agreed to pay the money on an undertaking that if the notes were ever returned to the bank the lady would refund the money to the Post Office, he will say if this is one of the conditions of insurance according to Post Office regulations; and if he will explain why they accept money for insurance at all.
(Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The facts as regards the loss of the registered letter are as stated by the hon. Member. There is, however, uncertainty as to whether the letter in question was lost while in the post, and the delay referred to was due to the inquiries necessitated by this uncertainty. In cases of this kind it is of course the practice to require the person to whom compensation is paid to give an undertaking to refund the amount if it eventually reaches his hands. The full value of the Bank of 1596 England notes and the cash enclosed in the letter (£21 12s. 6d.) was paid to the representative of the adressee on such an undertaking being given. The fee paid for registration entitles the sender to compensation in respect of the loss of a registered letter under certain conditions, one of which is that the Postmaster-General is satisfied that the loss occurred while the letter was in the custody of the Post Office.