HC Deb 23 November 1914 vol 68 cc768-70
35 and 36. Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS

asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether two of the four codes recently sanctioned under the censorship are American; whether one of them is duplicated in the German language and has a large circulation in Germany; and whether he will consider the desirability of discontinuing the use of a code of this character, seeing that there are recognised English codes equal or superior in value to those permitted; and (2) why, in selecting codes to be permitted under the censorship, he adopted codes prepared prior to 1903 which involved a greater cost of from 25 per cent. to 40 per cent. in telegraphing to merchants and others above those codes prepared since 1903, under the provisions of the International Code Convention of that date, and of the technical or commercial advice he or the War Office took in the matter?

Captain NORTON

Two of the authorised codes are American. Editions are also published in French and Spanish, and one of them is duplicated in the German language. These codes are understood to be largely used in the United States and other neutral countries with which British traders, in whose interests they are authorised, desire to communicate. Another of the authorised codes contains artifical groups of letters formed in accordance with the International Regulations of 1903, and I understand that this code is being used to a considerable extent. As mentioned in the reply to a similar question which the hon. Member asked on the 16th instant, the selection of the codes to be authorised was made on the advice of the Board of Trade. The question whether any other codes can be admitted is under consideration.


Has the hon. Member received deputations from the London, Manchester, and other Chambers of Commerce in reference to this matter?

Captain NORTON

I have no knowledge of that.


Has the hon. Gentleman considered the fact that the meaning of a code-word can be entirely changed by merely altering the position of the code-word?

Captain NORTON

The whole question has been thoroughly gone into by my right hon. Friend.

37. Mr. HUNT

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that offers have been made by British companies trading in the United Kingdom with our Oversea Dominions to pay the whole cost of having their private codes supervised by a Government Censor, and that these offers have been declined, he can say why it is that the Government allows codes such as Lieberts, more foreign than British, to be used by the public?

Captain NORTON

As regards private codes, I fear I can add nothing to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to a question asked on the 16th instant by the hon. Member for the Brentford Division, namely, that the question of admitting private codes was carefully considered by the military authorities, who are primarily responsible for the censorship on telegrams, but that they are strongly opposed to the adoption of such codes. I do not think that the fact that a particular code is not British is a sufficient reason against its adoption, provided it is largely used in the neutral countries with which the British commercial community have dealings.


If the Government find it necessary to prevent British companies from using a code under the supervision of a Government official at no expense to the Government, is it not time they stopped all telegrams or cablegrams from going out of the country?

Captain NORTON

That is a representation which the hon. Gentleman must make to the military authorities.