HC Deb 17 February 1915 vol 69 cc1112-4

asked the Postmaster-General the names of Irish-American newspapers and other periodical publications addressed and prepaid from the United States to the United Kingdom that are now being confiscated in the Post Office; and, seeing that the postage has been paid, will he arrange to have the wrappers delivered or the addressees informed in some way that their property has been duly posted and confiscated in the Post Office?


I have been asked to reply to this question. It would be against the public interest to give the names of the publications transmitted from addresses in the United States which are detained in the Post Office in obedience to the Lord Lieutenant's warrant, and my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General agrees that, in view of the hostile character of these publications, there is no occasion to inform the addressees of their detention.

30. Mr. G. TERRELL

asked the Postmaster-General whether the mail and telegraph service between London and Paris is now greatly delayed by the Censor; and whether, in view of the necessity of a prompt service for trade purposes, he can see his way to establish for important messages an accelerated delivery and, if necessary, a special fee?


It is the fact that the telegraph service between London and Paris has been subject to delay due partly to the censorship imposed by the British and military authorities. The postal service between London and Paris has not been delayed by censorship in this country. The Post Office has no information as regards what takes place abroad. Under present conditions it would be difficult to arrange for a special service such as the hon. Member contemplates.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that telegrams are taking twenty-four hours, and letters frequently three days?


I am perfectly well aware that telegrams are taking twenty-four hours.


And letters three days?


No; I am not.

31. Sir P. MAGNUS

asked the Postmaster-General if he can indicate the nature of the precautions taken to secure that such persons only whose antecedents and character are known and found to be satisfactory are employed as examiners of correspondence and entrusted with the responsible duty of opening and reading letters that pass through the Post Office; and whether he can state what inquiries were made before the appointment of M. Emile Jules Dupuis in the Postal Censor's Department for neutral countries' mails?

99. Mr. NIELD

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department by whom Emile Jules Dupuis, who was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour on 12th February, 1915, for communicating information to Ruby May Davis, and who was shown to have been previously convicted, in 1902, for forgery and fraud, was appointed to be an examiner of letters in the Postal Censor's Department of the Post Office; was he appointed an officer of the Post Office; by whom was he authorised to open letters sent for transmission through the post; was any express warrant in writing under the hand of a Secretary of State issued to him; and what steps, if any, were taken to ensure that the 200 other persons employed with him to open letters had not been previously convicted of crime?


Dupuis was duly appointed by the Army Council to act as Military Censor. The warrant under which the censorship of letters is carried out is not addressed to individual officers, but to the Postmaster-General, who is thereby authorised to submit certain letters for examination to the officer duly appointed. At the time of Dupuis' engagement it was necessary to secure with the least possible delay the services of a large number of persons capable of translating foreign languages. Each applicant was required to produce three references as to character, which have all been inquired into. Dupuis was removed from his appointment before the date of his offence, and was employed for less than a month. I may add that out of the staff originally or subsequently appointed only twelve persons have had to be dismissed for inefficiency or misconduct, and that every precaution is being taken to secure that only suitable appointments are made.


Is it not the fact that the Statute under which the Postmaster-General acts applies to only one communication, and does not warrant the opening generally of letters?


If the hon. Gentleman tells me that, of course I accept it, but the question is one of which I ought to have notice.


Were adequate inquiries made in respect to this person, Dupuis?


Yes, Sir; I believe so.