HC Deb 22 February 1915 vol 70 cc9-11

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that in the office of the Censor of Mails there is employed a lady whose mother is a native of Austria and her father half English and half Austrian; whether he is aware that her brother is private secretary to an exalted personage in Germany and that he communicates with his sister expressing strong sympathies with Germany; whether it is known that the lady in question communicates regularly with her cousins, who hold high official positions in Germany, and that she spent five or six months in Austria in 1912, again in 1913, and, but for the breakdown with their car and the subsequent outbreak of war, she and her parents intended spending their usual period in Austria in 1914; whether these facts were known to the officer in charge before her engagement or whether he has become aware of them since; and whether, in the latter event, it is intended to retain this lady's services in the position of an examiner of the mails?


The lady in question is the daughter of an ex-M.P., who himself was the son of an Irish gentleman and an Austrian lady, and married another Austrian lady. Both ladies became in ordi- nary course British subjects on marriage. The brother in question was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and is now a captain in the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers Special Reserve. On the selection by the Powers of a Prince for Albania this gentleman was selected for employment as his private secretary. When the War broke out he was in Albania, and was unable to communicate either with his family or the War Office for some time. He appears to have left Albania for Italy with the King under a safe conduct given to him by the German Minister in Albania, and thence to have journeyed to Munich in the belief that his safe conduct would enable him finally to discharge his personal duties to his chief before returning to England. The German authorities appear to have arrested him on arrival at Munich and to have kept him imprisoned in Ruhleben and elsewhere. His brother is now serving with the 20th Deccan Horse in France. I have seen some of this officer's private correspondence to his family, and I find therein many expressions of his desire to return to his regiment and to his country. The lady has made known to me that she has written to a relation in Germany on domestic matters since the commencement of the War, and to inquire as to the whereabouts of certain captured British officers. In view of the facts which I have set out at some detail in justice to the parties concerned, I personally see no objection to the continued attendance of the lady in the Censor's office, but it is a matter for the War Office to decide.


asked whether separate departments have been established in the office of the Censor of Mails for dealing with such matters as commerce, contraband, and espionage; whether the official in charge of each such department is appointed by reason of special qualification to deal with these specific subjects or whether such officials are retired military officers without ordinary business experience?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

The censorship of mails is now divided into three branches, dealing respectively with trade correspondence, private correspondence and prisoners of war correspondence. The head of the trade, branch has been selected by reason of his special qualifications for dealing with commercial questions. The heads of the remaining two branches are retired military officers.


Is it not a fact that Colonel Rankin on 25th January admitted that—


The hon. Member must not ask a list of questions; he must bring any further questions up to the Table.