HC Deb 12 January 1916 vol 77 cc1594-5

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, in view of the impartiality claimed for the censorship, if he will say in what parts of Great Britain letters are opened and delayed as they are now in some parts of Ireland; will he explain the reason why a letter, the cover of which has been sent to him, duly stamped and posted at Ballymacoda on the 29th December last, was opened by the Censor and not delivered in the neighbouring town of Cahirciveen until the 4th January; what particular conduct of the writer or of the addressee furnished a pretext for this treatment; what illegality it was found to contain, if any; in what office it was examined; and why it was delayed six days?


I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Kilkenny on the 10th January. When a censorship is imposed in a district all letters would, as far as possible, be opened irrespectively of the conduct of the writers or addressees, merely because they are posted in the area to which the censorship applies.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question on the Paper, namely, in what other parts of the United Kingdom besides Ireland this rule is in operation; what illegality, if any, was found in the letter; where it was examined, and why it was delayed?


The answer to the first of the hon. Member's multifarious supplementary questions is that in various parts of England the censorship is enforced because there is reason to suppose material damaging to this country and helpful to the enemy may get into the enemy's hands. It does not necessarily follow, as I am sure the House realises, that in every case where letters are opened we are so fortunate, or unfortunate, as to find that information.