HC Deb 14 March 1918 vol 104 cc466-8
35. Major HUNT

asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether he will grant a Return of persons of enemy origin employed as postmasters or postmistresses in the United Kingdom; and (2) to whom is allocated the duty of watching people of enemy nationality employed in post offices in the United Kingdom?


My right hon. Friend does not consider that the issue of such a Return would serve any useful purpose, and he regrets he cannot see his way to furnish one. Careful inquiry has already been made in every case, and he is satisfied that the precautions taken are sufficient. Aliens employed in the Post Office are, like others, subject to the surveillance of the police, so far as their private conduct is concerned. As regards their official work, there are ample opportunities for observing their actions.


Are we to understand that there are so many persons of enemy origin in the Post Office that it is impossible to compile a list of them, and does the hon. Gentleman think it is desirable that people who handle letter-bags should be under the surveillance of the police?


The hon. Member is asking the same question again.


This is a very much more difficult question than the hon. Member thinks. My hon. and gallant Friend asked a question last week with regard to a sub-postmaster at Eaton Terrace. That man is the son of an English mother, who married a native of Lorraine before the German occupation in 1871. He was born in 1866. In 1871, with the rest of the population of Lorraine, he became technically a German. In 1874 he came to England with his mother, between forty and fifty years ago. He has a son serving in the British Navy on His Majesty's ship "Hercules."

Major HUNT

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there has been a great many complaints about these alien people in post offices? I have had a great many letters about it. And could not our police or detectives be better employed than in watching postmasters of alien origin?


Are there not many cases of undiluted Germans who are now sitting in security and in control of British post offices'?


My right hon. Friend is very careful with regard to this matter. If there is any particular case which my light hon. Friend would like to bring before the Post Office I will look into it.


Why is it at all necessary to employ people of enemy origin in the Post Office?


The statement which I have just made shows the difficulty of the question; but I am sure that my hon. Friend himself would never think of asking the man in the case I mentioned to resign his post,


I would think of asking any man of enemy origin to resign.