HC Deb 06 March 1919 vol 113 cc606-7

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the serious delays taking place in personal and business correspondence between this country and America, owing to the action of the censorship; whether he can state what reason now remains for censoring the letters between two of the principal contracting parties to the League of Nations; whether, in view of the magnitude of the trans-Atlantic mail, the examination of all letters is a substantial item in containing the high war burden which this country is bearing; and whether he can state the numbers of men and women engaged in this work?

The SECRETARY Of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. I am informed that delays in postal correspondence to America are mainly due to less frequent mail sailings and to the fact that the voyage is considerably longer than in pre-war days. I understand that the censorship is not responsible for more than forty-eight hours' delay as a maximum, and that the bulk of the mail is cleared in time to catch the same posts as those by which mails would be transmitted if they were not censored. As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Putney, in answer to a question last week, the Government is very desirous of abolishing the censorship as soon as it is possible to do so, but it is obvious that so long as the blockade exists, and the Orders for the prevention of capital and securities being transmitted out of the United Kingdom are in force, the censorship must be maintained. Two hundred women and sixty men are engaged in the censorship of the American mails, and the cost is £845 per week.


Are the Americans themselves keeping on a censorship too?


The hon. Member must give notice of that question.