HC Deb 26 May 1921 vol 142 cc307-8
37. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a letter from Mr. Hunt, under-manager at the Haunchwood Colliery, Nuneaton, to a Socialist society at Glasgow, asking for copies of several publications, was taken by the police and sent to Mr. Hunt's employers, who thereupon dismissed him from their service; and whether His Majesty's Government sanction the use of private letters so seized to inflict injury upon an innocent man by communicating information contained therein to a man's employers?

56. Mr. CAIRNS

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in the various raids made upon offices of organisations concerned in the printing and circulation of literature, there is any rule for the guidance of the police officers in dealing with the documents seized; whether his attention has been drawn to the circumstances surrounding the dismissal from his employment of William Henry Hunt, under-manager of the Haunchwood Colliery; whether he is aware that this man some time ago wrote to the Bakunin Press, Glasgow, asking for a supply of certain literature which he desired to study; that subsequently he was called before his employers, confronted with a copy of the letter he had sent to Glasgow, and dismissed from his employment; that, just previously, the offices of the Bakunin Press were raided and a number of documents, including Mr. Hunt's letter, seized; whether documents seized by the police in these raids are handed over to private persons; and whether he will make close inquiry into this matter and ascertain how Mr. Hunt's letter came to the knowledge of his employers?


This matter has only just come to my notice. It was dealt with by the chief constables of the local police forces concerned. I will make inquiry, and for the present I can only say that it is the rule for the police under my immediate control not to show documents which they may seize in the course of their duty to the employers of the persons by whom they are written.


Will the right hon. Gentleman ascertain whether the police were instructed that it was necessary that this action should be taken?


I have said that I will make inquiries.


Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that if this action has taken place, he will indicate to the man's employers that a mistake has been made and that, in view of that mistake, the action taken by them should be reversed?


I cannot say anything until the inquiry has been made.