§ 21. Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that private letters between an English lady residing in Jersey and a lady in the Irish Free State who have long corresponded together have been opened by the British Post Office, notwithstanding the fact that the envelope was sealed with the private seal of the sender; whether the public are to understand that there is no longer any privacy in private communications between private individuals through the post; and whether he will arrange for private letters which are opened in the post to bear some official memorandum showing the circumstances and the reasons whereby such letters have been opened?
§ Sir K. WOOD
No, Sir. Letters in the post can be opened only in pursuance of a warrant issued by a Secretary of State. There are standing instructions for the issue of a memorandum on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend in cases where a letter is opened in the post in connection with a lottery search.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the past private letters have been opened only when there has been suspicion of serious crime, such as murder or something of that kind, and that it is a new development to open private letters between private individuals in order to search for lottery tickets? My right hon. Friend said that it is the Home Secretary who is responsible, but is my right hon. Friend not responsible for the opening of these letters?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this practice is now coming to the knowledge of the criminal class, which is opening hundreds of letters in order to obtain the signatures of individuals, and that the signatures are traced and ultimately forged to get money from the banks?
§ Mr. HARCOURT JOHNSTONE
How many times has the Department applied for a warrant in connection with lotteries?