§ 86. Mr. HOUSTON
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the disorganisation and delay to steamers, their movements, and operations, resulting in loss of time and public and private money, and thereby affecting the supply and price of food caused by the Censor or his staff in delaying transmission and delivery of cables sent to shipowners by their captains, agents, or branch houses abroad, and vice versa, in cases and instances where the contents of cables could not possibly be of any use or value to the enemy; whether he is aware that the same delay, inconvenience, and loss appertains to telegrams and letters delayed or held up by the Censor, in many instances causing delay to vessels in Government service and loss of public money; whether he is aware that letters, indents, and documents from captains to their owners in connection with repairs, storing, and efficient working of their steamers are suppressed by the Censor, even when these letters are sent by the captains from such near-by ports as Calais to their owners in London or Liverpool; whether he is aware that even when these documents are passed by the Censor they frequently are so mutilated that they are of no use; and whether he will, in the national interests, see, without waiting, that more intelligence and judgment are displayed by the Censor?
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am informed that those who control the censorship are acting in the closest collaboration with the Admiralty, and are as fully impressed as is the hon. Gentleman himself with the vital necessity of preventing any avoidable delay to shipping. No action is taken in regard to telegraphic correspondence concerning shipping except with a view to securing the safety of the vessel, and in regard to shipping documents special arrangements have been made so as to give exceptional facilities to these papers, and so avoid any possibility of unnecessary delay. If any such documents have been mutilated, I shall be glad to be provided with examples for the purposes of inquiry. I feel sure it will be found that the British Censorship is not responsible.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that much of the information regarding steamers' movements which is suppressed by the Censor at the instance of the Admiralty is published broadcast in 1582 neutral newspapers, and that the action of those officials therefore rather resembles that of the struthio camelus?