A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, Vol. 13

A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, Vol. 13

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Excerpt from A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, Vol. 13: From the Year M, DC, LXVIII to the Present Time

On Monday the the 17th of February, Walter Plummer, Esq; moved the House of Commons, 'That the Post-master General might be ordered to lay before that house, a copy of his Majesty's warrant, whereby letters were permitted to pass free of the duty payable upon post letters;' which copy was accordingly laid before the house upon the 19th; and upon the 26th, the fame gentleman moved, 'That it might be taken into consideration.' The warrant being accordingly read, the house proceeded to take it into consideration; upon which occasion, complaints were made by several members, that their letters were not only charged at the post-office, but that they were often broke open and perused by the clerks; and that this practice of breaking open letters, was become so frequent, and was so publickly known, that the very end for which that liberty was given to the post-masters, was intirely disappointed; for the intention being at first to discover any treasonable correspondence that might be carried on against the government, that intention was rendered altogether vain, because by the practice of opening letters being so frequent, and so well known, it was certain, that no man would carry on any treasonable correspondence by means of the post-office; so that the liberty given to break open letters at the post-office, could now serve no purpose, but to enable the little clerks about that office, to pry into the private affairs of every merchant, and of every gentleman in the kingdom. At last it was insisted, that the warrant then laid before the house, was not the last warrant granted by his Majesty, nor the warrant by which the post-masters then acted; and therefore it was moved, That a Committee should be appointed to inquire into that affair.

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