Mr. Baker White:
asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that at 11.15 a.m. on 30th June a Post Office inspector called at 72, Meadowside, Eltham, S.E.9, the residence of Mr. R. E. Cross and demanded to see the wireless licence, although he has not got a wireless set; that when Mrs. Cross stated this fact he said he would have to search the house and attempted to force an entry but was forcibly prevented from doing so by Mrs. Cross; that he further stated he would apply for a search warrant; and what action he proposes to take in this case and in others of attempted entry brought to his notice by the hon. Member for Canterbury.
The inquiry officer of my Department who visited No. 72, Meadowside, Eltham, denies emphatically that he attempted to force an entry. He states that he requested permission to enter in order to verify that a wireless receiving set was not in use, but permission was refused and he accepted the refusal. I have no means of reconciling the very different versions of the incident given in the hon. Member's Question and by my inquiry officer; but whichever version is correct, and whatever led to Mrs. Cross's complaint, I much regret any inconvenience or distress she may have felt.
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) has brought two other complaints to my notice. In one, which occurred last January, the Head Postmaster was asked by the householder to verify that the visit was genuine, and he did so. In the other, which occurred in March, the householder reported that the visit had occasioned some distress to his wife and an apology was made. In neither case was any complaint or suggestion of entry or search made. In the hope of reducing to the utmost the occasions of complaint, I have had the instructions about the conduct of these inquiries revised.
Mr. Baker White:
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case of Mrs. Cross the inspector who visited the house put his foot in the doorway so that Mrs. Cross was unable to close it, that he refused to accept her statement that she had not a wireless at all, and that he got into a temper and threatened to get a search warrant? Is he further aware that when I asked him on 6th June about the case of Miss Clarke, at Herne Bay, he said that no other cases had been brought to his notice during his term of office at the Post Office? I have brought three other cases to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, and proceedings reported in the Press yesterday indicate that another case has occurred at Reading.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the new instructions will make it clear to his officers that they have no right of entry, and make it clear to the householder that they can only enter with the householder's consent.