July 3, 1952

LIB

George Taylor Fulford

Liberal

Mr. Fulfcrd:

I do want to congratulate the minister upon his appointment. At the outset I want to say how pleased I am that this year there has been no campaign to abolish the small village post office. I have had that worry in past years, but during

1952 there has been no such campaign and I trust the Postmaster General has been somewhat responsible for that.

I should like to say a word in commendation of Mr. George Herring, who was recently superannuated from the position of director of communications. I always found Mr. Herring most co-operative, most attentive and most reasonable. While 1 am on the subject I should like to say a word about Mr. L. J. Mills, who I believe is on loan from the treasury branch of the Post Office Department. I have found him almost equally attentive. I say "almost" because Mr. Herring had the job for so long and knew the ropes so well it is hard for anyone to take his place, especially on a temporary basis. .

I should like also to join with those who have spoken about the predicament of the rural mail carriers. When I say "predicament" I mean it in its literal sense. It is a terrible system, and one that should be rectified as soon as possible. I have been hearing about it ever since I have been a member, and I hope I do not have to hear about this abominable system very much longer. We all hope some system will be devised which will be equitable to the rural mail carriers.

In conclusion I should like to say a word about a system which has been inaugurated by the civil service commission; that is the system of bringing outsiders to class I and II post offices. I think it is a bad thing for a man to have to move from one community to another as postmaster. When a man tries the civil service examinations and passes them, then goes into postal service in one post office, he should remain in that particular post office. His final reward for efficiency ought to be the postmastership there. I certainly do not agree that a man should be moved from one community to another and given that position.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

I should like to raise my voice with respect to postal facilities in my own area. I suggest the minister should inform the committee concerning the situation at Streetsville, Ontario. It is a rapidly growing community in the county of Peel and, as the minister and his predecessor know, representations have been made by myself and others locally for a new post office. I understand those representations have now been considered, and that some move is to be made with respect to improved postal facilities. First I should like the minister to indicate to the committee at the appropriate time the type of improvement in the postal

service that the patrons of that post office may expect in the near future.

May I also make representations to the minister in connection with the postal facilities in the county town of my constituency. The town of Brampton has had the same post office since about 1890, if my recollection of its history is correct, though I am afraid I cannot remember personally that far back. Since that time the town has grown, during the last few years particularly because of the rapid expansion in industrial developments and business generally in that part of Canada. The postal facilities there need improvement. The post office building in Brampton also houses the customs and excise branches of the Department of National Revenue. All these departments are finding the accommodation rather cramped. The need for a new public building in Brampton is very great.

I am going to ask the minister if he will take into consideration the representations that have been made, and which I am making again now, for a new public building, either for the post office itself or one to house the post office and the offices of national revenue. If the minister looks into the situation he will find this is not an improper request to make. The population of the town has almost doubled in the last fifteen years, and the post office facilities are not capable of great expansion. For that reason I believe he will find that a new public building would be in the interests of the departments involved as well as the interests of those whom a public building would serve. Will the minister, at the appropriate time, answer the question as to whether or not there is some possibility of a new building in the near future to give improved postal facilities to that town? I should be pleased indeed if he could give full particulars about what is proposed with respect to these facilities, and the moves that have been made up to date in that connection.

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PC

Harry Oliver White

Progressive Conservative

Mr. White (Middlesex East):

I shall detain the committee for only a moment. Along with many others, I want to extend my congratulations to the Postmaster General. I am sure his appointment has met with the approval of all members of the house, and we all feel he is going to be very co-operative in the discharge of his duties.

There are just one or two things I want to mention. The tender system has been discussed, so I shall not say any more about it. I should like to say a word about the rural delivery of mail. Today I received a letter from the department concerning applications for the extension of two mail routes. I wonder how the member for Wellington North was so successful. I think I shall have to have

3. 1952 4219

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a little talk with him. In the one case the applicant lived two-tenths of a mile from the route, and he was too near. The other two people on another road lived seven-tenths of a mile away and they were too far. You might be able to tell that to some people but not to me.

I hope that situation will be reviewed. While the basis of delivery may be two to the mile, or whatever it is in Ontario, I understand that in some other provinces they do not need to have as many. In this day and age of fast transportation, let us try to profit by it. Someone said the rural mail routes were established during the horse and buggy days. With modern transportation let us now try to extend rural mail service to as many people as possible. Let us not be too rigid about the rules. In suburban areas and in those areas around the cities that are growing fast, there is probably some difficulty. In some areas sidewalks are not down and they are finding some difficulty in getting mail delivery. I hope action can be speeded up in some cases. I think that is all I need to say at this time. I hope that the minister will co-operate.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to repeat anything that has been said with regard to rural mail couriers. Since coming to the House of Commons I have heard this story over and over again. Indeed, if you read the debates year by year on the post office estimates, you will find that they are almost prototypes and complete repetitions of those in previous years with regard to the demand that something be done toward providing a system that is fair to the mail couriers in place of the present obsolete system which in so many cases denies fairness and justice.

I rise not for the purpose of joining in the demand that something be done in this regard, because I have practically given up hope that anything will be done inasmuch as the mail couriers have not many votes. That fact apparently is one of the reasons why over the years nothing effective has been done to meet their demands. I rose for the purpose of bringing to the attention of the minister the situation in the city of Prince Albert, which is a city of some 17,000 and which I think has the worst air mail service of any city in Canada. It serves the northern part of Saskatchewan, including 'that new area being opened up in the uranium fields ana also tne other basic metal fields. Yet within the last few months the air mail service has been reduced to a minimum. Indeed at the present time the air mail service consists of only 14 mails for every 24 days.

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Since I came into the house I received a letter which was written by the Prince Albert board of trade and which requests reconsideration of a situation that is a denial of fairness to a city the size of Prince Albert. In this letter it is stated that during the period from May 25 to June 21 the total number of air mails into Prince Albert was only 14. Canadian Pacific Air Lines operate into Prince Albert and have a daily service, except for Sundays, in and out. This letter from the Prince Albert board of trade states in part as follows:

. . . we feel that postal officials themselves will now agree that for a city of this size serving a large territory in this province, the above calibre of service cannot be termed adequate.

Apparently the hon. member for Prince Albert had taken this matter up, for the letter .states:

. . . the board of trade would appreciate every effort being made to convince authorities that the previous service should be reinstated immediately in order that businessmen in this city and citizens generally may enjoy similar postal service prevailing in all Canadian cities and many centres of smaller population and less importance.

I know what the situation is in Prince Albert. That is my home. The mail service is totally inexcusable. The air mail service, which consists of 14 air mails delivered during the period of about a month, denies that communication without which business cannot be properly done today. The letter goes on to state:

. . . the expansion of this city during recent years and the expansion of the territory which it is .[DOT]serving, does not coincide with the reasoning of the post office department that mail service need not include full-fledged air mail service.

I make this appeal to the minister. I realize what the general answer is, namely that there is a saving in expenditure. That is true; but surely there should not be a saving effected at the expense of reasonable service for a city the size of Prince Albert which serves a vast area east, west and north; and the northern section in particular reaches about 400 miles north of Prince Albert. I ask the minister to reconsider the decision made some two or three months ago to reduce that air mail service, and to reinstate that ordinary mail service which all of us today, almost everywhere in Canada, have the right to expect, in particular those living in cities serving a large area such as Prince Albert.

There ig one other matter I want to mention also. Various members have extended their felicitations to the mmister. I did that personally and most sincerely. Since he has been minister it has been possible to approach him or his department and be assured of reasonable consideration of reasonable

[Mr. Diefenbaker.l

requests. That is something worthy of mention. When matters are brought to his attention, I have found that they are not shelved for future consideration, but that one receives a reply that the matter is being considered. One does not always expect the consideration to be favourable, but one does appreciate the situation when there is a minister who gives an immediate reply and who not only promises to look into the matter, but does so.

I point out to him this fact. Under the law, with respect to the appointment of postmasters there is a soldier preference or a service preference. I have received information-and I have offered the most strenuous objection on more than one occasion-that where appointments of postmasters have been made, in cases where those qualified were living in the neighbourhood, for some reason or another appointments were made outside of the preference. I impress upon the minister that if he is to receive from members of the house co-operation equal to that which we find we are going to receive from him, the soldier or service consideration that assures the appointment of servicemen must be maintained.

With those few remarks I am going to resume my seat. I join with the previous members in again repeating the request that something be done for the mail couriers, and also once again repeating what has been said on earlier occasions that, after all, the Post Office Department is one department where profit should not be the sole consideration. Profit is not the reason for the setting up of the Post Office Department; it is service. And it is in that spirit that I ask for consideration for the city of Prince Albert and the area served by it.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryce:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to bring to the attention of the Postmaster General the situation with respect to my home town of Dugald. I would point out that 25 years ago we had a better mail service than we have today. At this time we receive our letters Friday morning, and do not receive anything further until the following Monday. When the minister goes to the west I hope he will spend a couple of days in Winnipeg, and that he will get back for us the service we had 25 years ago. It would certainly be appreciated.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I should like to refer to one subject raised by the hon. member for Peterborough West, who made reference to the use of the mails by the Canadian peace congress. In response to that statement the Postmaster General explained that it was

difficult to determine what was inside an envelope, or to take action in regard to anything that might be handled in a sealed envelope.

I wish to refer to this because the regulation which would govern a case of this kind has been discussed in the house at some length on earlier occasions. It arose earlier, not in connection with the use of the mails for communist propaganda; the discussions on the occasions to which I refer related to a denial of the use of the mails to certain organizations and individuals, either in connection with stock-selling activities, lotteries or things of that kind.

Because of the answer by the minister this evening I should like to refer back to what was said at that time. There are two regulations which have a direct bearing on this matter. Although they are now numbered 347 and 348, at the time this subject was under discussion they were numbered 204 and 205.

When this was being discussed and some question was raised as to the propriety of denying use of the mails to individuals in connection with lotteries and activities of that kind, and particularly the directions given affecting individuals who might be associated with such lotteries, the Minister of Justice, as reported at page 2335 of Hansard for May 9, 1950, said:

The statute calls on the Postmaster General to refuse the use of the mails to persons whom he reasonably suspects of using the post office facilities to defraud the public. The only question is whether the Postmaster General had reasonable grounds for his suspicion. From the facts when they are disclosed I think you will have to agree that the Postmaster General did have good grounds for his suspicion.

The regulation to which I refer covered fraud in connection with the handling of securities or lotteries, or other matters of the kind; the section 205, which is now 348, contains this provision-and I am omitting the words that relate to other subjects-

It is forbidden to post for delivery or transmission [DOT]by or through post any publication, matter or thing of a seditious, disloyal or scurrilous character.

The remarks of the Minister of Justice, therefore, will apply with equal force to anything that could be described as seditious, disloyal or scurrilous. Then the Minister of Justice, as reported at page 2337 of the same date, had this to say:

The point which the Postmaster General must decide is the simple one of whether or not there are good grounds for suspecting that postal privileges under the Postmaster General are being -abused.

The subject under discussion then was the *denial to a number of organizations of the

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use of the mails. I should like to quote from what I said on May 16, 1950, as reported at page 2528 of Hansard. At that time I was discussing the monthly supplements of the Canada official postal guide which contained the names of the organizations and individuals against whom orders had been made by the Postmaster General.

I see just on these two pages in front of me in this single supplement the names of branches of the Legion, of a religious order, of a teachers' organization, of an insurance company, of a labour organization, of a curling club and of an athletic committee-and the names of a number of individuals. Then under these orders are these words:

"Registered letters are not to be accepted addressed to the above, and all mail addressed to or coming from the above is to be intercepted and sent specially by first mail to the administration branch (for the dead letter office)."

I submit that if it is appropriate for the Postmaster General to issue orders against branches of the Legion, religious orders, teachers' organizations, insurance companies, labour organizations and groups of that kind, whose activities in the ordinary course of events are 'not only lawful but highly commendable, because they may infringe some of the provisions of these regulations, then it just is not within the bounds of common sense that orders should not be made restricting the use of the mails for seditious and disloyal material of the kind to which we have referred earlier today.

Here I have only a few of the things that have come in recently from this disloyal organization known as the Canadian peace congress. I do not wish to appear to be obsessed with the activities of this one organization. I have, however, indicated my own belief that under proper legal provisions and fully in accordance with our conception of impartial justice steps should be taken to deal with people whose one purpose is to undermine the spirit of our people in their efforts to resist communist aggression, whether from the military point of view or through propaganda within our own country.

No more disloyal, seditious and scurrilous publication has been circulated through the mails of Canada than this publication I hold in my hand under the title "I Accuse" which claims to have been prepared by this man Endicott. Nor is it confined to things of this kind alone. As is known generally to members of the house, this shameless man, this man who uses our very broad freedom to try to undermine the efforts that are being made by Canada, along with the other free nations, to take a stand against communist aggression, not long ago attempted to create the impression that certain nuns, some of whom were Canadians, had been responsible for

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the death of Chinese children. That vile slander, issued first by the Chinese communists and repeated by these jackals for the communists, is the kind of thing that is going unchecked and is being distributed.

The Minister of Justice made it clear that it is not the intention of the Department of Justice to take action under the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to treason and sedition, but the same Minister of Justice has made it abundantly clear that he believes it is not only competent for the Postmaster General to act under sections 347 and 348 of the postal regulations, it is the duty of the Postmaster General to act if he has reasonable grounds for believing that any organization or individual is using the postal services for the distribution of disloyal or seditious or scurrilous material.

What can young Canadians in uniform in Korea at this time think of a situation of this nature? What can they think of our tolerance of these carefully calculated efforts to undermine their confidence in what they are doing? Many of these young men in the battle line have died and others have been grievously wounded in the defence of this and all other free countries against this vile doctrine and the aggression which is carried on in its name. How can we tell them that it is appropriate for the postal regulations to deny to Legion branches the use of the mails where perhaps with complete sincerity but not in strict conformity with the law they may be conducting lotteries, and at the same time these people who are serving only one master, the master against whom these men are fighting on the field of battle, are permitted to use our mails at the general expense of the public of Canada to distribute their disloyal, seditious and scurrilous propaganda.

I know that the Postmaster General was not the Postmaster General at the time this subject came up earlier for discussion. I wish in all sincerity to join with those who have complimented him upon his elevation to this office. I agree with what has been said about the indication he has given of his desire to deal with the problems that are placed before him; but may I say that if in the light of the decisions already announced in this house by the Minister of Justice, to whose opinions he referred on an earlier occasion, it is correct-and I make that qualification-for the Postmaster General to act in accordance with the opinion of the Minister of Justice in relation to a relatively unimportant activity, then the time is long overdue for vigorous and positive action to prevent the use of our mails for these seditious purposes.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

Mr. Chairman, I want personally to express my sincere appreciation for the kind expressions that have been uttered about the Postmaster General and the department. I can assure all hon. members that I shall do my best to give the information requested and to solve the problems which come before me. I will not have time to deal fully with all the questions that have been asked, and which I think can be divided into two parts.

Reference has been made to the rural mail couriers. I would refer hon. members to the declaration I made previously that a committee would be set up at the next session. I know there are problems created by having these contracts let by tender. In that way a contractor selects his price but once he has the contract it is possible that complications may arise. A departmental committee has already made many suggestions which I shall be glad to place before the committee so they may be studied by the members. I only-hope, as has been suggested already, that a proper scheme satisfactory to all will be worked out.

I shall try to answer some of these specific questions as briefly as possible. I do not know all the details of the case referred to by the hon. member for Battle River, but I shall look into the matter and advise him. The hon. member for Hamilton West asked a few questions and made a few suggestions. I would direct her attention to the fact that the economies that were effected were offset by the extra payments that had to be made in connection with railways and mail contracts. We have also had two increases in the salaries of postal employees, and additional services are being provided.

An hon. member wanted figures about overtime that had been paid. The payments in 1951-52 for this purpose amounted to $1,981,700 and the estimate for 1952-53 is $2,100,000.

Reference was made to the rates on gift parcels to Great Britain, and in this connection I would refer the hon. member to a statement which was given on April 3, 1952, which appears in Hansard of that date. I shall not repeat that statement tonight. I might say that Great Britain asked that the higher rates be made effective in October, 1951, but we were able to persuade them not to increase the rates until after the Christmas season. These rates are based on arrangements between both countries; we made concessions and they made concessions. When Great Britain decided to do away with these concessions we inevitably had to let them do what

they wanted to do, and that is why the only success we had was in delaying this change in rates for a few months.

So far as this point is concerned, I think I should probably give this further information. Parcel rates are based on the following three factors: first, cost of handling in Canada; second, cost of sea conveyance; third, terminal payment for delivery in Great Britain. Domestic parcel rates in Canada were increased in the summer of 1951. These basic increases are reflected in the rates on parcels to Great Britain and other countries. Payment for sea conveyance is determined by the steamship company. The terminal charges paid the British post office for handling and delivery of parcels after they have reached a British port are fixed by the British post office.

Effective April 1, 1949, arrangements were made with the steamship companies and the British postal administration for the acceptance of reduced charges for gift parcels. It was therefore possible to offer cheaper postage rates. In the fall of 1951 the British post office advised that the cost of handling and delivery had so increased that it was not only necessary to increase normal parcel post rates but also to abolish the preferential rates which hitherto applied to gift parcels. The special sea conveyance rates which had been charged for gift parcels were withdrawn on April 1, 1951, and when the reduced British terminal charges were also withdrawn it became necessary to increase the parcel post rates to Great Britain. This was made effective from January 1, 1952.

I think it is only fair to say that because of the circumstances the authorities in Great Britain found it necessary to cancel the arrangements they had with us at the time and that is why they as well as we had to make other arrangements.

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?

Thomas D'Arcy Leonard

Mr. Leonard:

Carried.

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LIB
PC
LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I just wanted to give the information requested. The hon. member for Queens talked about a deficit.

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?

An hon. Member:

He is not here.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I might say that although it may appear there was a deficit in 1950-51 we did not have a deficit because we had paid increased rates to the railway companies which applied not only for that year but for previous years.

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I think I can conclude by saying that I will take into consideration all the questions that have been put to me tonight. The hon. member for Peel raised one question, but I will send him the information he asked for. I know he will be satisfied. So far as the questions asked by the hon. member for Gloucester are concerned, I will write giving him the information he has requested. I may tell him, as well as all other hon. members, that I will do my best to satisfy them in answering their questions and will try to solve their problems as best I can.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

With respect to the matter of overseas parcels, I can well understand that the United Kingdom government could not make concessions in the matter of postage because of the very limited number of their own citizens who would benefit by the receipt of these parcels. However, I do not think that is an argument that applies here in Canada, where so many of our citizens have interests in the old land. Therefore I would urge the Postmaster General to take this matter into consideration and pursue it still further.

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Item agreed to. 313. Transportation-movement of mail by land, air and water, including administration, $40,542,048.


LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. Applewhaite:

This item refers to the transportation of mail, and according to the particulars some $9,500,000 is for transportation by air. Under ordinary circumstances I would have liked to speak on this item at considerable length, but I shall show more mercy to the house than has been shown by several hon. members during the past couple of weeks. However, I am going to take time to say with respect to air mail services on the west coast that I and the people on the coast have great reason to express appreciation not only to the Postmaster General but to his deputy for the consideration, sympathy and understanding that have been shown. In brief my plea at this moment is that the Postmaster General give serious and, if I may say so, prompt consideration to the installation of airmail service to these points particularly, Ocean Falls, Kemano and Kiti-mat on the Pacific coast which are not now receiving that service though they are served by regular twice a week air service. The development in that area and the need for increased service would justify me even at this stage of the session in talking about it for ten or fifteen minutes, but I am not going to do so. I am merely going to leave that request with the Postmaster General because I feel sure if he will investigate, even in the most cursory manner, the increased needs that have arisen in those areas he will

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find that this plea is very well founded, and at the same time-

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?

An hon. Member:

Carried.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. Applewhaite:

The hon. gentlemen

opposite who mutter "carried" might well have remembered over the past weeks that there were other matters to come before the house besides those in which they took such a long drawn out interest. I propose to finish my remarks, and if they suggest that I am taking longer than I am entitled to I shall say what I had originally intended to say. Before the interruption I was on the point of saying that I wished to add to my recommendation to the Postmaster General that at the same time and in connection therewith there might well be considered the provision of an airmail system east and west between Prince George and Prince Rupert, a distance of some 488 miles, where there are now four or five usable airfields.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Before we leave this item I think it might be well if we asked the Postmaster General if he has the answer to the question asked by the leader of the opposition.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I will be glad to refer my hon. friend to the statement I made before dinner. I might also add that if it is possible to find out where the document he mentioned is printed it would be possible to refer the matter to the authorities of the province where it is printed and action might be taken by them with respect to it. When items are in sealed envelopes the department can do nothing. The postal department is against censorship. As much as I might like to open an envelope addressed to the hon. member for Hamilton West and learn all her secrets, the fact is that it just is not done. It is most unfortunate, but it may happen that questionable documents are in sealed envelopes and they cannot be opened just to satisfy the curiosity of the Postmaster General or anyone else.

However, if it is brought to the attention of the Postmaster General that something is obscene or against the law respecting fraud or lotteries, then under section 7 of the Post Office Act, which reads as follows, action might be taken:

7. (1) Whenever the Postmaster General believes on reasonable grounds that any person

(a) is, by means of the mails (i) committing or attempting to commit an offence, or (ii) aiding, counselling or procuring any person to commit an offence, or (b>

with intent to commit an offence, is using the mails for the purpose of accomplishing his object, the Postmaster General may make an interim order . . .

First it must be established that an offence has been committed or is about to be committed and as long as the proper legal authorities do not feel that an offence has been committed or is about to be committed the Postmaster General cannot act. Again I refer my hon. friend to what I said before dinner. We want to do our utmost to protect the public but at the same time we cannot violate the sanctity of the -mail. We must protect the secrecy of communication of individuals using the mails.

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July 3, 1952