I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that Mr. Careless, a post office sorter, has recently been dismissed, after sixteen years good conduct service, on a charge of stealing and cashing a postal order value 8s. 6d.; that Mr. Careless denies the charge and demands to be prosecuted so that he may prove his innocence; that the post office, though they have deducted the 8s. 6d. from his pay, refuse to prosecute him; and whether it is in accordance with the rules of the public service to dismiss an old official for stealing, deduct the loss from his wages, and yet refuse to prosecute him when he demands to be tried to prove his innocence.
In reply to the hon. Member I have to state that Mr. Alfred Charles Careless, late a sorter attached to the Circulation Branch at the chief office was recently dismissed by the Postmaster General, as he was of opinion that Mr. Careless was not a fit person to be retained in the service. The Postmaster General is unable to admit the principle that he is bound to prosecute a post office servant for an alleged irregularity before dismissing him. The Postmaster General must in the interest of the public service exercise a discretion in such matters.
May I ask whether this sorter was dismissed not for irregularity and unsuitability, but for absolute stealing? Was not the money said to have been stolen deducted from his wages, and has he not asked to be prosecuted for stealing in order to be may have an opportunity of proving his innocence?
There was a deduction made as stated in the question. The reply given to me by the Postmaster General is that which I have read. It says that Mr. Careless was dismissed because the Postmaster General did not think him a fit person to be retained in the service. If Mr. Careless considers himself aggrieved he has his remedy against the Postmaster General, who cannot undertake to order a prosecution in every case in which he feels it necessary to dispense with anyone's service.
Will the Postmaster General defend the action if one is brought?
I must ask for notice of that.
In view of precedents recently set by another Department, cannot this man, who is unfit for service at home, be sent to Gibraltar?
[No answer was returned.]