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Sub-Postmistress, Belfast (Displacement)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 17 March 1943

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asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the indignation aroused in Belfast by his decision to take away the means of livelihood of Mrs. Alice Mary Graham, the postmistress of Fortwilliam sub-post office, 573, Antrim Road, Belfast; whether he can state the nature of the inquiries he made before coming to this decision; whether he is aware that the source of his information is unreliable; and if he will set up an inquiry into this case?

One of the sons of Mrs. Graham, John S. S. Graham, was recently convicted of treason felony, while another son, James Ford Graham, was recently interned under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) (Northern Ireland) Acts; and the security authorities in Northern Ireland subsequently represented to the Post Office that Mrs. Graham was not only aware of the disloyal activities of her sons but also approved and assisted them in those activities. The Post Office did not feel justified in retaining a person whose loyalty was in doubt in a position where she might have access to information of vital interest to ill-disposed persons; and I agree with this view.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the source of his information is not reliable, and further is he aware that the statements contained in the document which I have personally seen are nonsense and untrue? Will he have a consultation with me with a view to placing the other side of the case before him on a sworn affidavit?

Are we to take it that it is the policy of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department that a person is to be punished, although he himself may be loyal, simply because a relation is not loyal?

Are we to understand that when a request is made to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman by an hon. Member to consult with him he declines?

The hon. Gentleman must understand nothing of the kind, but in a question of this sort, which also touches upon the public constitutional position of the Northern Ireland authorities, some of the points which the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Beattie) had in mind would be more properly raised there than with me.

Will not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman reconsider his decision? If my hon. Friend wishes to meet him, will he not agree?

Of course, provided it concerns something for which I have responsibility. What the hon. Member referred to was no such thing.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that only one side of the case has been presented to him, and will he accept an invitation from me, without prejudice, that I am prepared to submit to him the sworn evidence of Mrs. Graham? Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman going to hold the mother responsible for any action of her older son, who left home many years ago?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has laid down a guiding principle in connection with this matter. I want to know whether it will apply to the Secretary of State for India, who is conscious of where his son is and what he is doing.

In view of the fact that my hon. Friend was allowed to ask the Question, would it not be proper for you, Mr. Speaker, to give the Minister an opportunity of replying?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment.