HC Deb 25 January 1886 vol 302 cc307-8

asked, Whether attention has been drawn to the failures of telegraph and telephone wires used overhead in the Metropolis during the recent snowstorm, and to the accidents which have been occasioned thereby; whether a Return of these failures and these accidents will be prepared and presented to the House; and, whether any steps will be taken to prevent this constantly increasing danger to all persons using the streets of the Metropolis?


My attention has been drawn to the failure of telegraph wires during the recent snow- storm; and I am glad to be able to state, in reply to the Question of the hon. Member, that no case of accident to any human being has been caused by the wires belonging to the Post Office. A large proportion of the overhead wires in the Metropolis do not belong to the Post Office; and the Department has no means, therefore, of furnishing the Return asked for. The policy of the Post Office for many years past has been to substitute underground for overhead wires in London, and also in other large cities, wherever the extra expense involved could be justified; and since my appointment I have given renewed instructions on this point. I may add that the mileage of postal telegraph wires in the Metropolis on the 31st of December was 9,832 miles, of which 9,005 miles, or about 11–12ths, were underground wires. In the Eastern Central and Western Central postal districts, which comprise the half of the Metropolis, there were only 44 miles of overhead wires the property of the Department. As the House is aware, a Select Committee was appointed last Session to consider the law relating to the control over telephone, telegraph, and other wires, and made a Report; but it has not been considered desirable to take action in the direction of the course recommended in that Report.