§ SIR JOHN BRUNNER
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether it is the intention of the Department, after the transfer of the telephone trunk lines from the National Telephone Company to the Department, to close these trunk lines at the hours of closing of the various post offices, and thus to deprive a large body of subscribers of the convenience hitherto enjoyed by them of making use of the telephone at all hours of the night?
§ MR. HANBURY
From the best information in the hands of the Post Office it appears that, except in a few cases, the telephone trunk wires are scarcely ever used at night, and the Department would not, therefore, be justified in going to the expense of providing attendance after the ordinary official hours. In the first instance, therefore, it is proposed that the hours for telephone business shall be the same as for telegraph business, but the Department will give careful attention to the matter and ascertain where the requirements of the public will justify an extension of the hours. At many of the larger offices the telegraph service is open to the public all night, and there, of course, the telephone service will also be open.
§ MR. JASPER TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General (1) whether he can state what steps the Post Office authorities propose to take in reference to the numerous complaints as to the inefficiency and expensiveness of the telephone service supplied by the National Telephone Company; and (2) whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to terminate the monopoly of this Company by taking over the entire telephone business, as was done in the case of the telegraphs?
§ MR. HANBURY
If it were proved in any case that the Company were not affording a satisfactory service, the Government would be prepared to consider the question of the establishment of a limited competition by the Post Office. In answer to the second portion of the question, I have to say that it is not the intention of the Government to take over the entire telephone business before the expiration of the Company's licence.