§ MR. KIMBER () Wandsworth
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, what progress has been made by the Post Office Department with the expenditure of the two millions of money voted for telephone purposes last session; when the Post Office will be able to supply the public with telephonic communication: whether he will state the terms on which the Post Office propose to give the public such communication; and whether the telephones of the Post Office will be placed in communication with those of the National Telephone Company.
§ MR. HANBURY
Large contracts have already been made, and others will very shortly be concluded, for plant and underground wires involving an expenditure of about half a million pounds out of the one and a quarter million pounds which the London exchange will probably cost. Some delay has necessarily been caused by negotiation with the large number of vestries who, in the first instance, control the granting of way leaves, but these having now given their consent the work will he carried on at once over the whole of the large London area. The Post Office expect to afford telephonic communication in nearly the whole of the City area, the Strand and Charing Cross district, the whole of Westminster, Chelsea, Belgravia, South Kensington and Kensington to Notting Hill, West Kensington, Brompton, Fulham, Wimbledon, Putney, Barnes, and Mortlake, Kew, Richmond, Twickenham, Kingston, Norbiton, and Surbiton, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, and Chiswick, by the end of the year. I will have a map placed in the Tea Room showing this large district, and also the general plan of the wires in the whole of the London area. In view of the competition with the National Telephone Company, it would be obviously sunwise to disclose the rates to be charged 1446 until it is necessary to canvass for subscribers. There is no power to compel the National Telephone Company to allow intercommunication between their exchanges and that of the Post Office, but in view of the great importance of such intercommunication to the public, all reasonable steps will be taken to effect it, and the cooperation of the London County Council as the chief road authority may be of considerable assistance in bringing about that desirable result.