HC Deb 13 June 1901 vol 95 c283
MR. THOMAS DEWAR (Tower Hamlets, St George's)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he will state whether the new underground electric cable from London to Birmingham has realised official expectations; also, how it compares in swift and effective action, distance for distance, with overhead wires, both as regards telephones and telegraphs, and have the Post Office department any information showing the nature of the results of working the cable wires as part of telegraph circuits 300 or 400 miles long, such as those to Dublin and Edinburgh.


The Postmaster General is of opinion that the underground cable between London and Birmingham has realised the expectations of the department. It was not intended to be used as a telephone cable, the idea being that it would benefit the telephone service by setting free overhead telegraph routes, which would then be available for telephonic purposes. For long-distance telephonic communication it is important that aerial wires should be available. For ordinary telegraphic communication there is no diminution in the speed of working through the cable as compared with an overhead line, but for high-speed news circuits the cable at present involves the use of two wires as compared with one overhead wire. Combined with overhead wires the cable is being used for circuits extending to Belfast, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, which are each over 400 miles long. The cable has proved of the greatest utility in giving steadiness to the service, and in enabling the department to maintain that service during interruptions of the overhead lines by storms.