HC Deb 28 February 1905 vol 141 c1455
MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)

To ask the Postmaster-General if he will consider the advisability of reducing the present charge over the trunk telephone lines through the United Kingdom so that the commercial community of Great Britain may in this respect have similar advantages as received by Continental nations.

(Answered by Lord Stanley.) The average payment for a conversation over the telephone trunk system of the United Kingdom is less than 6d., and having regard to the cost of the trunk lines and to the difficult conditions to which the construction of those lines is subject in this country, I am not prepared to recommend any reduction in the present scale of charges. New trunk lines are tilled with traffic almost as soon as they are opened, and it is difficult to keep pace with the demand for increased facilities even at the present rates. The charges in other European countries are subject to conditions which do not obtain here. For instance, in most countries in order to obtain prompt communication the public have to pay three times the ordinary rate; and in one important country, at least, the capital for construction is provided without interest by local authorities or by commercial bodies and not by the administration which conducts the service. I may, perhaps, mention that in the United States the charges for the same distances are much higher than in this country.