HC Deb 20 June 1907 vol 176 cc588-9

To ask the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the new tariff issued by the National Telephone Company, as from the 1st of January, 1907, whereby all unlimited tariffs for business purposes are withdrawn; whether he is aware that an ordinary business house having its office within one mile of a local exchange, with an average of twenty calls per day, would under such revised tariff be called upon to pay £23 14s. 8d. per annum for such service as against £10 paid by subscribers who were connected prior to the 1st January, 1907, and remain under the old tariff; whether the National Telephone Company or the Post Office Department are responsible for this change; and whether he will take steps to relieve the extra burden thus proposed to be placed upon the commercial community of this country.

(Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I am aware that a new tariff was brought into use by the National Telephone Company on the 1st January last, and that the unlimited service rate for business lines was withdrawn. Experience has shown that this rate is not profitable and that it tends to encourage subscribers to originate more calls than their lines will carry without blocking inward calls, thus rendering the service loss efficient. The general demand in this country, as in America, is now for a measured service, which proportions the payment to the service obtained and allows moderate rates to be given to small users. An average of twenty calls a day originated by any subscriber would, if due allowance were made for a corresponding number of inward calls, be more than one line could carry, and two lines would properly be required. Under the new tariff at the private branch exchange rate two exchange lines and the right to originate 6,000 calls would cost £21 10s., which is at the rate of about fourteen calls for 1s., and the charge for additional calls would be at the rate of less than ½d. each.