§ MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether 679 he has yet completed his examination into the accounts of the Post Office telegraphs and telephones, with a view to presenting them to the House in such a form as to show the net annual profit or net annual loss to the taxpayer after allowing for depreciation of plant, for interest upon loans, and for compound interest upon payments made out of the Exchequer, to meet capital expenditure or to meet losses in previous years; and how soon he will he able to publish such accounts.
§ THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON,) Tower Hamlets, Popular
As my hon. friend is aware, last autumn I appointed a Committee to consider the various accounts and returns presented to Parliament in connection with the telegraph and telephone services, and to report in what manner those accounts and returns can be modified or supplemented so as to show more clearly the financial results of those services. The Committee consisted of Mr. C. A. King, the Comptroller and Accountant-General of the Post Office, Mr. Blain, Assistant-Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Bromley, Accountant-General of the Board of Education, and Mr. Peat, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. I have received a preliminary Report from the Committee, and in the Estimates for the year 1908–9 a separation has been made in the manner recommended by the Committee, between telegraph and telephone expenditure; and the telephone revenue will be shown separately. The Committee are now examining the further question of the preparation of accounts so as to show the profit of loss to the taxpayer on each service. The points mentioned by my hon. friend will no doubt be considered by them.