HC Deb 29 June 1908 vol 191 cc363-4

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to a Report by Dr. Francis J. Allan, medical officer of Westminster, with reference to the presence of disease germs in telephone mouthpieces; and whether any steps are taken to disinfect telephones at public call offices under the control of the Post Office.


My attention has been called to the statement by Dr. Allan, which was not communicated to the Post Office, but was published in The Lancet. No trace of disease germs appears to have been found on five out of the six call office telephones tested by Dr. Allan, and the circumstances with regard to the sixth instrument, which is understood to be one in use at a railway station, appear to be quite exceptional. A special inquiry, as regards the possible spread of infection by call office telephones, was made three years ago by the city medical officer of health, and a considerable number of call office telephones were tested, with the result that they were found to be free from disease germs. Steps are taken for regularly cleansing the telephones in public call offices, and suggestions for an improved method of disinfection are under consideration. The whole matter is under careful observation.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that certain eminent medical authorities were of opinion that, in the absence of disinfection, tuberculosis and diphtheria might be transmitted by the mouthpieces.


They are disinfected; and we are considering whether we cannot have a better method of disinfecting. I shall be very glad to receive any communication from any medical officer who has views on the subject.