§ MR. CURRAN (Durham, Jarrow)
On behalf of the hon. Member for South West Ham, I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the National Telephone Company have discharged 171 men in London alone, including nine canvassers, besides standing off four 281 canvassers at Blackburn, two in Bradford, and two in Stockport, and that all over their system 50 per cent. of the canvassers have been reduced; and whether he can see his way clear to ask the National Telephone Company if they are prepared to re-engage the canvassers with a view to securing orders for the company.
§ THE POSTMASTER - GENERAL (Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON, Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I am informed in regard to the discharge of men by the National Telephone Company in London that in many of the cases this was due to the termination of certain special work on subscribers' instruments in connection with a change in the system of working at some of the company's large exchanges and was not due to the cessation of ordinary works. I am also informed by the company that during the nine months ended 30th September, while 102 members of the canvassing staff were discharged sixty-six new men were employed, making a net decrease of thirty-six only in a total staff which numbers about 340 in all. I understand that the company propose to increase rather than to diminish the work of the canvassing staff in those places where they have a considerable amount of spare plant. Further, as I have already stated, the company inform me that they are prepared to meet all applications for new lines under ordinary conditions and that they have not refused such applications.
§ MR. CURRAN
Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to make arrangements whereby the National Telephone Company may be prevented, not only starving people by discharging them, but also starving the service?
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I am in active communication with the company. So far as I am concerned I am anxious to come to some arrangement so that the construction work may be carried on smoothly until 1911.