HC Deb 20 July 1911 vol 28 cc1276-7

asked the Postmaster-General whether he was aware that at some of the country exchanges the Post Office charged an extra 3d. for a telephone trunk call after 8 p.m., with a further fee of 3d. on calls put through after 10 p.m., whereas the National Telephone Company at similar exchanges had made no extra charge for late calls, but, on the contrary, give subscribers the right to speak for six minutes, instead of three minutes, at late hours of the evening without additional fee; would he explain why the Post Office treatment of its customers was so much less favourable in this respect than that of the company; and could he hold out any prospect of approximating the practice of the Post Office to that of the company?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension in supposing that the use of the Post Office trunk lines is granted to the subscribers to Post Office exchanges on less favourable terms than to subscribers to exchanges of the National Telephone Company. It is the uniform practice to allow all subscribers after 7.0 p.m. to speak for six minutes on any trunk line for the same fee as is charged for three minutes during the day. The Post Office has established over one thousand exchanges outside the London area, and the great majority are in small places to which the National Telephone Company's system was not extended owing to the small amount of business to be obtained. Wherever it is reasonably practicable to do so a continuous service at night and on Sundays is given to subscribers without extra charge, but when this is not possible it is an advantage for subscribers to have general facilities for night calls on payment of moderate fees for the occasional calls actually made, and such limited arrangements are as the business grows changed into a continuous service of the ordinary kind. It is not intended to alter arrangements for continuous service now in force at exchanges either of the Post Office or of the National Telephone Company, or to limit the extension of such arrangements in future.