HC Deb 15 July 1913 vol 55 cc1067-9

asked the Postmaster-General whether he can yet furnish any information as to the circumstances surrounding the case of a lady who endeavoured to ring up 657 Western, in order to give a call for a doctor, but was, after considerable delay, cut off from communication before a reply could be received, into which he promised, on 24th June last, to make inquiry?


The telephonist who dealt with this call states that she answered the call as soon as the signal was received, but had some difficulty in hearing what the subscriber said, and, afterwards, in replying, owing to the fact that the subscriber continued to agitate the receiver hook. When she succeeded in ascertaining the required number a satisfactory conversation was held, although the called subscriber took some time to answer. It is understood that the doctor received the message and at once visited his patient, and it is thought that the communication was severed by the doctor, who, having received the message, replaced the telephone on the hook. The suggestion in a paragraph in the "Daily Mail" that the patient died owing to the failure to secure the attention of the doctor on the telephone is untrue. The call was not well handled by the telephonist, and she has accordingly been seriously reprimanded.


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a subscriber, No. 5273 Mayfair, endeavouring to call No. 4321 Gerrard, a private branch exchange, on Saturday, 5th July, was unable to obtain any reply from the Mayfair exchange for a considerable time; that after giving the number another three minutes elapsed, at the end of which the subscriber asked for an explanation of the delay and was requested by the exchange to repeat the number, no explanation being given; that the number was only finally obtained by application to the clerk in charge; and that the subscriber's request that the facts be investigated and an explanation given has been disregarded; and whether he will cause an immediate inquiry to be made into the circumstances?


I find that two unsuccessful attempts were made by the telephonist of Mayfair Telephone Exchange to connect No. 5273 Mayfair with No. 4321 Gerrard. The subscriber was then connected to the Enquiry Desk in the Mayfair Exchange and the connection was made. Although the most careful inquiries have been made, it has not been possible to discover the precise reason for the failure of the first two calls. The Supervising Officer at Mayfair pursued the matter further with Gerrard Exchange and subsequently rang up the subscriber to explain what had been done, but he had in the meantime left the premises. The matter was then referred to the officer in control of the Exchange, who, unfortunately, overlooked the request for a written reply.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it would not have been necessary for me to have troubled him at all if any explanation had been sent by the Exchange?


Yes. I am very sorry that was overlooked in this case owing, I am told, to pressure of work, but it ought not to have been overlooked.