HC Deb 22 January 1918 vol 101 cc816-7

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the state of chaos and confusion existing in his Department, entailing inconvenience upon the public; whether he is aware that letters posted in one district of London sometimes occupy two and three days to reach the addressee in another adjoining district of London; whether he is aware that letters from Liverpool on which an extra charge has been paid for express delivery and to ensure certain delivery are sometimes not delivered for many hours after letters posted at the same time in Liverpool to the same address by ordinary postage have been delivered; whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused to the public by the inattention of telephone operators in not responding to calls made upon their exchange, connecting subscribers with wrong numbers, saying numbers are engaged when they are not engaged, that they can get no answer, whilst the person rung up is waiting at his telephone for a communication, ringing up subscribers when they are not wanted, sometimes in the middle of the night, and various other annoyances; and whether he will take steps to remedy these defects in his Department?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Illingworth)

Everything possible is being done to prevent delays in the post, but I fear they are sometimes inevitable under existing conditions. They are often due to causes over which the Post Office has no control. With regard to the hon. Member's complaint of defective telephone operating, the service is being carried on under great difficulties, and occasional inconvenience must occur.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that sometimes as much as one and two hours per day are lost by heads of businesses, largely engaged in work of national importance, through the causes mentioned in the question? In time of war is not greater efficiency required than in time of peace?


I think my reply covers all the points raised by the hon. Gentleman's question.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of giving the telephone operators a number, so that in the event of complaint they can give the number, instead of changing their voice and speaking as the clerk in charge?