HC Deb 26 February 1920 vol 125 cc1912-3
43. Mr. HIGHAM

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that the Government does not think it advisable to consider tenders from private sources for the telephone system, he will state what efforts are being made to make the service efficient; when there is a likelihood of the telephone showing profit; and if he will consider the advisability of appointing a committee of business men to go into the reorganistion of the telephone system with the assistance of experts from the United States of America, where the telephone is not only efficient but profitable?


I have been asked to answer this question. The telephone service has shown considerable improvement during the past year, and this improvement may be expected to continue as the average service and experience of the operators increase.

The telephone system, both trunk and local, is being extended as rapidly as plant can be obtained from the contractors, but the latter are still experiencing difficulty in obtaining adequate supplies of material and, in some cases, of labour.

Proposals for raising the telephone tariff, with a view to placing the service on a paying basis, will shortly be completed, and it is intended to submit them to a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

A number of the Post Office engineers and telephone experts recently visited the United States to examine the telephone system in that country, and they report that during the War it suffered from the same difficulties and showed the same deterioration as the service in this country. Other evidence which has appeared in the public press confirms this view, and suggests that the service in the United States has as yet far from recovered.


Is it not a fact that the telephone service in the U.S.A. only deteriorated when the Government took it over?


I think my hon. Friend has just been to the United States, and I think he will agree with what I have said about the present condition, which is the question on the Paper.

Mr. ALFRED DAVIES (Clitheroe)

May I ask if the answer given proves that national ownership of telephones has not been a failure when proper administration is brought to bear?