§ 71. Major MOULTON
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that in the case of a telephone service asked for to a farm within two miles of Winters-low post office, Wiltshire, particulars of which were sent to him on the 30th April, a minimum charge of £35 has been asked per annum for a day service only; and whether, in the interests of agriculture, he can see his way to making cheaper arrangements for telephones in rural districts?
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
At present there is no exchange at Winterslow, but I should be prepared to provide one there, charging the rural tariff of £2 a quarter for circuits within 1½ miles of the exchange, or alternatively, to provide a rural party line service at £1 a quarter, if the necessary support were forthcoming. I am informed, however, that at present there is no prospect of the minimum number of eight subscribers being obtained. If a new exchange has to be provided for the benefit of a single subscriber, as in the case to which the hon. Member refers, the cost must necessarily be abnormally high.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Is this another way in which the Government are going to help agriculture?
§ Major MOULTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in all other countries it is realised that cheap telephone facilities are necessary if agriculture is to be carried on successfully?
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
In answer to the hon. and gallant Member opposite, I may say that the rural exchange rates were arranged by the previous Government. I have gone into them very carefully and 218 find that considerable losses are sustained on these services at the present time, and I do not think I should be justified in modifying the charges at present.