HC Deb 22 June 1927 vol 207 cc1849-51
48. Mr. HARRIS

asked the Postmaster-General when the first instalment of the automatic telephone will be ready for use; what is likely to be the cost per telephone installed in London; and whether he is likely to further extend this system?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson)

A large number of automatic telephone exchanges are already working in the provinces. It is hoped to open the first automatic telephone exchange in London during the coming autumn, two others by the end of the year, seven more during 1928, and a large number during succeeding years. The cost of providing telephone service depends largely on the calling rate and the character of the traffic. It is not possible, therefore, to give a representative general figure. Automatic plant involves considerably greater capital outlay than manual equipment.


Is not this system likely to prove very costly in London, owing to the very large range of calling that is available—much more so than in the provinces?


No, I do not think that that is so. It is already working in the provinces in very large areas.

Colonel DAY

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the names of the exchanges which will be converted during the year?


The first will be Holborn, then Bishopsgate, and then Sloane. That is as far as this year is concerned. The first three next year will be Western, Monument, and, I think, Bermondsey.

Commander WILLIAMS

Could the Postmaster-General say where this system was first installed, and where it is working most successfully at the moment?


I could not answer that question without notice.

Colonel DAY

Are any tests being taken on the Holborn exchange, as the telephones are now being fitted all over the area?


Yes, Sir; testing is going on all the time.

49. Colonel APPLIN

asked the Postmaster-General whether he can give the number of extra trunk lines established during the year 1926, and the number of miles of cable purchased by the telephone department of the Post Office during this period?


951 additional trunk circuits were brought into use during 1926, and 390 miles of trunk cable, comprising 67,753 miles of single wire, were purchased and laid.

Colonel APPLIN

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the cable manufacturing companies in the London district has discharged 75 per cent. of its staff in consequence of lack of orders for cables?


I was not aware of those precise facts, but I know there is unemployment in that industry.

50. Colonel APPLIN

asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the delays in trunk calls between London and the West of England due to lack of direct wires; if he can give the number of cables or lines between Exeter and London; and whether steps are being taken to increase these?


I am not aware that under normal conditions trunk calls between London and the West of England suffer undue delay. There are three direct circuits between Exeter and London. This number is adequate for the present traffic, but provision has been made for additional cables to meet future growth.

51. Colonel APPLIN

asked the Postmaster-General whether the whole of the surplus of £550,830 earned by the telephone service is to be devoted to extending the system; and how much he proposes to return to subscribers in the form of reduced charges?


My hon. and gallant Friend is under a misapprehension. Extensions of the telephone service are provided for by means of loans raised under the Telegraph Acts. Last year approximately £11,000,000 was spent on telephone capital works. In proportion to the total revenue, the present surplus represents no more than a working margin, and I am not in a position to contemplate reductions in the tariff.