HC Deb 12 February 1929 vol 225 cc217-8
39. Sir R. THOMAS

asked the Postmaster-General what number and percentage of girls employed in telephone exchanges in London during the past year have been recorded as suffering from nervous complaints, slight or serious; what is the maximum continuous period of duty during the busy hours of the day; and what is the maximum number of lines allotted to one attendant?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson)

The answer is rather long and involves a number of figures. With the hon. Baronet's permission, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Will the right hon. Gentleman state briefly whether he finds there are any of these complaints?


Yes, there are a certain number.


Can the right hon. Gentleman account for the somewhat irritable disposition of some of these ladies?

Following is the answer:

A considerable amount of time and labour would he required to furnish the information asked by the hon. Baronet; but I am in a position to give corresponding figures for 1926. In that year, out of 79,712 days of sick leave taken by London telephonists, 4,913 days were attributed to neurasthenia, nervous debility, nervous exhaustion, nervous shock and neurosis, 385 days to neuritis, 1,592 days to neuralgia. The total number of telephonists employed was 7,051; but there is no record of the number of telephonists who were absent on account of these disorders. The normal maximum continuous period of duty cover- ing the busy hours of the day is 3½ hours. This is sometimes extended to four hours: but the duty in either case includes some time outside the busy period. The number of lines allocated to any one operator varies from 60 to 260, the average number being 120.