HC Deb 27 November 1933 vol 283 cc508-11

asked the Postmaster-General if he can give comparable figures showing telephone rental charges in Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States of America, and Sweden, and the number of telephones per 1,000 persons in those countries, respectively; and whether he is contemplating any reduction in the present charges for telephone rentals in this country?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir Kingsley Wood)

As the reply to the first and second parts of my hon. Friend's question includes a number of figures, 1 will, with his permission, circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the third part, I cannot say more at present than that the question of reducing charges is under constant review.


Will the Minister consider investigating what increases in the number of telephone subscribers might be expected to follow from halving the existing rental charges?


That suggestion has not, I can assure my hon. Friend, been overlooked.

Following is the information:

Telephone charges in force in Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and the United States.

The telephone charges in one country are not readily comparable with those of another because of the different conditions associated with these charges, for example, the number of calls covered by the annual charge, the mileage up to which the minimum charge applies, hours and other conditions of service, cost of labour and materials, wayleave conditions, internal purchasing power of money, etc.

To give full tables of all the various classes and groups of charges in force in all the areas of the countries above mentioned would fill many pages. In the following tables are given the principal rates in force in the large cities and moderate-sized towns. The rates quoted are shown on an annual basis, and are converted to sterling at par of exchange.

Great Britain. —Message rates only in force.

Business Premises. Residences.
£ s. d. £ s. d.
London 8 0 0 6 10 0
Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool 7 10 0 6 0 0
Other districts 7 0 0 5 10 0
Outgoing local calls Id. each.

France.—Message rates only in force. Places with

  1. (A) over 20,000 subscribers, 600 francs (£5).
  2. (B) 2,001–20,000 subscribers, 400 francs (£3 6s. 8d.).
  3. (C) 51–2,000 subscribers, 250 francs (£2 2s.).

Plus a charge per call of 50 centimes.

Germany. —Message rate only in force. Places with

Charge per local call 10 pf. (10 to a shilling).

In all cases there is an installation charge founded on the actual cost of work (apparently between distributing point and subscriber's premises).

Sweden.—Measured rates.

  1. A. Stockholm and Goteberg—
  2. B. Exchanges with extended area (i.e. the next largest towns)—

Initial charge, 25 kronor = £1 8s. ld.

United States.— A general conspectus of the rates in force in the United States is even more difficult than in other cases as there are some 25 companies associated with the Bell Telephone system (American Telephone and Telegraph Company) operating over 13,000,000 telephones and, in addition, there are about 8,000 independent companies operating nearly four million telephones.

The Bell companies' rates differ considerably in different towns and moreover in each town there are several grades of rates.

For instance New York is divided into 15 zones in which various rates apply. The business connection rate in the principal inner zones is $6 (21 4s. 6d.) a month including 75 calls or 72 dollars (214 15s. 11d.) a year with 900 calls. The residence rate is $4.25 (17s. 6d.) including 66 calls (or £10 9s. 7d. a year with 792 calls). Each outgoing call above this number costs 5 cents (2½d.) up to the number of 200 a month, afterwards decreasing in price, calls above the number of 900 per month being charged at 3.75 cents each.

Initial installation charges varying from 8 (Business) and 5 dollars (Residence) in New York down to $3.50 elsewhere are levied by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Telephone Density.

According to the latest available information the number of telephones per 1,000 inhabitants in the foregoing countries is:

United States 143
Sweden 93
Great Britain 46.3
Germany 45.7
France 30