§ 26. Mr. Day
asked the Postmaster-General, whether he is aware that small signs have been erected recently in the public telephone kiosks in the post office situated in Great Cumberland Place, W.I, with the following wording, "Emergency calls, place two pennies in slot and ask exchange for Fire, Police, and Ambulance"; and, in view of the fact that it is impossible to obtain any reply from the exchange until the coins have been placed in the coin box, will he consider having all telephone kiosks and other similar telephone boxes situated in thickly populated areas fitted with an emergency button.
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Sir Walter Womersley)
The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative, and to the second part in the negative: but I will endeavour to make the matter somewhat clearer to the Hon. Member. The great majority of call offices are connected to exchanges where it is possible to make an emergency call without the insertion of coins. The provision of an "emergency" button in such cases would be useless. The only call offices at which an "emergency" button can serve any useful purpose are those connected to central battery manual exchanges: and in these cases it is necessary to provide costly apparatus at the exchange for each call office from which emegency calls are to be made without insertion of coins. This is done wherever it would meet a genuine need, that is to say at all telephone kiosks in the accepted sense. It would be a waste of money to make such 3509 arrangements in the case of call offices inside a Post Office or other premises where coins could readily be obtained in emergency. Tins applies to the two call offices mentioned by the Hon. Member, which are not kiosks in the accepted sense.
§ Mr. Day
Is the hon. Member aware that all the call offices in the immediate vicinity of the one mentioned in the Question have this sign, and that it is impossible to get through to the exchange without inserting coins in the box? Is he aware that the postmasters and post-mistresses have informed me that there is no way in which you can get an emergency call if you have not the coins in your pocket?
§ Sir W. Womersley
All our outside call boxes have emergency call buttons. The call boxes inside the Post Offices have not these emergency buttons, but if the call is a genuine emergency call, the person making the call can have the twopence back.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Does the Minister mean to suggest that anybody can go into a Post Office and ask for twopence for an emergency call?
§ Sir W. Womersley
I cannot imagine either of the hon. Members not having at least 6d. in his pocket.