§ 83. Wing-Commander Cooper
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how soon now does he anticipate being able to replace the shortage of operators which causes delay in the toll and trunk telephone services; and when does he propose to restore the cheap trunk call rate now in force between 6.30 and 9.30 p.m. to the whole night period as previously.
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr.Burke)
Although the recruitment of telephone operators has improved considerably during the past few weeks, the volume of traffic is also rising, and I am not yet able to say when the shortage will be made good. In London, where the shortage is most acute, the Post Office is now recruiting and training new operators at the rate of about 200 a week —a net increase of approximately 100 operators a week. The release from the Forces in Class B of about 300 female telephonists has been agreed by the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and my Department has approached the Ministry for the release in Class B of all male night telephonists. I am hopeful, therefore, that the recent improvement in the staffing position will be maintained and that still further improvement will be shown after Christmas.
With regard to the second part of the Question, no extension of the cheap trunk rates beyond 9.30 p.m. can be considered until the existing shortage is made good, and until there are sufficient trained men available to cope with the additional traffic which would be attracted.
§ Wing-Commander Cooper
Does not my hon. Friend think that an improvement in the public services of his Department would give great encouragement to those who believe in the efficacy of various forms of nationalisation?
§ Mr. Bossom
Can the hon. Gentleman state whether the service is paying for itself this time, or whether it is getting a subsidy from some other source?
§ Lieut-Commander Braithwaite
Will the Minister now resume the system of publishing the telephone and telegraph accounts?