HC Deb 07 March 1946 vol 420 cc474-7
3. Captain Francis Noel-Baker

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when he will install the dial system at Chiswick telephone exchange.

Mr. Burke

A new building will be needed, and I regret that I am unable to say at present when it will be completed.

Captain Noel-Baker

Then would my hon. Friend consider increasing the staff at Chiswick telephone exchange, and would he also consider coming with me to Chiswick and trying to put through two or three telephone calls? I think it might change his ideas on the subject.

7. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the present form in which telephone accounts are issued to subscribers is drawn up in such a manner that the accounts are difficult to comprehend and compare most unfavourably with accounts rendered by ordinary business firms; and when he anticipates that it will be possible to issue these accounts in a more satisfactory form.

Mr. Burke

No, Sir. The form in which telephone accounts are issued to subscribers has in general proved acceptable to them.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that accounts are rendered on a number of sheets, that the month is not entered at the head of each, nor is the total entered at the foot of each and carried on to the next sheet? Are not clarity and the convenience of subscribers at least as important as the convenience of the Post Office?

Mr. Burke

I never find any difficulty in understanding the account. I sometimes find difficulty in paying it.

Mr. McGovern

Is the Minister aware that these documents are very confusing? I never completely check them. I think it is better to pay them than to try to check them.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Can the hon. Gentleman say when it will be possible to return to the quarterly basis of rendering these accounts, instead of half-yearly, as at present?

Mr. Burke

That is a question of staff.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

In the meantime, cannot the account be rendered on a single sheet instead of several? Is it necessary to have this duplication of sheets?

Mr. Burke

They are prepared mechanically, with trunk calls and other items on separate sheets.

Sir G. Jeffreys

If I show the hon. Gentleman one of these accounts will he examine it, and will he, I wonder, be of the same opinion after he has examined it?

8. Squadron-Leader Segal

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many new telephones were installed in Preston during 1945; how many applications for telephones were on the Preston waiting list on 31st December, 1945; and by what date he proposes to have the installation of these telephones completed.

Mr. Burke

Just over 1,000 telephones were installed during 1945, and 1,358 applications were on the waiting list on 31st December, 1945. The average monthly figure of telephones installed had increased to 114 during the four months October, 1945, to January, 1946, and will increase further as more staff becomes available. It is not yet possible to say when the heavy arrears of work, which exist in Preston as in many other parts of the country, can be overtaken, particularly in view of the large current demand for telephone service—which in January, 1946, was double the pre-war demand. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer given on 24th January last to the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Neal) as regards the measures being taken to meet the situation.

12. Mr. Osborne

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware that applications. as far back as 16th July, 1945, have been made to his Lincoln office to have a telephone installed at 64, Clifton Road, Grimsby, for the use of a national newspaper representative, to whom a telephone is necessary; and what action is he taking in the matter.

Mr. Burke

Yes, Sir. Service would have been provided for this applicant in October last, but the work has been held up by the refusal of the Grimsby Corporation to grant consent for the erection of two poles needed to carry the wires. The Corporation has refused consent for poles required to serve other subscribers also, and the matter will be discussed with them shortly.

Mr. Osborne

Is the Minister aware that this matter has been brought up in a sub-committee of Grimsby Corporation, and it was denied that the fault was theirs? In view of the fact that it is necessary for this man to have a telephone to earn his living, can something be done for him?

Mr. Burke

We are most anxious to do something quickly but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the difficulty does lie in getting agreement with the Corporation.

Mr. Kinley

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is time that these poles were done away with, and the wires put underground?

Mr. Burke

Yes, but it is a costly and slow process.

15. Squadron-Leader Segal

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the view, widely prevalent in certain parts of the country, that applicants for telephones who write to their Members of Parliament regarding delays in installation are placed at the bottom of the waiting list; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent the occurrence of such a practice.

Mr. Burke

I am not aware that such an idea is widely prevalent; but in any case it is absolutely unfounded. The last part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the Minister make it equally clear there is nothing to be gained by writing to Members of Parliament, otherwise we should be flooded with letters?

Mr. Burke

Every case is judged on its merits.

Squadron-Leader Segal

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that letters to this effect have appeared in reputable national newspapers, including the "Manchester Guardian "?

Mr. Burke

Yes, Sir, I saw the letter and it has been replied to. I know the individual.