HC Deb 05 May 1948 vol 450 cc1258-60
39. Mrs. Castle

asked the Postmaster-General on what basis he allocates telephones among applicants in any particular area; whether he operates a points system in deciding the priority to be given to applicants; and to what extent business needs are taken into account.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

As I explained in my reply on r8th December, 1947, to the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) and on 30th January last when I introduced the Post Office and Telegraph Money Bill, priority is given to certain categories of subscriber for whom telephone service is regarded as essential in the public interest. Business applicants not in these categories are in general given preference over residential applicants. The idea of a points system has been carefully examined, but is considered impracticable for deciding relative priorities for telephone service.

Mrs. Castle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when subscribers move to a new area and wish to transfer their telephone they are in every case told that the senior awaiting applicant has priority? Does this mean that the first person on the list has priority regardless of the fact that the telephone may be needed for business purposes?

Mr. Paling

Business people have priority over residential subscribers in any case.

Mr. Leslie Hale

Can my right hon. Friend tell us what priority is given under this system for a person who have been serving abroad continuously for six years, who has had no opportunity of applying for a telephone, and now makes application for one?

Mr. Paling

If a person had been serving abroad for six years and because of that, might have had to give up his telephone, he would have priority. Disabled ex-Service men have some priority also.

Mr. Price-White

Is any preference or priority given to business or private users who take over properties or premises in which a telephone is already installed; or is it at all times insisted that the telephone should be first removed and that the persons then take their place on the list?

Mr. Paling

Because there is a telephone in either an office or a house into which a person moves it does not necessarily mean that he will have the telephone that is already there. There may be a person on the list whose claim is much stronger, and in such cases the telephone would be removed.

Mr. Bramall

Would my right hon. Friend make known to the public the categories which his Department consider to have priority, in order that the applicants themselves may know that the allocation is fair between one individual and another?

Mr. Paling

That has been done on one or two occasions.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Will the Postmaster-General explain why, when a person moves out of a house, the telephone is taken away and, when the next tenant comes in, another telephone is installed? Would it not be much easier to leave it where it was in the first place?

Mr. Paling

If the hon. Member knows of such a case I should like to hear about it. I have not heard of one.

Mr. Keeling

Under the system described by the Postmaster-General might there not be so many men engaged in taking away telephones that there would not be any left to put them in?

Mr. Paling

The matter of taking a telephone out is not, as some people seem to imagine, a matter of days or weeks.