HC Deb 23 March 1949 vol 463 cc364-6
38. Commander Maitland

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now give an answer to the letter written to him on 25th January, 1949, by the hon. and gallant Member for the Horncastle Division in regard to Wing-Commander Elliott.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

My reply was sent on 21st March, 1949. I regret that it is not possible, at present, to provide a telephone for Wing-Commander Elliott.

39. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that, owing to the long waiting list for telephones, Regular Army officers, who seldom spend more than two years in one station, are unable to have the use of a telephone and may serve for many years on end without this facility and whether he will review this matter urgently.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

If an applicant for telephone service changes his address before service has been given, the application is carried forward, with the original date, to the new address. Applications from Regular Army officers are accordingly not affected if they change stations in this country. As regards officers and others returning from abroad, I regret that it would be impracticable to give them special priority.

Major Beamish

Is not the Minister aware that these officers start off without having a telephone at all and the result of that is that there is no priority and they may have to serve 10 or 15 years at home without having the use of a telephone?

Mr. Paling

I am sure that my answer indicates that that is not the position.

40. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Postmaster-General what categories of persons are given priority in applications for new telephone installations and extensions.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

Priority for the provision of telephone service is given to essential requirements of Government Departments, public utilities, health and life-saving services, firms engaged on production and distribution for export or for saving imports, and farmers. Subject to these broad categories of priority, business applicants are in general given preference over residential applicants.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

What precisely is meant by firms engaged in the saving of imports? Is it right to give such firms, which might be quite spurious firms and which have only a transient existence, the right of way over Army officers, as referred to in the previous Question, and established and genuine traders?

Mr. Paling

We are, of course, suffering from a shortage, and there is a big waiting list; but we have endeavoured to give priorities on the best possible basis, and in our experience it is working fairly well.

Major Beamish

In view of the unsatisfactory answer to Question No. 40, coupled with the answer to Question No. 39, I beg to give notice that I hope to raise this matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.

41. Major Gates

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the decision taken in the Post Office Telephones, Manchester Area, to place an embargo, as from 1st March, 1949, upon the installation of telephones in residential premises; that at least 25,000 households are affected, including the homes of those who are engaged on essential work in connection with the export drive; and if he will state the reasons for the failure of the Post Office to provide this service.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

In Manchester, and elsewhere, we have had to concentrate our available labour on the provision of telephones urgently required in the national interest. In the Manchester Area, until arrears of essential work are overtaken, we have had temporarily to suspend the completion of any fresh agreements for telephones for purely residential lines.

Major Gates

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long this embargo is to continue?

Mr. Paling

No, Sir.

42. Mr. Janner

asked the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephones have been made since the close of the war to the present date; how many of this number have had telephones installed; and when he expects that the position will become easier.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

Nearly 1,300,000 applications for telephone service were made between 30th September, 1945, and 31st December, 1948. I regret that I cannot say how many of these are included among the 1,100,000 which were met during the same period. I cannot say when the position will become easier.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that amongst the many applicants for telephones whom the right hon. Gentleman categorises as private residents are people who need to use telephones mainly for business and professional purposes, and would he give particular attention to them?

Mr. Paling

If that is so they will get some kind of priority for that reason.