HC Deb 28 October 1953 vol 518 cc2781-2
23. Sir F. Messer

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware that 500 men will be declared redundant at the Southgate works of the Standard Telephone Company in consequence of the cancellation of orders by the General Post Office; and if he will take steps to withdraw this cancellation, in view of the need for more telephone installations.

Mr. Gammans

I fear that the hon. Member has been misinformed, as there has been no cancellation of Post Office orders with this company. The exchange equipment industry has urged my noble Friend to increase Post Office purchases, but our restricted capital expenditure has to be balanced between exchange equipment and local cables and stores and buildings. It is shortage of the other plant and new buildings rather than exchange equipment which prevents us putting in telephones more rapidly than we can at present.

Sir F. Messer

Is it not obvious that if these orders could continue, the equipment could be made and would then be ready when the exchanges are built. whereas now we have to wait for the exchanges to be built and then wait for the equipment to be made?

Mr. Gammans

That is not so. First of all, I must correct the implication in the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Question. There has been no cancellation of Post Office orders. As to the other point he raises, we must keep a balance between the various sorts of equipment which are required as we increase the number of telephones.

Mr. Hobson

Will the hon. Gentleman make representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to removing the capital investment ban on new telephone exchanges?

Mr. Gammans

I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be prepared to remove the capital investment ban on any one item in particular. Actually in this present year the amount we are spending is larger than it was last year.

Mr. Lee

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that instead of preserving a balance, he is going to unbalance a team who have been working together in this firm, and once the team has been dispersed there is no chance of getting them together again?

Mr. Gammans

If it is a fact that this company is going to throw men off, it is not due to any cancellation of Post Office orders.