HC Deb 03 November 1954 vol 532 cc353-4
2. Mr. Hale

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that an important all-night garage in Oldham is still unable to obtain a full telephone service, owing to the economy cuts made in Post Office development expenditure; and whether he will now take the necessary steps towards maintaining adequate telephone development services.

Mr. Gammans

The garage, which already has shared service, will be given an exclusive line when new cables can be laid, but this cannot be done for some time. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that whilst the Post Office, like other organisations, has not obtained all the capital it would wish, there has been no cut: on the contrary, the investment for telephone development has risen from £41 million in 1950–51 to over £79 million in 1955–56. Our first priority must be to give service where none at all exists at present.

Mr. Hale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am getting more complaints now from Oldham than any time since I have been a Member of the House? [Laughter.] I am much obliged; they are not about me but about the Government, and, in particular, complaints about the Post Office and the Assistant Postmaster-General. Is he aware that only this week I had from a main street of Oldham, Huddersfield Road, a complaint about the absence of telephone facilities? What is the hon. Gentleman doing about it, and will he bear in mind that the fate that awaits Ministers who do not stand up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been evidenced in the last week or so?

Mr. Gammans

I think we have stood up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—if that is the right word—with some success because we have got our allocation nearly doubled within the past five years. There has been an extraordinary rise in demand, and I think the House will be interested to know that the rise in demand in the past year has been no less than 70,000.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the hon. Gentleman rather complacent, and is it not a fact that the telephone demand is going up and up, and that the allocation of capital is still not adequate to meet the demand? Will he press the Treasury to release the Post Office from these restrictions?

Mr. Gammans

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am not in the least complacent, and I should be delighted to spend more money, if more were available.