HC Deb 30 July 1958 vol 592 cc1330-1
9. Mrs. Hill

asked the Postmaster-General if he has now considered the Report of the Committee he appointed in December, 1957, to advise him on the future telegraph service; and if he will publish the report, and make a statement on the matter.

Mr. K. Thompson

Yes, Sir. In its Report, the Committee endorses the continuance of a nation-wide inland telegraph service. It regards it as an essential, although shrinking, part of our communication facilities, while recognising that a substantial deficit is unavoidable. It makes certain suggestions about future policy, including possible ways of reducing the deficit.

My right hon. Friend welcomes this opportunity of thanking Sir Leonard Sinclair and the members of his Committee for undertaking this inquiry. The Committee's Report is most valuable, and its recommendations are being carefully considered by my right hon. Friend. Meantime, I propose to arrange for the Report to be published.

Mrs. Hill

While thanking the Assistant Postmaster-General for that reply, may I ask him whether he can tell us if he has any forecast of increased charges as a result of this Report?

Mr. Thompson

I should not like the House to think that we are about to increase telegraph charges as a result of anything that is said in this Report. There are a number of recommendations made by the Committee, and we intend to consider them, but I do not think the House need be alarmed that there is any immediate prospect of increased telegraph charges.

Mr. C. R. Hobson

When the hon. Gentleman says that he will publish the Report, does that mean that it will be a Parliamentary Paper or that he will merely place it in the Library?

Mr. Thompson

No; we shall publish it as a Parliamentary Paper, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will obtain a copy.

Mr. Ross

Do I understand from the hon. Gentleman's reply to the original Question that he has considered the Report? If so, why is he so reluctant to tell us about the conclusions which the Postmaster-General has come to in relation to the future of telegraph charges?

Mr. Thompson

I thought it would be for the convenience of the House and perhaps for the information of all Members of the House if they were to read the Report first.

Mr. Ness Edwards

May we have an undertaking from the hon. Gentleman that no action will be taken on the Report until the House has had a chance of discussing it?

Mr. Thompson

That would be going altogether too far, and is perhaps unreasonable. There may be some recommendations in the Report which we could take up immediately, without running into danger of offending any hon. Members.

Mr. Ness Edwards

As the telegraph system is run on the basis of Statutory Orders, may we take it that no action will be taken without the authority of Parliament?

Mr. Thompson

That is an entirely different matter from the right hon. Gentleman's first supplementary question.

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