§ 31 and 32. Mr. Watkins
asked the Postmaster-General (1) the charges which are asked of subscribers who live three miles or over from a telephone exchange; when these charges were fixed; how many times they have been reviewed since then; and what recommendations the Post Office Advisory Committee have made to reduce these charges;
§ (2) whether he has yet reviewed the charges which are made upon telephone subscribers who live three miles or over from a telephone exchange; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Marples
For exclusive lines, the present extra quarterly charge is 10s. for each furlong beyond three miles from the exchange; for shared lines the rate is 5s. per furlong. These charges were put before the House in July, 1957, and introduced on 1st October, 1957. The charges do not fully cover the costs of these long lines. On the other hand, I think it would be unreasonable to allow the whole of the extra costs to fall on telephone users generally.
460 Although the matter has been before the Post Office Advisory Council it has made no recommendation.
§ Mr. Watkins
Is the Postmaster-General aware that at the annual meeting of the Women's Institutes recently a resolution on the subject from Breconshire was unanimously carried? In view of such resolutions carried outside Parliament and representations which I have continually made, why cannot he has some regard to the need to reduce the charges, the size of which adds to rural depopulation?
§ Mr. Marples
Many resolutions are passed transferring the burden of charge from the persons passing the resolution to someone else. It would be difficult for the Post Office to meet all these charges. A survey was made of the cost of providing these lines in 1955 and it showed that the annual charges for maintenance, interest on capital and depreciation varied between £16 and £29 per mile. We charge only 10s. a furlong, which is not unreasonable.