HC Deb 15 July 1959 vol 609 cc390-1
19. Mr. Cronin

asked the Postmaster-General to what extent it is estimated that total capital expenditure on telephone plant and equipment and telephone buildings in the financial year 1959–60 will differ from that in the financial year 1958–59.

Mr. Marples

It will be about £3 million less.

Mr. Cronin

Is not the situation very unfair to over 140,000 people who are waiting for telephones, a large proportion of whom have no chance of getting a telephone in the immediate future?

Mr. Marples

Not when we bear in mind that even with this expenditure we hope to continue reducing the waiting list, as we have done in the past. It all depends on the demand, and one cannot forecast that. Although we are spending less on some equipment, and the hon. Gentleman's Question pinpoints that, we are spending more in other directions. For instance, in 1959–60 the expenditure on telegraphs is £3.3 million against £1.8 million in 1958–59. One must take regard of the picture as a whole.

Mr. C. R. Hobson

Is not this a very serious statement, in view of the reduction in capital expenditure? To increase the number of telephones will require a lot of new buildings, because the present ones are already full up. Why spend this extra money on the telegraph service, in view of the deficit? Would it not be more sensible to develop the telephone service? Is the Minister aware that we are increasing our telephones in Britain at a slower rate than any country in Europe?

Mr. Marples

The waiting list is less than it has ever been. When the hon. Gentleman talks of expenditure on telegraphs he forgets that Telex, the latest and most modern device for sending messages with the speed of the spoken word and the accuracy of the written word, is included in telegraphs. It is important that the use of Telex in this country and elsewhere should be increased.

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