HC Deb 13 July 1960 vol 626 cc1386-7
32. Mr. David James

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will consider installing an emergency number such as 999 on all rural telephone exchanges.

Miss Pike

The Post Office has gone a long way towards this, but we cannot complete the process until all telephone exchanges are automatic. We are converting manual exchanges as quickly as our resources allow. The 999 service is available to 92 per cent. of automatic telephones, including many in rural areas. For technical reasons I am afraid we cannot provide it at those automatic exchanges connected to manual exchanges where the equipment design is not suitable for the 999 service.

Mr. James

While thanking my hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask her to bear in mind that lonely people in isolated cottages and farms in the country regard the telephone as their lifeline, and that in the event of fire, sudden accident or, above all, burglary, the absence of an immediate answer from the exchange, which they do not get on manual exchanges, removes a very great element of security?

Miss Pike

I assure my hon. Friend that I will bear that in mind. As a matter of fact, at the week-ends I come into that category.