HC Deb 26 April 1961 vol 639 c394
4. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Postmaster-General why he has decided to refuse all advertisements of commercial firms for the front covers of telephone directories; and if he will set a time limit to this policy.

Mr. Bevins

I decided on this change of policy on two grounds. Firstly, it seems right that this page—the most convenient page for subscribers—should be used to draw the attention of the public to particular telephone services and facilities; and, secondly, it improves the typographical layout.

The answer to the second part of the Question is, "No, Sir".

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Would my right hon. Friend say how much revenue he is losing by this policy? Has it not been adopted to boost a service which is fairly well-known? Does not he feel that he is being rather unkind to some firms which have advertised for many years on the front page of the telephone directories and which have had such short, peremptory notice that their advertisements can no longer be accepted?

Mr. Bevins

I am sorry if my hon. and gallant Friend feels that I have been unfair to certain of our long-standing advertisers, but, in fact, we gave, in the main, about six months' notice of this change of policy. I think that, generally speaking, it has been accepted.

Concerning the general question of whether we are right in making this change, I am certain in my own mind that we are right. There is a great deal of public ignorance about certain elementary telephone facilities. For example, about one-third of our sub scribers do not know when the cheap rate begins and ends. I think that we are well justified in sacrificing a matter of £20,000 a year in order to let them have that information.

Mr. W. R. Williams

The right hon. Gentleman's decision will meet with full approval from this side of the House.