HC Deb 15 February 1961 vol 634 cc1383-4
13. Mr. Grimond

asked the Postmaster-General when he intends to extend the radius of the 4d. call, especially in rural areas and among islands.

Mr. Bevins

The area covered by the local call was greatly enlarged in 1958 to include many places to which calls were previously charged 6d., 9d., and 1s. Telephone users in rural areas and on Islands benefited from these reductions. The local call area is now greater than in almost any other country in the world, and I have no present plans to extend it further.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Postmaster-General aware that his answer will give considerable dissatisfaction in my constituency because, while we are grateful for what has been done, we were promised by his predecessor that this was only a first step and that he had plans for extending still further the local call area, which would have been much appreciated? Does he appreciate that in certain islands this is a matter of some concern to local people, whose only link is by telephone and who unfortunately are now outside the radius?

While we do not deny that the improvements made are important and welcome, we had hoped from his predecessor's assurance that this was a first step and meant that the project was going to pass on to the second stage.

Mr. Bevins

The extension of the local call area was from an average of 80 square miles to an average of 900 square miles. People in the North of Scotland, and, indeed, in the Islands. have benefited from that change. If the hon. Member has any particular problem in the Islands—and I can see there are problems—I will gladly look into them.

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