HC Deb 18 December 1962 vol 669 cc1064-5
23. Mr. Boardman

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the inadequacy of the three minute unit as the basis for local telephone calls and that business calls by domestic subscribers are now proving more expensive, he will increase the time allowed per unit.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Reginald Bevins)

I am sorry that I am not at the moment in a position to make any statement on this subject.

Mr. Boardman

Is the Postmaster-General aware that many subscribers think it reasonable that local calls should be timed but that the present basis amounts to extortion? In considering any revision will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that at the moment he is perilously near to killing the proverbial goose?

Mr. Bevins

I know the hon. Member's view on this and that it is shared by a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House. As far as possible, I want to give the public what they want and not what I think they should have. Perhaps I can leave it at that for the moment.

Mr. W. R. Williams

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to have a special inquiry made into this matter, because he knows exactly where I stand in regard to my approach to S.T.D.? While there is a growing public feeling that the S.T.D. charges as related to trunk calls are very reasonable, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an inclination for people think that local calls are in a different category, that many people are now being denied the right of reasonable social conversation and that it looks as if the average charge for inland local calls is now about 6d.? That certainly is excessive and will the Postmaster-General look into the Whole situation?

Mr. Bevins

I do not think the final comment made by the hon. Member is quite right. It is the fact that about three-quarters of the local calls on S.T.D. are charged at 2d. at the moment, but that is not to say that there is not a good deal of force in the general contention of the hon. Gentleman, which I shall certainly bear in mind.

Mr. Costain

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of elderly people get a great deal of comfort from using the telephone to talk to their relatives, and that the extra cost is bearing very heavily on them, particularly in Folkestone, and will he give those facts his consideration?

Mr. Bevins

That is one of the factors that is uppermost in my mind.