HC Deb 23 January 1962 vol 652 cc9-10
18. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Postmaster-General, whether emergency calls from country telephone subscribers, obliged to dial O in order to make them, have been delayed by the policy of work-to-rule; and what effect it has had on the time taken for a call to reach the police, fire and ambulance services.

Mr. Bevins

I am glad to say that the telephone service has not been significantly affected by work-to-rule, and I have no knowledge of any delays to emergency calls of the type mentioned by my hon. Friend. If, however, he has any particular case in mind and will let me have details I should be very glad to make inquiries.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Can my right hon. Friend explain how such callers in need of the fire brigade or the ambulance or police are given priority over callers who merely want a gossip?

Mr. Bevins

Whether or not we had working-to-rule in operation at the moment, it would still be necessary on certain exchanges for a person wanting to make an emergency call to dial O. It is after a caller has dialled O and the operator knows that the call is an emergency call that priority is given.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman, in the light of his hon. Friend's supplementary question, consider further whether it is possible for this way of signalling for priority and emergency services to be introduced on private telephones and even on manual exchanges?

Mr. Bevins

Yes, most certainly, we are moving in that direction all the time.