HC Deb 11 December 1963 vol 686 cc378-80
10. Mr. A. Evans

asked the Postmaster-General the number of telephone fault 5 reported, for comparable periods during the years 1952–62, inclusive.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Reginald Bevins)

There are no statistics for the years prior to 1956. I will, with permission, circulate the figures for subsequent years in the Official Report. They show a progressive improvement.

Mr. Evans

In thanking the Postmaster-General for that reply and for the figures which he is circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT, may I ask whether he is satisfied that the efficiency of this section of his Department is as high and sustained as it might be?

Mr. Bevins

I am never satisfied with anything, but about 77 per cent. of faults are cleared on the day they are reported.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a lot of complaint in the London area about no pick-up calls, particularly in the telephone area in my constituency? Is he aware that these things do not get reported and that, therefore, unless the maintenance is very good, there is no way of having it put right?

Mr. Bevins

I have that matter under consideration.

Following are the figures:

The following figures show the number of reports made to the fault repair service and the average number of reports per telephone during the period 1956–1962. inclusive.

Year ending 31st December Total Reports Average Reports per Telephone
1956 9,140,000 1.34
1957 8,950,000 1.25
1958 9,050,000 1.24
1959 8,890,000 1.19
1960 9,200,000 1.18
1961 9,360,000 1.14
1962 9,730,000 1.14

11. Mr. A. Evans

asked the Postmaster-General to what extent telephone subscribers are reimbursed for periods when their telephones are out of order.

Mr. Bevins

Subscribers are not entitled to reimbursement for periods when their telephones are out of order, but telephone managers have discretion to make rebates in individual cases. More than three-quarters of all faults are cleared on the day they are reported; most of those carried over are reported late in the day and are cleared on the following day. If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind I will gladly look into it.

Mr. Evans

Is the Minister aware that there appears to be an increasing number of faults which are not remedied within the 24 hours? Will he remember, first, his monopoly position in this respect and that it is his business to satisfy subscribers as far as possible? Will he also bear in mind that the telephone is becoming indispensable to more and more people as each month passes? Will he try to make certain that the reliability of his service is attended to with the same care with which he attends to the promotion of technical improvements?

Mr. Bevins

Yes. I have all those considerations in mind, but the fact is that the proportion of faults which are reported is falling constantly.

Mr. Mason

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the matter and try to make telephone rental reimbursement an established practice? Is he not aware that because of the rapid change-over which is now taking place from manual to automatic exchanges, some subscribers suffer long delays for engineering maintenance because many of the lines are temporarily out of order? Secondly, there may be branches of a union which occasionally might be working to rule. This is not the fault of the subscribers but, nevertheless, their telephones may be delayed unnecessarily for repair. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a shortage of 500 in the technical grades in London and that more are required in those grades in the provinces and that, therefore, until the situation is rectified, reimbursement for telephone rentals should be a recognised practice when the delay is unusually long?

Mr. Bevins

I am aware of all those factors. From the viewpoint of a residential telephone, however, the value is less than 1s. a day and to give rebates automatically would increase our costs out of all proportion to the amounts involved.

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