HC Deb 18 December 1963 vol 686 cc1233-4
31. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Postmaster-General how much of the proposed £900 million to be invested in the inland telephone service in the next five years will be invested in Scotland.

Mr. Mawby

On present estimates, based on the expected demand for telephone service, about 8 per cent. of the total will be invested in the telephone service in Scotland.

Mr. Hamilton

Does that mean that the figure of 1½ per cent. per year over these years which the hon. Gentleman gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) last week will remain at that level? If so, it is an extremely unsatisfactory position for Scotland.

Mr. Mawby

As I said, that is our basis on present estimates, but, obviously, if we can make any progress in this respect we will certainly do so.

Miss Harvie Anderson

Can my hon. Friend say whether that figure includes cables? Is it not a fact that an increasing proportion of Post Office cables, excluding paper-cored insulated cables, is being made in Scotland, particularly in the Renfrew, East constituency, which is in a development district?

Mr. Mawby

It is quite true that Scottish Cables Limited are making a considerable amount. [HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"] I cannot give the exact amount without notice.

Mr. Mason

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Scotland is in need of better treatment than this? Since 1955, Scotland has badly lagged behind in telephone developments compared with England and Wales, and particularly Northern Ireland. It has the lowest rate of growth in terms of telephone penetration and the engineering force has grown much more slowly than elsewhere. Will the hon. Gentleman therefore consider making a sales drive to stimulate demand in Scotland? If it is successful, Scotland may be able to take a bigger proportion of the planned investment.

Mr. Mawby

We are running a sales drive throughout the country and not just in Scotland, but obviously the spread of the use of the telephone is tied up with a number of other things. Naturally, we want to get all these problems put right. When we do, greater use of the telephone will automatically follow.

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