HC Deb 23 July 1963 vol 681 cc1243-4
17. Mr. Mathew

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now reconsider his decision to remove the public telephone kiosk at Harcombe, Sidbury, Devon; and what the distance is from there to the nearest public telephone which it is not his intention to remove in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Bevins

No, Sir. I am sorry that I cannot justify the retention of this kiosk which is now used for only three or four calls a week. The nearest kiosk, which I am not proposing to remove, is just over a mile away.

Mr. Mathew

Will not my right hon. Friend reconsider the whole of the Post Office's policy of withdrawing uneconomic telephones from the more isolated rural communities? Will he bear in mind that the telephone is the only link in an emergency with such a community, and that other Departments and authorities are making great efforts to bring services to the countryside—including electricity and water—even where it is uneconomic, in order to stop the drift from the land?

Mr. Bevins

It is quite untrue that the Post Office is withdrawing large numbers of telephone kiosks from rural areas. In fact, the movement is in the opposite direction. In the case referred to by my my hon. Friend, the kiosk produces a revenue of about £4 a year and costs about £60 to maintain. I think that it is right to remove it in these circumstances, especially as more than 60 per cent. of the houses in the village are on the telephone.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman take it that it is the general view of the House that there is a very urgent necessity for the Post Office to consider the social needs of rural communities? To say that another telephone is only a mile away from the kiosk does not seem to meet the situation his hon. Friend has mentioned. Will he, therefore, review his policy because this service is urgently necessary in rural areas?

Mr. Bevins

There is no need for a review of policy. Without fear of contradiction, I say that the Post Office pays far more regard to the social needs of people in scattered areas than any other department in public life.

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