HC Deb 23 July 1963 vol 681 cc1238-9
4. Mr. W. T. Rodgers

asked the Post master-General what is the maximum delay that a subscriber on a London exchange should expect to experience in dialling 100 at an off-peak period; and what instructions are given to operators in dealing with calls in cases when this delay has occurred.

Mr. Mawby

In normal conditions most calls are answered within 10 seconds, but I am sorry that at off-peak periods when fewer operators are on duty the risk of delays from sudden rushes of traffic is greater than at the busier times of the day. Operators are instructed to be helpful and courteous, and to apologise where delays are known to have occurred.

Mr. Rodgers

Does the Parliamentary Secretary appreciate that it is very disturbing news that at off-peak periods when we are being encouraged to make telephone calls we are likely to experience long delays? Is he aware that although he promised me earlier this year that there would be a noticeable improvement in my own home telephone service on the Gulliver Exchange, I am regularly still subject to delays of up to five minutes? If this experience is shared by others, does not he think that it causes grave inconvenience and makes nonsense of his slogan which he is now advertising that "An evening call brings you together"?

Mr. Mawby

I have no information to the effect that there are regularly lapses of up to five minutes. As I said, during peaks there are these difficulties, and, in fact, on the evening showing as against the day showing we find that during the day the particular exchange is a little quicker than the regional average and that in the evening it is a little slower. It is only a matter of seconds. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman must have struck some very bad periods of the day in order to have had this continuing problem. Nevertheless, we are looking at this problem and are doing everything possible to make certain that at whatever time of the day or night there is a call it will be attended to at the earliest possible moment.