HC Deb 23 July 1963 vol 681 cc1246-7
30. Mr. Cleaver

asked the Postmaster-General what has been the increase in the number of telephones since 1951; and how many new telephone subscribers have been connected in 1963.

Mr. Bevins

On 31st March, 1951, there were about 5½ million telephones in this country. There are now 9 million. Nearly 225,000 lines have been connected in the first six months of this year.

Mr. Cleaver

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that it shows an increase of some 70 per cent, and is very creditable? Can he say how the figures compare with those for other European countries?

Mr. Bevins

The percentage increase in comparison with some European countries is low, but the 1951 base for European countries was very different from that for this country. We have more telephones than any other country with the single exception of the United States of America.

Mr. Mason

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even though he says that only 44,000 are on the waiting list, 3,600 have been waiting for a telephone connection for more than two years and that nearly 1 million people have shared line services, which conceals the waiting list of those who want single services? Is he further aware that he is evading this problem by agreeing to more shared lines and that in 1962 22 per cent. of all new residential connections were on shared lines? This is not much progress.

Mr. Bevins

I am not evading anything. The telephone service has developed more in the last few years than at any time in our history. The capital moneys sunk into the service in the last four years have risen by as much as 50 per cent.