HC Deb 26 February 1964 vol 690 cc405-6
6. Miss Quennell

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that subscribers on the Petersfield telephone exchange have sometimes to wait over three minutes before obtaining the operator; and what steps he will take to improve the service.

Mr. Bevins

I am sorry that the service at Petersfield is not good, although delays of three minutes or more must be very unusual. More equipment is being provided in the exchange, and this should bring about an improvement within the next few weeks. In addition, I am having an urgent examination made to see whether any other relief measures are possible.

Miss Quennell

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his very satisfactory Answer, may I urge him to remember that in this area there is no 999 emergency service, and that it is through the telephone so often that people in isolated areas have to communicate in an emergency?

Mr. Bevins

Yes. I am aware that a number of the automatic exchanges dependent on the Petersfield exchange for their operators' service already have the 999 service. There should be no delays in handling emergency calls from these exchanges, but we have had some local difficulties, as my hon. Friend knows, at Liss and Privett. We are doing all that we can as a matter of urgency to put it right.

Mr. F. Harris

May I assure my right hon. Friend that waiting as long as three minutes is not unusual? The other day I waited for 80 rings on my telephone before I had a reply. That is not an unusual case. Something ought to be done about this—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that that arises unless the hon. Member's telephone is in Petersfield—and I do not think that it is.