HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 c408
56. Mr. Rose

asked the Postmaster-General what progress has been made with the experiment in providing a low cost communication system to help the elderly, disabled and housebound.

Mr. Benn

So far two elderly housebound people in Manchester have been successfully connected with near neighbours, and we have equipment for a further thirty-eight for the experiment. The North Western Electricity Board, Manchester Corporation Welfare Services Department, and the Post Office Engineering Union are co-operating in the experiment.

Mr. Rose

Will my right hon. Friend consider extending the experiment? Is he aware that the provision of low-cost communications for elderly people in Manchester is rather more important than the provision of luxury telephones for people in Hampstead?

Mr. Benn

Luxury telephones have an export potential which one should not exclude from consideration. The Post Office Engineering Union played a leading part in suggesting that we should tackle the experiment, and if it succeeds we shall extend it. I believe that there may well be a real need that we can meet both efficiently and economically.