HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc383-4
5. Mr. Peter Walker

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the numerous breakdowns there have been on the London, Sullivan, telephone exchange; and what action he will take to stop them.

The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. Joseph Slater)

There have been no general breakdowns at Sullivan exchange: but my right hon. Friend has learnt with regret about the recurrent difficulties affecting the hon. Gentleman's installation and he has ordered a thorough investigation.

Mr. Walker

Is the Minister aware that on two private lines in the Sullivan exchange during November there were 156 faults on outgoing calls and, according to disclosures in the Sun, this trouble was national and not confined to the Sullivan exchange? Will he call for an inquiry into the standard of efficiency of the telephone service?

Mr. Slater

The number of faults recorded per telephone on the Sullivan exchange is at present running at the rate of about 1.25 per annum. In the quarter ended December, 1965, 4.6 per cent. of local calls failed because of plant defects. These figures are very similar to those experienced in central London generally.

Mr. Snow

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Sullivan exchange is apparently technically linked with the Tate Gallery exchange and one subscriber on the latter exchange has had for the second time to have his calls put on to interception, and this is an awful bore?

Mr. Slater

If my hon. Friend will write to me and give me the facts, I will have them investigated, but intermittent technical faults can be difficult to locate in a network as complicated as that of central London.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Is it not clear from what the Assistant Postmaster-General has said that it is the Government's intention to do nothing about this question? Is it not the fact that the problem is not confined to the Sullivan exchange but exists all over the country, as inquiries have shown? Will the hon. Gentleman initiate an inquiry into the matter?

Mr. Slater

It is through capital neglect by the previous Administration, and we must bear in mind that it takes five years to build a telephone exchange. What we are doing has the object of giving an adequate service to the community in general.