HC Deb 25 April 1968 vol 763 cc461-2
24 and 25. Mr. Dobson

asked the Postmaster-General (1) how many computers have been installed under the Post Office data processing plan; where they are located; and which types of computers have been selected;

(2) what steps have been taken to advertise and inform industry that the Post Office computer network will shortly be in operation.

Mr. Joseph Slater

Nine existing computers have been taken over by the National Data Processing Service: six are in London and one each in Edinburgh, Derby and Portsmouth. The computers are two Elliott 405, six English Electric LEO 326 and one RCA Spectra 70/45. The Spectra is on loan from English Electric pending supply of their own 4/70. A certain amount of work is already being undertaken for customers outside the Post Office within the present limited resources. It would not be appropriate to advertise the service generally at present.

Mr. Dobson

I thank my hon. Friend for the detail of that Answer. When does he feel that he will be able to advertise this very important service to industry? Also, would he note that the service could be of particular value to industry in the South-West? What is the additional number of computers used in the Post Office in N.D.P.S. services?

Mr. Slater

We are limited in advertising at the outset by a shortage of experienced assistants. However, a recruiting and training programme is under way, but it takes time to build up a service of this kind. Therefore, marketing policy will be geared closely to our development resources. In regard to additional computers, there are four more English Electric 4/70 in our plans, two in London and one each in Bristol and Leeds, and tenders have been invited from 21 manufacturers for two further computers for the London Heathrow Airport project.

Mr. Fortescue

When will an effective service of data transmission, as opposed to data processing, be available through the Post Office lines?

Mr. Slater

This is an innovation for the Post Office. We have started from scratch; what has been done up to date is very good and will proceed.