HC Deb 13 June 1968 vol 766 cc406-7
4. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Postmaster-General how soon he expects to receive the results of the research which is being carried out on his behalf at the University of Essex into the communication needs of the elderly.

24. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will consider the provision of an emergency bell service for old people living alone.

Mr. Joseph Slater

A Research Fellowship was established at the University of Essex in January, 1968, for a period of two years. The research fellow will report in 1970, but I hope he will have some suggestions to make before then. In addition to this research, we are prepared to consider any practicable scheme in which the Post Office can properly help with this problem.

Mr. Digby

Will the hon. Gentleman remember the great problems of old people living alone and their need for emergency communications? Will he bear in mind, too, that only the Post Office can help in this matter? Will he give any financial assistance necesssary for this fellowship to pursue the work?

Mr. Slater

We are always giving consideration to the sort of object the hon. Gentleman has in mind. However, I would remind him that this falls not only on the Post Office. We seek to help, but it is also a matter for local authorities and other interested organisations. Some 40 local authorities and voluntary organisations already provide emergency services, and we readily give our consent to applications which are made.

Sir S. McAdden

While not wishing to denigrate the necessity of doing something for the elderly in this matter, does not the hon. Gentleman consider that, in view of what happened recently at the University of Essex, there ought to be some investigation into the needs of youth?