§ 27. Mr. Ian Gilmour
asked the Postmaster-General which telephone charges he now intends to reduce.
§ Mr. Edward Short
I cannot anticipate the decisions which will be taken in the light of the impending report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. I shall make a statement in due course.
§ Mr. Bryan
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many industries with absolutely parallel reasons for raising their prices as the Post Office have had their requests turned down by the Prices and Incomes Board? I ask him quite seriously what he proposes to do if the Prices and Incomes Board turns down his request.
§ Mr. Short
The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to answer a hypothetical question like that. However, no other industry in Britain has to find the sort of money which we have to find for capital investment. For example, over the next five years we must find £2,000 million. From where would the hon. Gentleman get it?
§ Mr. Gilmour
Since the right hon. Gentleman has said that some telephone charges are too high, does it not follow that these should be lowered—or can this Government only put up charges?
§ Mr. Short
I have said that one of the objects of the present operation is to correct the imbalance in the present tariff structure. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that over the years the charges have been tinkered with so much, with bits put on here and bits put on there, that they are out of balance. I hope that we can get them right and that they will stay right for many years.