HC Deb 07 March 1968 vol 760 cc624-5
6. Mr. Bryan

asked the Postmaster-General what alteration in methods for procuring supplies he will make in the light of the report of the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

23. Sir Harmar Nicholls

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a statement on the renewal of the bulk supply agreement for telephone exchange equipment for the period after 31st March, 1968.

Mr. Edward Short

The future arrangements for the procurement of exchange equipment are still being discussed with the manufacturers, and I hope to make a statement shortly. The Telephone Apparatus Agreement is not being renewed and we shall be seeking competitive tenders later in the year.

Mr. Bryan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that almost everyone whom one meets in the industry seems to have had access to the report by the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation? Is he further aware that it is a subject of immense interest to this House? Could we not have the report published, for our consideration?

Mr. Short

I have looked at this, as has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, who has answered a Question in the House about it. Manufacturers gave information to the inquiry on the basis that it would remain confidential. For that reason we feel that we are bound by this pledge to the manufacturers, and we cannot publish the report.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is doing the right thing with vigour. Is he not aware that in the installation of telephones per capita we are dragging behind many civilised countries such as the United States and Sweden and even Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand and that the decision to ask for a year's rent in advance is not the way to catch up?

Mr. Short

I agree that the penetration of the telephone in this country for many years has been behind that of many other countries. We are beginning to sell the telephone quite intensively in many parts of the country, as the hon. Gentleman will see if he goes to this year's Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition.

Mr. Ellis

On the question of new contracts for procuring supplies, would my right hon. Friend note that the Prices and Incomes Board's Report No. 55 points out that distributors' costs are traditionally borne as a percentage of costs but that in some cases there is no need to increase prices because those extra costs have not been increased due to devaluation?

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