HC Deb 30 June 1971 vol 820 cc367-9
2. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will give a general direction to the Post Office to increase the amount of research into telephone kiosks which would deter vandalism.

Mr. Chataway

No, Sir. A general direction would not be appropriate.

Mr. Dempsey

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are parts of the country where more than 80 per cent. of public telephone kiosks lie in a shambles because of repeated acts of senseless vandalism? How long has the silent majority to suffer—with no emergency facilities to cater for them—at the hands of a wicked few? Is it not time something was done to provide some form of vandal-proof telephone kiosk?

Mr. Chataway

That is a matter which engages the attention of the Post Office, which has recently developed a new type of kiosk embodying features such as strengthened equipment, fluorescent lighting and a greater use of glass to give a clearer view of the interior. It is continuing its research.

5. Mr. Adley

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will give a general direction to the Post Office to discontinue the practice of providing telephones in public call-boxes which are able to receive incoming calls but which are doctored so that the bell does not ring, and where, on inquiry, the user is advised that the box concerned is not able to receive incoming calls.

Mr. Chataway

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Dudley (Dr. Gilbert) on 15th February.—[Vol. 811, c. 1176.]

Mr. Adley

I do not have that reply in front of me. Is my right hon. Friend aware, that, particularly on housing estates where most people do not have private telephones, the telephone is a vital link and lifeline, and that this practice by the Post Office in a monopoly situation is particularly to be deplored? Will he take the opportunity to advise the Post Office against that sort of operation?

Mr. Chataway

I have again made inquiries of the Post Office about the practice of suspending the incoming call facility. It has again assured me that that is done only in exceptional circumstances and for a particular reason, as where, for example, a call box is being monopolised by someone waiting for incoming calls.

Dr. Gilbert

Surely the remedy is to have more call boxes? Apart from that, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving a directive to the Post Office to indicate inside the telephone box whether it will take an incoming call? There is nothing more infuriating than standing in a box thinking that it will take an incoming call when nothing happens.

Mr. Chataway

These are management matters for the Post Office, which I am sure will take note of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that coin-operated boxes of that kind are grossly uneconomic for the Post Office? In the Hardman Report we learn that the Post Office provides social services to the extent of about £20 million a year, many of them operating in local housing schemes. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider—I ask no more—whether other Departments, particularly the Department of the Environment, might be willing to look at the problem with him to consider the financial implications?

Mr. Chataway

I see very little prospect of a direct subvention to the Post Office from that quarter or any other.

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