HC Deb 09 February 1972 vol 830 cc1325-6
23 and 29. Mr. Adley

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications (1) what steps his Department is taking to acquire communications satellites to handle both national and international telephone calls;

(2) whether the introduction of satellite communications systems will replace the construction by his Department of communications towers in city centres.

Mr. Chataway

The acquisition of communications satellites and the construction of communications towers are both matters for the Post Office. I understand that the former does not replace the need for the latter.

Mr. Adley

Whilst I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that information, I am sure he is aware that many parts of the country have a long waiting list for telephones and that he is aware also of the importance to the aero-space industry of the Post Office's taking an active interest in satellite developments. Will he consider a reappraisal of the possibilities of the Post Office entering into discussions with our aero-space industry on the question of satellites? Secondly, will he take a long, hard look at the question of Post Office towers in certain of our cities, where the fingers of scorn which appear to many people to be represented by these concrete towers are not helping to preserve the landscape, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is so nobly trying to do?

Mr. Chataway

There is a continuing study of the possible use of satellites but these are for international communications and primarily intercontinental communications. It is not felt that satellites could be economic for telecommunications within a country the size of ours. I am sure that the Post Office will take note of what my hon. Friend has said about towers.

Mr. Robert Cooke

I hope my right hon. Friend will do his best to influence the Post Office in looking for alternative methods of providing internal communication, because many of our cities are threatened with the most terrible excrescences on the landscape which the city planners feel obliged to agree to because there is no alternative means. But perhaps if there is an alternative means in the offing they might be able to delay the damage.

Mr. Chataway

I understand from the Post Office that there are no alternative means at present. But I am sure that it will take note of my hon. Friend's remarks about the projected tower in Bristol.