HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc5-7
5. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications how many public telephone kiosks exist; what was the revenue derived from them in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what is the current average cost of providing and fixing one ready for use.

Sir J. Eden

The Post Office Report and Accounts for 1971–72 show a total of about 76,000 telephone kiosks in the United Kingdom, which brought in income of £34.8 million. The average cost of providing one kiosk is £500.

Mr. Chapman

As the price we pay for vandalism of public telephone kiosks is now running at £500,000 a year, will my right hon. Friend seriously consider giving a direction to the Post Office to reduce the number of kiosks where appropriate and increase the number of facilities in places like all-night cafés and 24-hour petrol service stations, with appropriate signs outside, as they would seem likely to save the Exchequer a considerable amount of money?

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. I do not think it is a matter on which I should give a general direction. I am aware that it is very much in the mind of the Post Office, which naturally takes great care in siting telephone kiosks and is continuing to do the maximum amount of research possible in the hope of finding new ways of preventing damage from vandalism.

Mr. Kaufman

May I strengthen the right hon. Gentleman in resisting the pleas of his hon. Friend? On new council estates being built in my constituency there are as yet, unfortunately, no shops, all-night cafés or other places where telephones might be installed, and the lack of a telephone for calling hospitals, ambulances and things like that would be greatly felt. The telephone manager has been very helpful in installing telephones on the new estates.

Sir J. Eden

That is just one of the factors that the Post Office must have in mind when determining where kiosks should be sited.

Miss Quennell

I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman), but if the number of kiosks in the Petersfield constituency were reduced great hardship would be caused.

Sir J. Eden

That is probably a widely held view.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

For some months hon. Members on both sides have been asking the right hon. Gentleman to put to the Post Office the necessity for putting telephones in multi-storey blocks, which we think would reduce vandalism and offer an excellent service to people who cannot get telephones in their own homes. No doubt the Post Office has heard our pleas. Will the Minister tell us whether it intends to do anything about it?

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. I have said throughout the period that the hon. Gentleman has referred to that it is entirely a matter for negotiation between the Post Office and the landlords—in most cases the local authorities concerned.