HC Deb 26 November 1973 vol 865 cc3-4
2. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will issue a general direction to the Post Office to reinstitute a loop in telephone handsets to enable the use of the new behind-the-ear National Health Service aid induction coil circuit for partially deaf persons.

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. The Post Office tells me that it is already engaged in research to develop a satisfactory inductive coupler which could be incorporated in the standard telephone handset.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Minister bear in mind that the coupler will cost very liittle in cash terms if it is made a standard section of a mass-produced handset? Will he ensure that this happens so that all telephones do not have to be fitted with specialised tranistorised handsets but are capable of being heard by partially deaf people before the issue of the National Health Service post-aural aid?

Sir J. Eden

The difficulties arise from the more efficient circuitry of the modern telephones which eliminates a certain stray magnetic field. Therefore, this new fitment must be designed. It will take some time to complete the design, but I hope that its introduction will coincide fairly closely with the introduction of the new aid.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the Minister cut the cackle and consider fitting equipment to telephones which allows partially deaf students of the Open University to keep in touch with their tutors? If he cannot do that, will he have words with the Secretary of State for Social Services with a view to ensuring that all National Health Service hearing aids contain an induction coil to allow such students to carry on their education, irrespective of age?

Sir J. Eden

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. The first part refers to a very serious matter, and the Post Office is working on it as urgently as it can, well understanding the need to ensure, with the introduction of new telephone handsets, that newly introduced hearing aids are as efficient as possible.