§ 2.36 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in connecting new telephones, and what indication can be given of future prospects.]
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, in 1951 there were nearly half a million people waiting for telephones and new connections were being supplied at the rate of 355,000 per annum. By 1954 this rate had been stepped up to 410,000. Meanwhile, there has been a great increase in the demand for telephones, the number of new applications received in 1953 and 1954 being respectively 15 per cent. and 30 per cent. greater than in 1952. Despite this, we managed to reduce the waiting list to 360,000 by December 31, 1954, but 2 demand continues to increase and in January was the highest ever recorded.
Our capital investment was £50 million in 1951–52 and £70 million in 1954–55. The Post Office Estimate for 1955–56 includes provision for £81 million which should enable us to supply at least 455,000 new connections in the coming year. This is an increase of 28 per cent. over the rate in 1951, and nearly double the pre-war record of 240,000. We hope to increase this figure still further in following years. The arrears of work to be overtaken are very great, and there are some black spots where relief cannot be given quickly, however great our resources may be, because new buildings and telephone exchanges are needed. These take time to provide but I can assure your Lordships that we are really on the offensive and are determined to do all we can to solve the problem as soon as possible.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his reply, and say how gratified your Lordships will be to hear this story of continued progress in the Post Office ever since the war.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I ask whether the noble Earl can give the figure for the waiting list at the moment? He gave the figure for December, 1954.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, we have the exact figure only periodically, but I think it is round about the 350,000 mark now, or just a little under.