§ 4.1 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may make a statement on Post Office charges, similar to that which is being made by my right honourable friend, the Postmaster General, in another place. My right honourable friend wants to encourage the use of residential telephones, especially during off peak periods when existing plant is not fully used. He has decided, first, to reduce to 2½d. the local call charge for residential subscribers. The charge of 2d. for local call units payable by people in areas with subscriber trunk dialling will continue unchanged; secondly, to reduce from 2s. 6d. to 2s. the charge for 3 minutes in the cheap rate period for trunk calls of more than 125 miles, connected by an operator; thirdly to reduce from 1s. to 9d. the charge for 3 minutes in the cheap rate period for timed trunk calls of less than 35 miles, connected by an operator, and, fourthly, to apply the cheap rate period throughout the whole of Sundays.
My right honourable friend has also decided to reduce by 12½ per cent. to 25 per cent. the rentals for certain sizes of private automatic branch exchanges. The extension of the cheap rate period on Sundays will apply as from July 10. In general, the other reductions will take effect from September 1. My right
|Following are the details of the changes:|
|POST OFFICE TARIFFS|
|Present Charges||New Charges|
|Local calls from Residence telephone, without coin box, except those in areas with Subscriber Trunk Dialling.||3d.||On accounts due after 1st September, 1960: 2½d.|
|Timed Trunk calls connected by an operator in the Cheap Rate Period:—|
|over 125 miles||2s. 6d. for 3 minutes (2s. 9d. from a call office)||From 1st September, 1960: 2s. for 3 minutes (2s. 3d. from a call office)|
|up to 35 miles||1s. for 3 minutes (1s. 3d. from a call office)||From 1st September, 1960: 9d. for 3 minutes (1s. from a call office)|
|Cheap Rate Period on Sundays||2 p.m. to 6 a.m.||From 10th July, 1960: From 6 p.m. Saturdays until 6 a.m. Mondays|
|Private Automatic Branch Exchanges:—|
|Type No. 1:—|
|up to 15 automatic extensions||£200 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £160 a year|
|25 to 35 automatic extensions||£280 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £240 a year|
§ honourable friend also intends to restore quarterly accounts to all subscribers. This will require a phased programme over the next four years. He believes that the public will welcome a return to quarterly telephone accounts.
§ As from September 1 the charge per word for the Radio Telegraph Service with ships at sea at the standard rate will be 1s. 8d. instead of 1s. 6d.
§ My right honourable friend has come to the conclusion that the inland registered service does not satisfactorily meet public requirements, and he has decided to provide a cheaper alternative to it for articles, such as documents, where it is more important to be able to prove delivery than to secure compensation in case of loss. This new service—the "Recorded Delivery" service—will require a supplementary fee of 6d. only, as opposed to 1s. for registration. It will provide for a receipt both on posting and on delivery. Compensation will be limited to £2. At the same time, the minimum fee for both the inland and overseas registration services will be increased from 1s. to 1s. 6d. These changes will take effect at about the turn of the year and should make the services generally economic. My right honourable friend has no intention at present of increasing the charges for inland telegrams.
§ Full details of these and some other minor changes will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.1157
|Present Charges||New Charges|
|Type No. 2:—|
|up to 15 automatic extensions||£240 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £200 a year|
|25 to 35 automatic extensions||£320 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £280 a year|
|Type No. 3 (privately installed):—|
|For every 50 extensions||£120 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £90 a year|
|For each switchboard position||£60 a year||From 1st September, 1960: £50 a year|
|Experimental Radiophone service in South Lancashire:—|
|Calls in Service area||2s. 6d. for 3 minutes||From 1st September, 1960: 1s. 3d. for 3 minutes|
|Calls to or from places outside Service area||Trunk charge plus radio fee of 2s. for 3 minutes||From 1st September, 1960: Trunk charge plus radio fee of 1s. for 3 minutes|
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am sure that Parliament will welcome very much the progress which the Government have made in this matter of reducing charges and in doing something which I think should be really effective in popularising the telephone service in general. I should feel a little happier if they were able to say at the same time that they were confidently expecting to wipe out the arrears of applications for the installation of services. Nevertheless, we welcome the statement at large. I should like to ask whether, in considering these various stages, the Postmaster General has taken into account the question of reducing the rental for residential subscribers, which I gather has been rather a burden and has, in some cases, especially in rural areas, led to the resignation of some residential subscribers from the service. I hope that that point may still be considered. At any rate, I think it would be helpful, if not now, perhaps as soon as the noble Lord could arrange for us to have it, for us to have some idea of the loss of revenue in general which these alterations will mean and what is expected to be the all-round effect of it. Perhaps that may wait for a day when we have a less important debate on the agenda.
My Lords, may I support what the noble Viscount has said? I think that not only Parliament but the people in general will be grateful to Her Majesty's Government for this announcement. After all, these services, postal, telephone and otherwise, are very much part of one's daily life. I think the impression had rather got around that the charges had been fixed and were static and there was nobody imaginative enough to change them. Therefore it is refreshing to know that these changes are coming about. I agree with the noble Viscount that it would be desirable, if the Minister wants to encourage the use of telephones, that the arrears of so many people who have been waiting so long for telephones should be cleared. I hope also that the intention behind these reductions is not to increase the deficit but that, by increasing the turnover, the Post Office will in the end benefit by the changes.
There is only one small criticism I should like to make. I heard the Minister state that the Postmaster General has no intention at present of 1160 increasing the charges for inland telegrams. I think we feel that the charges are remarkably high. There are some of the older generation who still say, "I will go and send a 6d. telegram", but when they go to the Post Office they think two or three times and finally send a letter and take no further step. I hope that, while not considering increasing the charge, he will consider decreasing it.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I am grateful for the response from both noble Lords to this statement. My understanding is that so far as the questions put by both noble Lords are concerned—although the answers are available—it is not the wish of the House that this important debate should be further interrupted, but I will arrange for answers to be given to them.