HL Deb 24 May 1977 vol 383 cc1161-2

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider it would be more equitable to pay the £7 rebate proposed for telephone users' bills after 1st October on a percentage basis.


My Lords, it was for the Post Office to decide how the excess profits identified by the Price Commission should be eliminated. I understand that the method chosen is acceptable to the Commission.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. Would he not agree that, in these days of computers, it should not be too difficult to allocate the monies to be repaid to telephone subscribers by handing back to all an identical fixed percentage of the charges incurred on their accounts in the agreed period? Further, would not the noble Lord agree that, owing to their obsession with the egalitarian society, this system should find favour with Her Majesty's Government? I should think that it would find favour with Her Majesty's Government.


My Lords, may I start with the last point first. In fact, it is more egalitarian to do it in the way proposed by Her Majesty's Government. If there is a general £7 rebate throughout the whole range of accounts, it is much more beneficial to the individual with a small account than to a major company with a large one. The reason why the Post Office chose this procedure is that the fixed sum has the advantage of being easier to administer. It benefits the private subscriber much more than the business user, since £7 would be a much higher proportion of the telephone bill, and it causes minimum disturbance to the longer-term financial pricing strategy of the Post Office.

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