§ Mr. MILLAR
asked the Postmaster-General the terms on which new telephone 938W exchanges are now being opened in rural areas and the present tariff and rates for rural party lines?
§ Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
New exchanges are being provided in rural areas at an installation rental of £2 a quarter per circuit, within a mile of the exchange, provided that at least eight subscribers are forthcoming and the cost of the line required to connect the new exchange with the existing system is not abnormally high. If 15 subscribers can be found the normal tariff charges apply. These terms cover a day service only, but it is often possible by a party line arrangement to extend the subscribers' circuits at night to an exchange open always, subject to a payment of 5s. a quarter. Two-party lines are offered at lower rates than the exclusive service charges to those who live more than a mile from an exchange. Rural party lines are provided at a charge of £1 or £1 2s. 6d. a quarter per station where three or two subscribers respectively per mile of line beyond a radius of half a mile from the exchange can be found. Rural party line rentals cover an unlimited number of calls to subscribers on the same exchange.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
asked the Postmaster-General whether there are military telephones still in existence through rural areas which are now lying derelict and which might be taken over for extensions of rural services; and, if so, whether, by arbitration or other means, the questions causing delay can be immediately settled so as to give a telephone service to more rural areas?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Every known case of this kind has been examined, and where the circuit was suitable for the public service, it has been, or is being utilised, or terms on which it might be used have been quoted to the parties interested. Among cases arranged in recent months are the utilisation of derelict circuits along the Caledonian Canal; in the neighbourhood of Thurso, Cromarty and Fortrose; and between King's Lynn, Docking and Burnham Market. If the hon. and gallant Member knows of any case which has escaped treatment, I shall be happy to receive particulars.
Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Postmaster-General why the reduction in telephone charges does not affect slot 939W machines; whether the fact that calls on slot machines are still charged 2d., though two reductions in the price of calls on other machines, namely, 1½d. and 1¼d., have been made, is defended by the Post Office on the ground that the machine would have to be altered if the charge was reduced; why, if this be so, a rebate cannot be allowed each quarter; and will he say for how much longer he intends to overcharge slot machine holders ¾d. a call?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
One reduction only has been made in the ordinary call fee, namely, from 1½d. to 1¼d., and the corresponding alteration in the charge for a slot machine would be from 2d. to 1¾d. I find, however, that this charge would be insufficient to cover the cost of operation, which is considerably increased by the use of a coin box in connection with the telephone, and I regret, therefore, that at present I am unable to reduce the charge.