HC Deb 21 February 1940 vol 357 cc1363-4W
Mr. Viant

asked the Postmaster-General the number of male telephonists who have been recruited, and the number it is intended to recruit in the near future, in order to meet the increased work arising from the restoration of the 1s. trunk call service?

Major Tryon

During the course of the discussions with the staff representatives, which began in December last, assurances were given to them that women telephonists would not be employed after 8 p.m. unless suitable men were not available. Since then 1,150 male telephonists have been recruited, and a further 600 will be recruited in the near future. These figures include some provision for the replacement of male telephonists recently called up, and to be called up, for service with the Forces. The newly recruited men will, of course, have to be trained before they can take the place of women telephonists

Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Postmaster-General the reason for the delays in repairing the telephone wires resulting from the damage done by the recent severe weather which cut off some districts for over three weeks; and whether his Department sought the help of local Army units in removing obstructions and effecting repairs?

Major Tryon

Repairs were put in hand immediately the damage occurred, but they have been badly hampered by the persistent severity of the weather. The difficulties of repair have also been increased by the widespread nature of the damage. Full advantage has been taken of the assistance offered by the military authorities who were in a position to provide the services of parties ready organised and equipped with transport. In some cases these included signallers with valuable previous experience and the military authorities welcomed the opportunity of affording them training and practice in effecting repairs in circumstances of exceptional difficulty. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking them for their valuable help.

Commander Fletcher

asked the Postmaster-General whether the machinery at his disposal provides for any penalty other than dismissal for Post Office telephonists who deliberately fail to pass on air-raid warnings?

Major Tryon

Yes, Sir. A person in the employment of the Post Office who wilfully or negligently omits or delays to transmit a telephone message is liable to prosecution and on conviction to a penalty not exceeding £20