HC Deb 12 January 1971 vol 809 cc34-5W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Lord President of the Council why the House of Commons telephonists, after accepting calls from Members, do not inform them whether or not the call has been connected until some time has elapsed; and whether he will ensure that in future these telephonists will follow the normal practice of informing the caller without delay that he is connected, or give reasons why the call cannot be connected.

Mr. Whitelaw

The difficulty arises mainly from the present congestion on the switchboard. For instance, an operator may be dealing with eight to ten calls at any one time. The problem will be completely solved only when the automatic exchange comes into operation in 1972. In the meantime, operators are instructed to check regularly all calls in progress, but they have to strike a balance between such calls and other calls waiting to be answered.