I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that a charge of threepence is made to subscribers of the National Telephone Company for telegraphing from North to South Shields and vice versa, whereas no charge whatever is made for telephoning from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Gateshead, and, seeing that the National Telephone Company are prepared to undertake the service between North and South Shields and to make no extra charge for communication, he will recommend that the extra charge be abolished or permission be given to the National Telephone Company to undertake the service between North and South Shields.
The cases are different. Newcastle-on-Tyne and Gateshead are included in the same Telephone Exchange area, while North Shields and South Shields are in different Exchange areas, which are connected by means of the Post Office trunk wires. The charge of threepence is the minimum charge for communication by trunk wires. The extent of the North Shields and South Shields areas, as well as of the Newcastle-on-Tyne area, was fixed by the Postmaster General, in conjunction with the National Telephone Company, and he is not prepared again to transfer the telephone business between North and South Shields to the Company.