asked the Postmaster-General what was the total sum, on 31st March last, of the deposits in his hands in respect of subscribers' accounts for telephone services; and what is the justification for this system of deposits in the case of local authorities, the risk of whose default is negligible?
The total amount held on deposit at the 31st March, 1922, was £1,441,000. The deposit usually represents approximately two-thirds of the credit given for calls, and the present system of payment is more favourable to subscribers than the previous arrangement, under which all local calls were paid for in advance and trunk calls, against which a deposit was held, monthly in arrear. Deposits are required, not merely as security, but in order to finance the service during the period for which credit is given.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not a fact that the ratepayers use the interest on this money?
If that be a fact, the fact that we are giving credit for a much larger amount than the amount on deposit is a fair set-off.
Is it a fact that the right hon. Gentleman's Department demand a deposit from a good many local authorities to whom his Department owe large sums of money; does lie not think that that is somewhat unfair; and will he not look into it?
I must know what are the facts. I cannot accept the premise.