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Micro-Telephone Receivers

Volume 237: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1930

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asked the Postmaster-General what is the added cost to his Department of the new micro-telephone receivers as compared with the standard instrument; and how many telephone subscribers have agreed to pay the added charge of 16s. a year demanded for the installation of the improved receiver?

The initial cost of the new instrument is substantially higher than that of the standard pattern, but the hon. and gallant Member will realise that the actual contract price must necessarily be regarded as confidential. A more important factor than the heavier initial cost is that the new instrument is expected to prove more expensive to maintain owing, inter alia, to the transmitter being of a more complicated design. Costs in this respect are necessarily problematical at the present stage. The additional rental of 4s. a quarter charged for the new instrument has been fixed to cover the extra cost involved under both heads, but the charge will be reviewed in the light of experience. Up to the present about 3,500 subscribers have ordered the new instrument.

If we may not know the cost of the instrument may we know how much more it costs than the original instrument?

I could not give that figure off-hand, but the point of my answer is that the reason for the extra rental is not the extra initial cost, but the fact that it is a delicate instrument which requires more looking after, and, in fact, requires three times as much in the way of repairs as the original.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that it is so much more reliable as to justify the extra cost?

We have only been using it for a few months, but the results up to the present have led us to increase our orders.

Will the Postmaster-General give a guarantee that no profit will be made by the Post Office out of the extension to the public of this undoubted convenience?

I may say that I propose to review the finances of it at the end of 12 months, and, if it is found that any undue profit is made, I propose to reduce the cost.