asked the Postmaster-General whether he has considered the advisability of abolishing cheap night trunk calls?
Yes, Sir. This matter has been under constant review since 1940, when the cheap night trunk service was restored, after having been withdrawn on the outbreak of war. This service is largely used by the troops and others living away from home, and I am satisfied that it is in the national interest to maintain the facility. It results, however, in serious staffing and transport difficulties during the later evening hours, and some modification of the existing arrangements is necessary. I am accordingly arranging for cheap night trunk and toll calls to be restricted to the period 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. for subscribers and 5.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. for call office users. The change will come into effect on Thursday, 1st April. I am sure that both the House and the public will recognise that some restriction is necessary under present conditions, and I hope that the public will assist the Post Office by reducing, as much as possible, both the number and the duration of such calls.
What is involved in the 9.30 p.m. stoppage of these trunk calls? Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mean that calls put in before that time will in due course be fulfilled, even though there is perhaps a two hours' delay?
No, Sir. It is just the same arrangement as exists now, the only alteration being in the time.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this will cause great congestion during those hours and that any attempt to prevent boys and girls away from home and evacuated people from communicating with their parents will be resented all over the country?
The trouble is that we are also up against man-power difficulties. By cutting down the service to this extent it is anticipated that there will be a saving of from 300 to 350 operators.
In view of the uncertainty created by the answer to my previous Supplementary Question, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman take an opportunity of further informing the House of the actual position?
Yes, Sir. If the hon. Member will put down a Question oh any point of detail, I shall be happy to answer it.