asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether, in view of the prolonged delay regularly experienced by telephone subscribers in the London telecommunications region in obtaining an answer and booking of their calls from trunk operators, he will make the necessary arrangements for such calls to be acknowledged and booked promptly in the future.
The delays in obtaining an answer from operators in London telephone exchanges are due to a steady increase in traffic since the end of hostilities, combined with an acute shortage of staff due to resignations and difficulties of recruitment. To meet this difficulty, a number of operators has been obtained from the Forces and from other Govern- ment Departments and a number has been brought up to London from the provinces. I have also arranged with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service that a higher priority shall be given to the filling of vacancies for operators required by the Post Office telecommunications services in London and steps have been taken to advertise the need for recruits in the Press and on occasion on the B.B.C. As a result of these steps, the rate of recruitment of telephonists has improved recently, but this improvement will not be noticed immediately as there is a period of training necessary before new telephonists can commence effective work.