asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the reason for the continued inefficiency of the telephone service.
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given to his question on 25th October. As I explained then, the effect of the steps which are being taken to improve the telephone service is bound to be gradual.
In view of the fact that only two days ago I, as one user among millions, experienced five wrong numbers within an hour and a half, will the hon. Gentleman consider handing over the system to private enterprise?
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the cause of the high proportion of wrongnumbers which telephone callers now experience; and whether there is any technical remedy.
:The percentage of wrong numbers at present averages about 1·5 per cent. in London, and 1 per cent. elsewhere. War conditions—both actual damage and shortage of maintenance staff—have inevitably resulted in some deterioration of telephone equipment. Technical improvements are continually being developed, and as these are put into service and as additional staff becomes available gradual improvements in the quality of service should result.
:While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that hopeful answer, may I ask whether subscribers are charged for this inefficiency on the part of the Post Office in getting wrong numbers?
:I do not accept the charge of inefficiency. Subscribers are not charged. They sometimes get their own wrong numbers, and always feel certain that they are right, although they are not always as right as they feel they are.
Withregard to the standard of service, can the hon. Gentleman say what has happened to the vast network of telephone lines which served the needs of the Services during the war? How much of that equipment has been released to the public in order to improve the service?
:Two thousand five hundred new trunk lines have been laid during the past few months, but I must point out that many lines which were laid by the Services were laid in remote districts, and are not usable by the ordinary population.
Is my hon. Friend satisfied that all automatic exchanges are now fitted with adequate earphones?