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Telephone And Postal Services

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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I have also come to the conclusion that there should be an increase in the charges for the telephone service. The Committee is aware of the great pressure there has been, and is, upon this service. The Postmaster-General has agreed to assist me by making an increase in charges, which may also help to reduce the pressure of demand. The present surcharge of 15 per cent. on subscribers' local call fees will be increased to 50 per cent., but the free call allowance to residential subscribers will be maintained. Call charges from call offices will, in general, remain as now. The surcharge on all other items of subscribers' local service, such as rentals for exchange lines and charges for other facilities, will be increased from 15 per cent. to 33⅘ per cent. This will mean that for a residential subscriber in the provinces the annual rental will be increased by 14s. 8d. to £5 6s. 8d. For private wires the present surcharge of 25 per cent. will also be increased to 33⅘ per cent. The increase in call fees will yield, in a full year, £4,250,000, and the other increases £3,850,000.

At the same time, two minor adjustments in Post Office charges will be made. The registration charge for letters and parcels will go up a 1d.; the charge on printed papers for overseas destinations will be increased by ½d. for the first weight step, making the minimum Id. instead of the present ½d. These will produce in a full year, £600,000. The total increases in a full year thus come to £8,700,000. These changes cannot all be brought into operation at once, but I hope that the new surcharge on call fees will take effect from 1st July. The increase on telephone rentals, which will require legislation, cannot be brought into effect before 1st October. The other charges can operate from 1st May. The result of these necessary delays is that the extra receipts this year will only amount to £3,000,000.