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Telephone Service

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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Accounts (Deposits)

11.

asked the Postmaster-General the amount of money held by his Department on deposit against telephone accounts at the latest convenient date.

The amount of deposits by telephone subscribers held by the Post Office on 31st December, 1948, was £751,000.

In view of the substantial amount held on deposit, will the Postmaster-General consider reducing the amount asked for from telephone subscribers?

We do not ask for the £1 deposit that we used to ask for before 1934. This amount has been diminishing every year, and is now very much less than it ever was.

Altrincham Exchange

12.

asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for the modernisation of the Altrincham telephone exchange; and when these plans will be executed.

It is planned to convert the Altrincham telephone exchange to automatic working as soon as the necessary building can be erected and the equipment installed. This is an extensive job which is unlikely to he completed before the end of 1954.

Is there no hope of completing the work earlier, in view of the congestion on this exchange despite efficient staffing?

I do not think that there is any hope of completing this particular job, but there is room to put on a number of other lines with an extension of the present exchange.

Kiosks, Rural Areas

13.

asked the Postmaster-General how many public telephones have been installed in country areas in the West Riding of Yorkshire during the past 12 months; how many villages of more than 500 inhabitants, or a similar convenient number, in the West Riding are still without public telephones; and what plans are in hand for the installation of further public telephones in country districts in the West Riding.

Fifty-three telephone kiosks were installed in 1948 in rural areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and plans are in hand for the provision of a further 60. The number of villages of more than 500 inhabitants without a telephone kiosk is not readily available.

Is not the Postmaster-General aware that there is a great demand for the installation of public telephones; and can he indicate the chief reasons that make progress so slow?

I think that the progress in providing telephone kiosks in the last two years has been quicker than it ever was before.

17.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is now able to give further details of the quota system of providing public telephone kiosks in rural areas as announced by him on 30th March.

Under the new quota system the Post Office will determine each year the total number of rural kiosks which it can provide, and, in cooperation with the Rural Districts Councils Association, will allocate this number between counties. The location of the individual kiosks will be determined in the light of the recommendations of the rural local authorities in each county. Final details of the scheme are still under discussion.

As many of the rural areas in the most remote parts of Cumberland have been waiting three or four years since applying for these public telephone kiosks, cannot the right hon. Gentleman do something on the quota system to hasten the remedying of the shortage of equipment or manpower?

In spite of difficulties we have allocated to the building of telephone kiosks in remote areas a far larger proportion than ever before.

Morecambe

14.

asked the Postmaster-General how many persons were on the waiting list for a telephone in Morecambe on 31st March, 1946; and how many arc on the waiting list now.

There were 605 outstanding applications for telephone service in Morecambe on 31st March, 1946, and 572 on 31st March, 1949. Over 900 new subscribers have been connected during this period.

When will the right hon. Gentleman catch up on this considerable waiting list?

Well, we are doing our best, but it is largely a question of manpower, and in some cases of capital equipment.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long a potential subscriber has to wait before he is connected?

Women Clerks, Sheffield

16.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that temporary women clerks over 33 years of age employed in the Post Office Telephone Manager's office, Sheffield, have been warned that they are redundant and will be dismissed, their places being filled by recruitment; that temporary women clerks over 33 are to be denied the opportunity to pass a qualifying test for appointment to the establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The replacement of temporary women clerks by established staff in the telephone manager's office at Sheffield is in accord with an agreement of the National Whitley Council which applies to the Civil Service as a whole. The upper age limit for appointment as clerical assistant is 33, but a proportion of the temporary clerks older than 33 have been given establishment as clerical officers, and a further scheme of establishment is being carried out. It has also been possible for temporary women clerks older than 33, with a knowledge of machine operating, to secure establishment as machine assistants.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether discrimination is exercised either against or in favour of married women in these cases?

I am not quite sure about that. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down that question.