asked the Postmaster-General how many positions were staffed on the London Phonogram Service; what was the average delay before subscribers were answered last month and 12 months ago, respectively; and what steps are being taken to improve the service.
Last month there were 114 telegraphists in London dealing with phonograms during the day busy hour and 26 during the evening. The average time before subscribers were answered was 28 seconds during the day and 32 seconds in the evening, the figures being about the same as a year ago. Every effort is being made to improve the service in spite of the rapid turn-over of staff and consequent shortage of experienced operators.
Since very little apparatus is required for the phonogram service at the receiving end—only a telephone and a girl—and since the other three—letter codes on the London telephone system are very properly occupied by "Trunks," "Toll," "Engineers," etc., will the hon. Gentleman do his best to improve the system, which is now very bad?
It is purely a question of shortage of staff. As soon as we can get the staff the time will be reduced.
Will not the noble Lord agree that little girls are very scarce at the present time?