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Shared Lines

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1949

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asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fears of potential subscribers about the privacy of calls on shared lines, he will make a statement on this matter.

I am glad to have this opportunity of explaining what shared service is, as many members of the public who have not had experience of it seem to be needlessly fearful of the extent to which their conversations may be overheard. Only two subscribers share a line and each has his own separate telephone number. When one subscriber makes a call, or when his bell rings for him to receive a call, no indication is given to the other subscriber, and the only chance of casual overhearing occurs when one wants to make a call while the other is already using the line. One hundred and thirty-two thousand subscribers are at present sharing lines, of whom about 40,000 are business subscribers, and their experience confirms that there is little risk of overhearing in practice. As shared service enables more persons to be given telephone service, I hope that increasing numbers of exclusive service subscribers will agree to share their lines and so help the Post Office to make this greater use of its limited resources.