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Officer, Southampton (Motor Car)

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1951

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asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a lady, representing the Post Office, Southampton, is touring the countryside in a chauffeur-driven car for the sole purpose of asking telephone subscribers whether they have any complaints; and whether he will stop this waste of public money.

The officer was testing the automatic service from subscribers' premises in a very scattered rural area. Use of an official car was authorised exceptionally in this case, because of lack of public transport and of the wide area to be covered.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this lady was touring the St. Mary Bourne district, which is between 30 and 40 miles from Southampton, and that she stated specifically to my constituents that she was only inquiring whether they had any complaints to make? Would it not be more sensible and cheaper to let subscribers make their own complaints?

No, I do not think it would. The reason why the official car was used was because of the lack of transport facilities in this scattered rural area.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he is quite misinformed, that the lady in question fully explained the reason for her visit and that she made the specific statement that she was only visiting to ascertain whether subscribers had any complaints to make?

Is it not a fact that the services rendered by this lady fully justified the expenditure incurred?

There is no doubt about that. It is part of the arrangement to make the telephone service in that area more efficient?

Would it not have been cheaper and simpler if the lady had just rung up the subscribers and asked them if there were any complaints?

I am surprised at the right hon. and gallant Gentleman asking that question in view of the fact that he was once Postmaster-General.