asked the Assistant Postmaster - General why cheques, value £32 13s. 4d., in settlement of a telephone account by Mr. W. E. K. Webb, Hopton Court, Alfrick, Worcestershire, such cheques being posted in a letter from Anglesey on 8th November, 1951, were not received at the Birmingham telephone manager's office until 10th January, 1952; why the telephone manager cut off Mr. Webb's telephone in the interim; why the original cheques were discovered in the General Post Office system immediately Mr. Webb issued further cheques; whether he is aware of the defamation of the subscriber's character, resulting from the disconnection of the telephone service; and what steps he will take to prevent, in the future, injury to the reputation of a subscriber arising from such mistakes in his Department.
My noble Friend very much regrets the mistakes, and feels that a full public apology is due to Mr. Webb, which he has asked me to make. This unfortunate occurrence was due to the original letter from Mr. Webb going astray in the post.It was because payment of Mr. Webb's account had not been received by the telephone manager that outgoing service was suspended on 19th November, in accordance with standard procedure. Service was restored on 20th November as soon as Mr. Webb explained that he had sent cheques by post on 8th November. Although I am glad to say that this unfortunate incident is practically the only one of its kind which has come to the notice of Post Office headquarters for many years, I am making investigations to see what further action can be taken by the Post Office to prevent such an occurrence. The letter containing the original cheques was not received by the telephone manager until 10th January, but after full inquiry it has not been possible to establish how the letter was mis-sorted and delayed.