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Residential Subscribers (Changes Of Address)

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if, in view of the increased availability of all kinds of telephone equipment, he will take steps to ensure that all persons moving into a house where there is an existing line shall be permitted to retain the telephone if they so require; if he will also take steps to provide telephones for all present subscribers who move to a new residence; and if he will make a statement.

A removing residential subscriber is given priority over a new residential application, but not over a business applicant. When anyone moves to a house where a telephone already exists, he is allowed to keep it save in exceptional circumstances.

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him, with reference to his last sentence, to bear in mind that when a person is obliged to move to a new residence where there is no telephone he can understand the need for waiting for one, but that if there is a telephone there it is difficult for him to understand the need to dismantle it and take it away and to put him on some waiting list and to keep him waiting for a considerable time? Will my hon. Friend also bear in mind how much this feeling is aggravated in the case of a person who has been a subscriber at another address for many years?

There has been a change in policy. In all but the most exceptional circumstances, when a person goes to a new house where there is a telephone he is now allowed to keep it.

Do I understand from that announcement that if there is a shortage of exchange equipment the rule is abrogated, or is it still carried out? Where there is a shortage of exchange equipment does the right to the telephone pass to the newcomer?

There is no hard and fast rule. The new rule is that if there is a telephone the newcomer may keep it, but in exceptional circumstances, where, for instance, there is a very long waiting list, the telephone would have to be taken away.

Does the rule mean that a subscriber moving to a new address will have a preferential right in regard to the installation of a telephone? If that is so, would the hon. Gentleman look again at the cases I have put to him for so many months?

What I said was that if there is a telephone in the house to which a person goes he is normally allowed to keep it.