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Northern Ireland

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number of applications for telephones outstanding in Northern Ireland; how many new applications have been made and how many telephones provided since 1st January, 1953; and what proportion of the total demand in Northern Ireland was met, as compared with the rest of the country.

Eight thousand and ninety-nine applications are outstanding. Nine thousand six hundred and twenty- four telephones have been supplied since 1st January, 1953, and 9,835 new applications received. Taking these into account 54 per cent. of the total effective demand was met in Northern Ireland and about 59 per cent. in the rest of the country.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very marked improvement? Can he say whether or not the extra capital which he has allocated is now making up the leeway, and how long he reckons it will be before the provision of telephones there compares favourably with the rest of the Kingdom?

I cannot give a definite time when we shall catch up, but as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, there has been quite a considerable increase in the allocation of capital to Northern Ireland because it was getting a little behind as compared with the rest of the country.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the ban on the building of new telephone exchanges by the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been removed?

Oh, yes. Quite a number of new telephone exchanges are going up all over the country.