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Public Telephone Equipment, Greater London (Damage)

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 18 May 1966

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asked the Postmaster-General by what date he expects the number of breakdowns in public telephone equipment in the Greater London area will have been reduced to the average level common before the partial introduction of subscriber trunk dialling equipment.

The shortage of spare parts caused by the recent increase in vandalism has created special problems. Measures now being taken are improving the position but I cannot estimate how long it will be before the situation eases.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the beginning of this month half of the S.T.D. telephones in my constituency were out of order and that one-third of the S.T.D. public call box telephones in the whole of Greater London were out of order? This situation has existed for some months and the matter is urgent.

The phones are being destroyed as quickly as we repair them. It is not as if they are destroyed and then there is a long gap before they are repaired. As soon as they are repaired many of them are destroyed again. This is a feature of the public attitude to the telephone which has emerged in recent years.

Does not this show a fault in design, because it is only the S.T.D. telephones which are being "vandalised", if that is the right word, rather than the old-fashioned ones which appear to stand up to it?

It is true that the S.T.D. boxes are being attacked in greater numbers, but they tend to be in the big cities. They were designed some years before vandalism was a problem. They are better in some respects because they are safer against certain types of fraud. But we have a number of measures in hand to strengthen the boxes, and I think that they will improve.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a combination of the old and the new type of telephone equipment is more resistant to vandalism?

What my hon. Friend is saying, I think, is that if we strengthen the money box we are better off, and that is what we are doing.