asked the Postmaster-General how many orders for new telephone connections were met in the last financial year; and how this compares with previous years.
808,500 new connections were provided, a higher annual total than ever before and an increase of 16½ per cent. over the previous year.
What is the existing waiting list, and when is it likely to be cleared?
The existing list is about 96,000 now, and, due to shortage of equipment, it is likely to rise before it comes down, although by last March three-quarters of exchanges had no waiting list.
To what extent did the waiting list diminish last year compared with a year ago?
The waiting list has risen in the last 12 months due to the failure to provide adequate capital in the past. I have told the House on other occasions, and I must repeat, that the waiting list is likely to rise despite the fact that the capital programme authorised last year was far greater than that authorised before and that the number of connections also is higher.
But is my right hon. Friend aware that in the Bedfordshire area waiting lists have actually had to be closed and, what is more, in Luton and Dunstable a very high proportion of the public boxes are out of action? What urgent steps are being taken to remedy the situation?
The first part of that supplementary question relates to the growing congestion in the Home Counties region. The second part relates to vandalism, on which I have another Question.