asked the Postmaster-General how old the equipment of the telephone exchange in the Palace of Westminster is; whether it is due for renewal; how much depreciation has been set aside for its renewal; and when renewal will be set in hand.
The main exchange equipment was installed in 1950 and subsequent additions made. It is not due for renewal. Depreciation is not assessed for individual installations.
As this rather antique private branch exchange has been in action for 16 years and is very heavily used, and as it now gives a great number of mis-calls and mis-routings, through no fault of the operators, should it not be modernised? Is it not part of the Government's policy to modernise this exchange?
On technical grounds we would not be justified in replacing it as it is. If the House wants a different type of exchange that is a matter for the House to decide. Some of the difficulties to which the hon. Gentleman refers stem from the inevitable peaking of business in the House. Hon. Members come out of the Chamber at the end of a big debate and then have to wait before they can get through.