To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will hold talks with the director general of OFTEL about the replacement of rural telephone exchanges.
British Telecom has invested more than £17 billion since its privatisation in 1984, with the result that more than 75 per cent. of customers' lines are now served by digital or modern analogue exchanges. Ninety-five per cent. of BT's exchanges will have been digitalised by the end of 1995. I meet the director general of OFTEL from time to time to discuss a wide range of telecommunications issues. He fully shares the Government's view that all customers, including those in rural areas, should benefit from the modernisation and expansion of telecommunications networks and services in the United Kingdom.