Rural Telephone Service (Concessions).

Oral Answers to Questions — Post Office. – in the House of Commons am ar 31 Gorffennaf 1935.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. ATTLEE:

71. To ask the Postmaster-General whether he proposes to mark the 300th anniversary of the Post Office as a public service by making any new concessions?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

In asking this question, may I wish the Postmaster-General many happy returns of the day?

Photo of Mr George Tryon Mr George Tryon , Brighton

I thank the right hon. Gentleman.

Yes, Sir, I am glad to say that the success of the various measures introduced by my predecessor to popularise the use of the telephone enables me, with the concurrence of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make, as from 1st October next, three new concessions affecting the telephone service in rural areas. I will give a summary of them.

First, what is called the "free radius" will be extended from two miles to three miles: that is to say, telephone service will be provided at standard rental rates, without excess mileage charge, for any subscriber within three miles of an ordinary exchange and excess mileage charges at the present rates will only begin beyond the three mile radius. For subscribers in the country beyond two miles from an ordinary exchange, the cost of telephone service will thus be reduced by amounts varying from £1 to £8 a year.

Under the second concession telephone service will be provided when and where technical conditions permit at standard rates for subscribers, who would normally be liable to excess mileage charges, provided that they are in the neighbourhood of a rural kiosk or other public call office, and that not less than four such subscribers are forthcoming. Where there are less than four, they can have telephone service on dividing between them the total rental charges at standard rates for four subscribers.

The third concession is intended to benefit those villages which, having no Post Office, are outside the scope of the arrangements announced in connection with the Jubilee and have been unable to obtain a kiosk or other call office without giving a guarantee. I fear I cannot, in these cases, dispense entirely with some contribution from the local authority; but I have decided to abolish the guarantee system, to which local authorities have frequently objected. In rural areas where local authorities have entered into guarantee agreements for public call offices they will be relieved of their liability; and in future a kiosk will be provided in any rural village or hamlet on the mainland where it cannot be justified by the number of calls, if the local authority concerned is prepared to pay for five years the rental of an ordinary private telephone line, namely, £4 a year.

I am glad to be able to mark the tercentenary of the Post Office as a public service, by announcing these new arrangements which will, I hope, be of lasting benefit to the agricultural community.

Photo of Mr Edward Ruggles-Brise Mr Edward Ruggles-Brise , Maldon

In regard to the second and third concessions, which affect only certain agricultural districts, would it be possible to indicate by means of a map or otherwise those localities that will enjoy the concessions?

Photo of Mr George Tryon Mr George Tryon , Brighton

There are maps which have been prepared showing the results of the scheme and the benefits conferred, and showing the position before and after the concession. I will have the two maps put up at once in the Tea Room, if the House wishes.

Photo of Sir James Macpherson Sir James Macpherson , Ross and Cromarty

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the kiosks will be provided, particularly in the north of Scotland?

Photo of Mr George Tryon Mr George Tryon , Brighton

Certainly, the north of Scotland will benefit very much, because there are places in the north of Scotland where there is no post office, and where they have not benefited yet from the Jubilee concessions.