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I too should like to know how this money is going to be spent, and I think Northampton would like to know that too. In Northampton the situation has really been outrageous. It has been going on for years.
There is a system of priorities which goes about half way down business needs. No private persons have the slightest hope of getting telephones in Northampton. Indeed, they are constantly losing them. If householder A changes house with householder B, both telephones are taken away. A is not allowed to move the telephone with him to his new house and B is not allowed to take over A's telephone because he was not previously a subscriber.
Each time we are told that the reason for this lamentable situation is shortage of capital. It is not the telephone; it is not the equipment; it is the exchange. The exchange cannot deal with the volume required. Over two years ago Northampton was promised a new exchange. I have been putting down Questions to the hon. Gentleman and to his predecessors for many years now. Each time I am told, "It is going to come," and it never turns up. In voting this money I hope that Northampton is going to get its share, because that share is very much overdue.
I should like to say something with regard to the countryside, because telephones are highly important instruments of production on the farms today. We are trying to get a large increase in our dairy and meat production. That increase can be achieved by improved cattle breeding, which in turn can be achieved by artificial insemination; but the work of artificial insemination depends entirely upon a telephone being available. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh. I presume they do not come from the countryside, where this is a very real problem.
As the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will tell him, the main breeding policy of this country is based upon the extension of artificial insemination, making selected and valuable bulls available to thousands of cows where previously they served only tens. That whole service depends upon the provision by the hon. Gentleman of an adequate supply of telephones. This is a service which is essential to production.
Now that we are giving him these large sums and now that we have exerted enough pressure for him to succeed with his colleagues, I hope we shall hear that he is going to hang on to the Post Office's own money and not have it concealed in defence, and that we are going to make a proper use of this money, a proper extension of the telephone service to the countryside, and in particular, that Northampton is going to have its new exchange, which it has been promised over and over again and which is still being delayed.