asked the Postmaster-General when push-button telephone facilities will become available to the general public; and what research his Department is carrying out into the development of telephone-computer pushbutton linkages which will enable private telephone subscribers and business firms to pay bills with ready-punched cards over the telephone.
We are re-examining our plans for providing push-button telephones. Until the review is complete I am unable to estimate when they will be generally available. Research is being conducted into all forms of data transmission by telephone, but it is too early to say whether this development will be economically justified.
Would my right hon. Friend accept that in striking a balance between short-term needs and long-term research there is always a danger that long-term research may be neglected? Does he not feel that unless more money is spent in the long-term, by the mid-1970s our telephone apparatus generally will compare unfavourably with some operating in other countries?