asked the Postmaster-General (1) what are the current telephone installation charges; what these charges were on 1st January, 1965; and by what stages the increase was made;
(2) what instructions were given, and on what date, by the National Board for Prices and Incomes with regard to telephone installation charges.
The National Board for Prices and Incomes which reported on 11th March recommended that the normal maximum connection charge for an exchange line should be increased to £20 with corresponding increases in other parts of the scale, to take effect from October 1968. My predecessor accepted the recommendation as regards the charge, but brought it into effect on 16th April, 1968. The current charges are double those of 1st January, 1965.
But does not the Postmaster-General realise that because of the long delay, because of the time it takes to get a telephone installed, most of the charges have risen very steeply between the time of the application and the time of installation through no fault of the customers? Can he do anything to relieve their position?
It must be borne in mind that the cost of connection on average is £150 so that the maximum charge of £20 is still very reasonable. I hope that the delay in making these connections will be reduced.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the charges bear heavily on the old and the disabled? Will he give some consideration to this matter, particularly when a telephone must be transferred? Will he arrange for some easement of the charges for those two groups of people?
When there is a transfer of a telephone connection to a subscriber, there is usually no special charge. I believe that it would be unwise for us to start giving benefits in kind. We would probably find ourselves bogged down if we started doing that.