§ MR. LOUGH
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is empowered, under the licence granted to the National Telephone Company, to take possession of that company's system on the 31st of December, 1904, by giving six months notice from June next; and whether any negotiations are proceeding between the Post Office and the Company with a view to exercising this option.
§ THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Lord STANLEY,) Lancashire, Westhoughton
The Postmaster-General has power, under the licence granted to the National Telephone Company, to purchase the company's business on 3lst December, 1904, by giving six months notice, the price being settled, in case of difference, by arbitration. I am considering whether steps should be initiated, under this power or otherwise, for taking over the Company's system, and some preliminary discussion has taken place with the Company. I am prepared to undertake that the House shall, by Select Committee or otherwise, have an opportunity of considering any proposed agreement with the Company before it becomes binding.