§ 16 and 17. Brigadier Peto
asked the Postmaster-General (1) whether he is aware that the number of favourable replies to the frequent letters of the hon. and gallant Member for North Devon on the subject of the provision of telephones for his constituents has dropped to practically nil in the last 12 months; and if he will consider taking some action to improve the present unsatisfactory situation in that constituency;
(2) what is the number of farmers in North Devon who have made application for a telephone but who cannot at present have one; what is the main cause of delay; and what steps he is taking to increase the telephone service in rural areas throughout the country.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I am aware of the position. Substantial progress has, however, been made in providing telephone service to North Devon farmers; 169 were given service in the past 12 months, while 146 new applications were received; 268 applications are outstanding. In rural areas generally, over 12,000 farmers' lines have been provided in the past 12 months, and over 2,000 kiosks.
§ Brigadier Peto
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of these people have been waiting since 1944 for 375 a telephone to be installed? Does he not think that some more drastic action should be taken than is now being taken? If wooden poles are difficult to obtain will he not introduce a temporary method of connecting farms without using the usual large poles?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the National Farmers' Union in that area has sent us a letter of appreciation on the vigorous steps that are now being taken.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting
Will the right hon. Gentleman review the practice followed by his predecessor at the Post Office, of using precious labour and materials in removing telephones from some houses and putting them in others? Would he please review this policy, which has undoubtedly led to a shortage of telephones in many districts?