HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc386-7
22. Mr. Jackson

asked the Postmaster-General what progress has been made in the last 12 months in the provision of public telephone facilities in areas of sparse population.

60. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Postmaster-General what consideration has been given to the possibility of meeting the emergency telephone needs of people in remote areas where kiosk provision cannot be given.

Mr. Benn

I am arranging as an experiment for weatherproof telephones, without the full kiosk structures, to be tried out in three places (two in Scotland and one near a roundabout on the Catterick Bypass if the Highway Authority concurs). These telephones will not have coin-boxes: they will be available for emergency, transfer charge, credit and incoming calls.

Mr. Jackson

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. I ask him to bear in mind, in the provision of telephones in remote areas, the needs of the community as a whole and not simply base the matter on profit and loss.

Mr. Benn

That is not the basis on which kiosks in rural areas are dealt with. Six thousand unremunerative kiosks have been provided since 1949. In the next two and a half years £80,000 will be spent on more. This is an attempt to see whether one can meet an emergency need without losing such a great deal of money.

Mr. Hamilton

Where will the two be located in Scotland? How long does my right hon. Friend intend to run the experiment before he extends it?

Mr. Benn

The details of the Scottish kiosks are not yet settled, but I will write to my hon. Friend. The experiment will go on long enough to see whether it is likely to meet a need.