§ 3. Mr. Gardner
asked the Postmaster-General to what extent delays in the supply of equipment are holding up the construction of automatic telephone exchanges.
§ Mr. Edward Short
Eighty-three per cent. of the contracts for exchange equipment are in arrears because of the practical difficulties of more than doubling output over as short a period as two years; the average delay is just under six months.
§ Mr. Gardner
In view of that reply, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is time we had a thorough look at the industry with a view to the Post Office having a greater stake in initiating new developments and producing equipment to meet his needs?
§ Mr. Short
It is because we felt that we should have a look at this that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and I referred the industry to the Industrial Reorganisation 576 Corporation. On the question of the manufacture of equipment by the Post Office, it is extremely sophisticated equipment, which we need immediately. However, in the new Bill which will be introduced to give the Post Office corporation status I am asking the House for these powers.