§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in view of the healthy profits of its telecommunications division, he will introduce legislation to enable the Post Office to provide free telephones and concessionary charges to severly handicapped people; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kaufman
No, but under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 local authorities are invested with powers to help with the cost of telephones in cases of special need. The Government believe that this is the best approach to the problem because (i)644W assuming that the financial target for telecommunications remained unchanged, the cost would otherwise have to be met by charges paid by other telephone users. It is fairer that it should be met by the community at large; (ii) the Post Office would otherwise have the additional task of checking whether or not applicants were entitled to free telephones and subsidised charges—no machinery exists for this in the Post Office now, and it would be both invidious and wasteful to set it up.