Demands for an inquiry into poor telephone service denied
Herbert Samuel has pledged £3,000,000 on the development of the telephone system. This photograph shows the operation of wireless communications in the early 20th century. Photo: National Library of Ireland, PWP 2539

Demands for an inquiry into poor telephone service denied

Published: 11 August 1913

The Postmaster General, Mr Herbert Samuel, has rejected calls to establish an inquiry to examine ways of remedying the failings of the telephone system.

The Chairman of a Parliamentary Telephone Committee, Mr C.S. Goldman MP, had asked that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the deficiencies of the telephone service and the related rates. Mr Goldman’s committee has pointed out that Britain’s telephone service is inferior not only to large countries such as the United States and Canada, but to smaller countries such as Denmark and Sweden. It also claimed that expenditure on the construction of trunk lines had fallen at a time when new lines were urgently needed.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and representatives of municipal Corporations have also approached Mr Samuel to set up a General Advisory Committee ‘to inquire into the causes of the failure of the systems to satisfy the demands of the public.’

Although unreceptive to these calls, the Postmaster General did address a number of the complaints. He noted, in particular, that the development of the telephone service in the United Kingdom had been retarded as a consequence of being, until recently, principally in the hands of a commercial company working under a limited licence.  Mr Samuel added that in order to meet the growing public arrangements, an estimated £3,000,000 would be spent on the construction of new plant in 1913-14; it would also be necessary to introduce a Bill before long to authorise the issue of a further capital sum £10,000,000 for the extension of the telephone system.

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