Lord Stanley announced in the commons that the post office was negotiating for the purchase of the National Telephone Company. He asked for a small select committee to consider details and £3,000,000 for the work of the next live years. The post office system would cost a little under £8 per subscriber, though 90 per cent preferred the call system, at £6 10s., with penny messages. There were 110,128 miles of wire at present under London. The post office scheme would cost £2 less than the cheapest now in use. The London county council plan contemplated a plant sufficient for 40,000 subscribers, of which the post office had 15,299. The committee was given.
In London a national system is proposed, which the post office is to take over, and according to the first announcement they will give the public telephones for two pounds less per year than the public are paying to-day. But a still better instance of state ownership is to be found in Sweden, where the condition of affairs is summed up as follows :
Sweden is a sparsely inhabited country with a total population of slightly over 5,000,000. Telephones in Sweden are owned partly by private companies, but chiefly by the state-the number of instruments on the government system at the end of 1902 being 61,000, while the number on the other systems was estimated at about 30,000. This gives a telephone for every 553 of the inhabitants. As indicative of the rapid expansion of the state system it may be explained that the number of instruments in 1893 was only 16,000 and the increase in 1902 was upwards of 5,000, or nearly ten per cent. Although the capital expenditure has been about $6,700,000 the present debt on the state system is under $1,800,000, the difference of close on $5,000,000 having been paid out of surplus profits. It is evident, therefore, that in a short time Sweden will possess a valuable revenue producing asset free from all incumbrances, and which will have cost her nothing. In 1902 the gross receipts were about $1,325,000, and the working expenses under $600,000. After paying interest at 3 per cent equal to $55,000,