Written Answers. - Telephone Access to Department.

60.

asked the Minister for the Environment what he intends to do about the long delays in answering the switchboard at his office; and the reason for this poor service to the public and other callers.

The delays which telephone callers have experienced over the past few months in trying to contact my Department are directly attributable to the exceptional level of interest in the house improvement grant scheme. The steps I have taken to speed up the processing of grant applications and the provision of additional telephone operators and equipment have resulted in some improvement of the service recently and I expect a further immediate improvement. I am, of course, having the situation kept under continuous review to ensure an acceptable level of telephone access to my Department.