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Post Office Equipment

Volume 990: debated on Monday 4 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what estimate he has made of the extent to which United Kingdom industry will be able to respond to official encouragement to manufacture private sector telephone and telecommunications equipment following his statement on 21 July.

From my consultations with the industry I believe that the majority of United Kingdom companies will be well placed to respond to the market opportunities that our proposals will open up, but in order to allow the industry time to adapt to the changed circumstances we intend to phase in the new regime.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is there now not a tremendous opportunity open to the industry? What steps will my hon. Friend take if, in the early stages of the development, inferior equipment comes in from the Far East and elsewhere?

The purpose of phasing in is to try to ensure that imports do not flood the market. A continuing certification procedure will be carried out.

Does the Minister accept that it is not a lack of Mickey Mouse telephones, but a basic lack of investment, that is causing the problem confronting our telephone service? Since his policy does nothing to alleviate that lack of investment, does he accept that the 20 per cent. increase in charges and rentals announced recently is only the forerunner of a continuing series of higher increases, longer waits for connections and a basic deterioration in the standard of telephone services?

The telephone system will benefit because of the increased traffic that will come about through the increased number of pieces of equipment available to the consumer.