asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will introduce legislation to establish an approved list of qualified engineers, other than British Telecom employees, to fit approved do-it-yourself telephone and wiring kits;(2) if he will introduce legislation to permit approved engineers to fit telephone sockets.
I am aware, from a number of representations made to me by telecommunication equipment suppliers and users, of concern over the effect of existing licences and approvals in excluding competition in the supply of extension wiring and sockets for connection to single exchange lines of public telecommunication systems. The present policy is intended to strike a balance between the interests of effective competition on the one hand and the safety and performance of public networks on the other.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department takes to ensure that all approved telephone equipment is safe to connect to the public network and has a very low voltage.
All telephone apparatus approved for direct connection to public telecommunication systems is required to conform to safety standards. Compliance is independently verified before approval is given. Approval requirements are still in the course of changeover from British Telecom's guides which, as Post Office guides, applied before the enactment of the British Telecommunications Act 1981, to designated British Standards, including BS 6301 which relates to the safety aspects of network connection. Each set of requirements ensures that public networks are protected from voltages higher than those which the telephone networks use for normal operational/purposes.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many prosecutions there have been in the last 12 months of persons for fitting do-it-yourself telephone and wiring kits; and if he will make a statement.
Under section 5 of the Telecommunications Act 1984, it is an offence to connect to a licensed telecommunication system any other telecommunication system or any apparatus which is not authorised by the licence to be so connected. Under the licences which authorise people to connect apparatus to public telecommunication systems, it is a requirement that apparatus forming any part of those systems should be the subject of an appropriate approval under section 22 of the Act. As yet, I am not aware of any prosecutions being brought.