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Departmental Telephone Services

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many telephone numbers for which callers are charged at the rate applicable to 0845 numbers are used by (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies for public access to services. (246986)

The Department, and its agencies, use 42 0845 telephone numbers to provide a range of services to the public. These include IT support for online enquiries, customer service inquiries, contact with the jury summoning office and a small number of courts.

The 0845 numbers were introduced because, at the time, calls from anywhere in the UK were charged at a local rate making it cheaper for people to make contact rather than using the exchange number. With the expansion of the telecommunications markets, call charges are now set by the individual phone companies, often as part of wider service packages. The charges vary, and are outside the control of the Department. Where possible, customers are also given the exchange number, as depending on the individual inquirer’s telephone plan, 0845 may not now be the cheapest option.