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Nuisance Calls

Volume 616: debated on Thursday 3 November 2016

May I start by welcoming all Opposition Front-Bench Members? It is good to see a full complement of shadow Ministers and I look forward to working with everyone in the foreseeable future. [Interruption.] My side is slightly depleted. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Digital and Culture currently has Her Majesty visiting his constituency, and sends his apologies.

The Government are taking forward a range of measures to tackle nuisance calls. This includes the recent announcement to consult on making company directors liable for breaches of the direct marketing rules.

I thank my right hon. Friend for the update and the moves the Government have made so far. In the last Parliament I was vice-chairman of the all-party group on nuisance calls and we produced a report containing many recommendations. What other work is being done to implement them?

I thank my hon. Friend for the work of the all-party group. A number of its recommendations have been taken forward, including the new requirement for all direct marketing callers to provide caller-line identification, and I have just mentioned our intention to hold company directors to account. More needs to be done and I stand ready to make sure we do what we need to do to stamp out the dreadful nuisance that is nuisance calls.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the Fair Telecoms Campaign? It argues that, given the untargeted nature of the telephone, it is completely inappropriate for payment protection insurance and accident claims calls. It suggests that the Secretary of State should press colleagues at the Ministry of Justice to prohibit this entirely. Will she meet the campaign and my constituent David Hickson to sort this out?

I will look carefully at what the hon. Lady said, but I assure her that this is a cross-Government piece of work; we need to work together to tackle this and I fully recognise that nuisance calls can have a devastating effect on people.

Nuisance telephone calls are a modern menace, especially for the elderly. I am pleased to hear that the Government are taking more action. What will my right hon. Friend be doing to monitor whether the new action is actually being successful?

I will look carefully at whether the action we have taken so far has the desired effect, and if it does not I do not rule out taking further steps.

I am delighted that the UK Government have announced they will accept the provisions of my ten-minute rule Bill in their entirety and hold named directors to account for nuisance calls with effect from spring 2017. Does the right hon. Lady agree that we must not rest on our laurels and that we must continue to strive against nuisance calls to protect the vulnerable, all consumers and legitimate and ethical businesses, and will she keep the House updated on action going forward?

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her Bill, which helped raise awareness of the issue, and I am pleased the Government are following her recommendations. We need to make sure this works; we need to work together to make sure that it does, and I will be very happy to continue updating the House on this matter.