HC Deb 16 February 1970 vol 796 cc16-7
29. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will give a general direction to the Post Office requiring the installation of equipment to give a warning to telephone users to detect that their conversation is being recorded.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (Mr. Norman Pentland)

No, Sir.

Mr. Watkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the United States of America this is standard practice? Therefore, presumably the equipment is not difficult to install. Since there is evidence that there is an increasing recording of telephone conversations without the person at the other end being aware of it, should not we consider introducing this here?

Mr. Pentland

I take my hon. Friend's point, but it was announced on 23rd January that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would set up a Committee of Inquiry into the law on personal privacy under the chairmanship of Mr. Kenneth Younger. I think that we should await the findings of that Committee.

Mr. Shinwell

What are the criteria which justify detection of this sort, or are we to understand that anybody can be made a victim of this kind of detection? What sort of protection is available to the ordinary person in the street?

Mr. Pentland

All attachments to the telephone require Post Office approval. Without that approval the service can be withdrawn immediately.