HC Deb 29 March 1983 vol 40 cc220-1
Mr. Butcher

I beg to move amendment No. 20, in page 20, line 14, at end insert— '(1A) A person applying for an approval under this section may be required by the person to whom the application is made to comply with such requirements as the person to whom the application is made may think appropriate; and those requirements may include a requirement to satisfy some other person with respect to any matter.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 21, 119 and 22 to 29.

Mr. Butcher

If a licence granted under clause 7 refers to the carrying out of maintenance, installation, repair and so forth by approved persons, the Secretary of State and the director have power under clause 17 to approve people to carry out those operations. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Information Technology told the House on 7 February, we intend to open up the maintenance of all new call-routing apparatus to competition, whether the call-routing apparatus is large or small, analogue or digital, provided the maintenance is carried out by an approved person. There will be appropriate conditions in the licences of public telecommunication systems. Maintainers will he given approval only if they can demonstrate the necessary degree of competence, quality control, backup for spares and technical information so that the risk of interference to service from poorly maintained apparatus is minimal. The necessary technical assessment will be carried out by the British Standards Institution and I am glad to tell the House that a suitable assessment scheme has now been prepared by BSI, which is already dealing with the first inquiries. There will be periodic inspections of maintainers by BSI to make sure that the quality of service does not deteriorate.

The Secretary of State or the director will not normally approve a maintainer under clause 17 unless the maintainer has first been registered by BSI. The Secretary of State or the director may occasionally decide against giving approval—for example, if there were considerations of national security.

Amendments Nos. 20 and 119 merely transfer the present subsection (4) nearer to the beginning of clause 1.7, where it fits more logically. Amendment No. 21 makes it absolutely clear that the continuing periodic inspection of maintainers, which I have already mentioned, is permitted by statute. Amendment No. 22 is consequential to amendment No. 20.

Amendment No. 23 makes good an omission from subsection (7). It ensures that the Secretary of State is obliged to send the director copies of approvals and particulars of variations or withdrawals only in the case of approvals that the Secretary of State himself has given.

6.15 pm

Amendment No. 24 removes a slight restriction in subsection (8) which provides for the payment of fees by persons applying for approval under the clause. The amendment makes it possible for someone other than the applicant, such as his agent, to pay the fee and thus avoids a possible obstacle to sensible commercial arrangements between, for example, a manufacturer and a distributor.

Amendments Nos. 25 to 29 relate to clause 19. They are technical amendments designed to remove any doubt about the statutory authority for the apparatus approval arrangements. As the House knows, these arrangements centre on the British Approvals Board for Telecommunications, an independent private sector body. BABT is a compact, expert organisation which does not possess test facilities of its own but places test work contracts with suitable laboratories and is able to obtain keenly competitive prices. This will help to keep approval fees as low as possible, having regard both to the complexity of the apparatus under test and the nature of the tests laid down in the standards.

An essential ingredient of the type of approval procedure for apparatus supplied in bulk is the monitoring of quality control in the factory. Without this, there would be no adequate assurance that apparatus coming off the production line was the same as the test samples examined on behalf of BABT.

Amendment No. 25 makes it clear that an approval authority can insist that appropriate requirements are met. Thus, BABT will be able to insist on quality control procedures in factories. The amendment also requires BABT to require a satisfactory test report from a laboratory that it does not itself run.

The first part of amendment No. 27 provides for monitoring of products and quality control to be carried out by BABT so long as an approval for a bulk produced item remains in force. The second part removes any doubt that a person other than the Secretary of State or the director may charge fees for laboratory tests, factory assessments and the like required by an approvals authority.

Amendments No. 26 and 28 make drafting improvements to clause 19(3) and allow apparatus to be approved subject to conditions. Sometimes the conditions will refer to the use of the apparatus. The Bill as drafted limits the effect of approvals to the connection of the apparatus. The amendments widen the drafting to cover conditions of use as well.

Amendment No. 29 resembles amendment No. 24. It gives flexibility for approval fees to be paid by someone other than the person applying for approval.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 21, in page 20, line 23, at end insert `and any such condition may impose on the person to whom the approval is given a requirement from time to time to satisfy any person with respect to any matter.'.

No. 119, in page 20, leave out lines 24 to 29.

No. 22, in page 20, line 33, leave out '(4)' and insert `(1A) or (3)'.

No. 23, in page 20, line 40, after 'given', insert `by him'.

No. 24, in page 21, line 2, leave out `by persons applying for' and insert 'in respect of'.—[Mr. Butcher.]

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