HC Deb 11 March 1985 vol 75 cc13-4
32. Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects the report of the Services Committee on new telephone equipment for hon. Members to be published.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

The Committee's resolution on the choice of new telephone handsets appears in the minutes of the Committee's proceedings on 30 January 1985, which were published on 14 February.

Mr. Howarth

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that new telephones, comparable with those available to modern industry, will be made available to hon. Members and that they will include features such as loudspeaker and redialling facilities? Perhaps my right hon. Friend will also let us know whether they will be untappable.

Mr. Biffen

I understand that the answer to all of those questions is yes.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that, when new telephones are installed, hon.

Members and the public will get as good reception from those telephones which are not bugged as from those which are?

Mr. Biffen

The hon. Gentleman is a bit pushed if he is trying to get Tuesday's speech into this modest Question Time. I am sure that the answer must be yes.

Mr. Proctor

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the new telephone equipment is not necessarily purchased from British Telecom, but that it comes from the cheapest supplier?

Mr. Biffen

The Committee decided to purchase Facilityphone, which is a BT product.

Mr. Foulkes

I do not oppose the introduction of these modern telephones, but does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is ironic that we and, even more importantly, our staff, will use the telephones in unhygienic, often ill-lit and unventilated rabbit hutches?

Mr. Biffen

And still in droves they come to try to work here.