HC Deb 05 November 1986 vol 103 cc952-3
14. Mr. Weetch

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met the Director General of OFTEL to discuss competition in the telecommunications industry.

Mr. Pattie

My right hon. Friend last met the director general on 16 October.

Mr. Weetch

I thank the Minister for that answer. When he next meets the Director General of Oftel, will he tell him that in the course of a recent adjudication on a competitive tender by British Telecom in the Ivory Coast, one of my constituents, Jonathon Wash, part of the personnel of BT, was killed in doubtful circumstances, and I suspect foul play? Will he, through the Director General of Oftel, prevail on BT to lift the conspiracy of silence on the matter?

Mr. Pattie

I am sure that the first thing that the House would want me to do is to express sympathy to the family of the hon. Gentleman's constituent who has met his end in that way. We have no locus in the matter of requiring BT to make information available to him. However, I know that the chairman of BT reads the proceedings of the House with particular care, and this exchange may well produce the effect that the hon. Gentleman seeks.

Mr. Hickmet

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that, in the supply of telecommunications equipment to British Telecom, system Y was won on merit by Thorn-Ericson, and will lead to the creation of 700 to 1,000 jobs in my constituency? Will he also bear in mind that GEC, despite having numerous friends on both sides of the House and in high places, failed to win the contract because of the failure of system X? Will he ensure that the Director General of Oftel is not subject to undue pressure from any quarter?

Mr. Pattie

Anyone who has met the director general will know that he is unlikely to take lightly pressure from any quarter. I am sure that it is best to leave the merits of prospective systems to be tested in the market place.