HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 c349
13. Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many prosecutions for nuisance telephone calls have been taken out in the Elgin area in each of the past six months.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

During the months of September, October and December 1992, and January and February 1993, there were no such prosecutions in Elgin sheriff court or Moray district court. In November 1992, however, there were two such prosecutions—one in Elgin sheriff court and the other in Moray district court.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. I do not suppose that a nice young man like my hon. Friend has ever been pestered by unwanted telephone calls, even from double glazing salesmen. He will know, however, that that remarkable record has been achieved because British Telecom has piloted a new system of telephones in Elgin which display the number of the caller. Just by sprinkling 500 of those throughout the population, nuisance calls have been cut to almost nil because we can now pin the heavy breathers down. Will he join me in congratulating British Telecom on piloting that excellent scheme? We hope that, like many innovations that start in Scotland, it will be transferred to the British Isles generally so that we may all benefit from it.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

My hon. Friend is correct. The scheme in Elgin, which involved 500 customers, ends today and the results will now be assessed. Our first impressions are that it has been extremely well received and that similar schemes should be implemented elsewhere.

Mr. Donohoe

Why is similar instrumentation 11legal in this country and cannot be connected to the British Telecom network?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am not aware of the problem to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I will look into it. As I said, it has been an extremely valuable scheme which should be taken forward. As my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) explained, the telephone number of the caller is flashed up, but I think that the hon. Gentleman is aware of that. There are problems for those who are ex-directory for security and other reasons, but they can have their numbers excluded.