§ Mr. Neale
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ensure that companies licensed as at 31 December 1982 to operate public mobile radio telephone message handling services will continue to enjoy, under any substituted licences issued under powers resulting from existing legislation or from those proposed in the Telecommuncations Bill 1983, identical licensed status and retain the ability to operate their existing allocated frequencies to provide such services.
§ Mr. Butcher
Schedule 5 of the Telecommunications Bill provides that all licences granted under the British Telecommunications Act 1981 and earlier legislation which authorise the running of telecommunication systems2W and which are effective on the appointed day when the Bill comes into force will continue to have effect after that date. This provision ensures that all companies which are individually licensed to run telecommunication systems which provide mobile radio message handling services will continue to be licensed and their licenses will be unaffected by the Bill.
The Telecommunications Bill makes new provision for the regulation of telecommunications which will make it desirable to replace many existing licences, for example to delete restrictive provisions. Schedule 5 makes provision for the amendment and revocation of existing licences and the Department therefore intends to consult the holders of existing licences with a view to granting replacement licences.
I am also considering arrangements under which large numbers of licences granted to individuals can be replaced by one or more general or class licences similar to the general licence for value added network services. This will save administrative expense and ensure that all concerned compete on an equal basis.
Licences granted under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1949 to 1967 will not be affected by the enactment of the Telecommunications Bill.