§ Mr. Hannam
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if, pursuant to his reply of 18 April,Official Report, columns 890–91, relating to the Californian relay system, he envisages a similar national unlimited access telephone relay service for deaf people in Great Britain.
§ Mr. Scott
I am delighted that British Telecom announced on 7 June that it is to provide £4 million over three years to launch the funding of a nationwide telephone relay system in Great Britain. The money will be given to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) to meet the costs of building, equipping and running a telephone exchange which will eventually operate on a nationwide basis and provide a 24-hour service.
The new exchange will replace the experimental scheme which the RNID have been operating in London for some time. Although necessarily limited in scope, the RNID service has demonstrated the benefits of enabling a deaf person to use the telephone to call friends, to contact local services and to make business arrangements. The Government and OFTEL as well as the RNID have been keen to see the service expanded so that deaf people wherever they live and at any time of the day, can have the freedom of the telephone system.
The national exchange will be sited outside London, but customers will be charged only on the basis of the final destination of the call.