§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are being taken to encourage the development of equipment to trace hoax and nuisance telephone calls; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Redwood
The provision of call tracing facilities is primarily a matter for the network operators. I know that the Director General of Telecommunications, Sir Bryan Carsberg, is keeping the situation under close review.87W
Hoax and nuisance calls are an obnoxious practice, causing great distress, and I have every sympathy with the victims. Complaints should be referred to the police, who have the power to prosecute under the Telecommunications Act 1984. British Telecom and Mercury are ready and willing to co-operate in such inquiries by tracing calls.
There is at present no equipment approved for connection to the public telephone network that the residential customer can use to trace calls. An application for approval has been received in respect of a call filter device. This would enable certain customers, connected to digital exchanges, to screen calls before answering them. The device works by requiring the caller to key in a number before the called party has to accept the call.