HC Deb 23 April 1998 vol 310 cc671-2W
Mrs. Dean

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the progressive lifting of the broadcast entertainment restrictions affecting BT and other public telecommunications operators; and if she will make a statement. [39839]

Mrs. Beckett

The Government have considered the options for fulfilling their commitment carefully, and I am today publishing our conclusions. A copy of the document setting out the Government's approach has been placed in the Library of the House. In summary, we have concluded that:

  1. (i) Public Telecommunications Operators (PTOs) along with all other operators should immediately have the option to compete in the provision of broadcast entertainment to the 17% of UK homes currently outside cable franchise areas;
  2. (ii) PTOs and others should be allowed to compete in the provision of broadcast services, if they so wish, throughout the whole country from 1 January 2001.

We are following through on our commitment. We need to remove the uncertainty, created by the previous Government, over when and how the restrictions they placed on BT and other PTOs might be lifted. It has become increasingly damaging for all operators—including cable. All operators need greater certainty and clarity about the regulatory position as they plan long-term investments for advanced digital services.

ensure theory test booking office telephones are answered so that:incoming lines will not be engaged for more than 30 minutes in any week; and 95% of calls received will be answered by a human voice within 10 seconds after completion of handling by the automatic answering system.
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