§ Mrs. Gillan
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what safeguards he will put into place to ensure that(a) charities and (b) MedicAlert will not be faced with a third change to telephone numbers and consequent expenses; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ms Hewitt
Numbering is a matter for the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel). The current change to London telephone numbers is the result of Oftel's wide 1996 consultation of consumers, businesses and other organisations. The new scheme ensures that there is now a large amount of additional capacity to meet new demand (for example London will now have 80 million numbers behind the 020 code). The extra capacity created is far in excess of forecast demand and will last for the foreseeable future. However, it is impossible to predict all the new services which technological change and market developments may bring into being this century. It is therefore not possible for Oftel to be certain that it will never need to change the scheme further, or that charities, including MedicAlert, will never be faced with such a472W change again. Oftel has ensured the current change has been widely publicised in advance to allow organisations to plan for it.