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Nuisance Calls

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Conservative, Chelmsford 9:30 am, 3rd March 2016

What steps the Government is taking to reduce the number of nuisance calls.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The Government are taking a range of measures to tackle nuisance calls, including strengthening the regulators’ ability to take enforcement action against organisations that break the law and increasing consumer choice by consulting on making it a requirement for direct marketing callers to display their calling line identification.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Conservative, Chelmsford

Many of my constituents will be very pleased by that answer, but does the Secretary of State accept that they will hope that the action will be taken quickly? Like me, they are fed up to the back teeth with sleazy calls trying to sell them PPI protection or help with personal injuries that never happened. It is time that something was done to stop those disreputable practices.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My right hon. Friend and I are constituency neighbours, so I am very much aware of our constituents’ concerns about this subject. I am sure that neither he nor I would ever be guilty of making nuisance calls, either in relation to our own elections or, indeed, on behalf of candidates in other elections across the pond. However, action is being taken. The new measures are taking effect and in just the last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office announced a record fine of £350,000 against one of the leading firms responsible for nuisance calls.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Nuisance calls are increasingly annoying to me and many of my constituents—the problem may affect people in Scotland more adversely, with nine out of 10 residents claiming to have had them in any given month—and 30 March will mark the second anniversary of the DCMS report, “Nuisance Calls Action Plan”. What plans does the Secretary of State have to publish a revised plan, detailing what success the first plan has had and what future action can be taken to tackle the problem?

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We keep the matter under continual review, but we have taken a number of measures, and we will shortly come forward with the outcome of our consultation into strengthening the requirements for direct marketing callers. I am also in contact with organisation such as Which? that have a good record on the matter. If further measures need to be taken, we will certainly do that.