Government exists as the servant of the people and Members of Parliament represent their individual constituents. They also have a responsibility for bringing up matters of concern that have been directly expressed to them or which they have identified themselves as worthy of debate. The Government’s agenda of course gets priority every time. That means that MPs may be far more effective lobbying within the House than actually trying to introduce something on the floor.
In today’s world everyone should be able to feel that they will not be annoyed by unwanted attention in any situation. That is certainly the case when it comes to nuisance telephone calls that are completely unsolicited. The problem has become such an issue that it has come to the attention of legislators and one individual is hoping to do something about it.
MPs have a limited chance to introduce a bill to Parliament under the ten minute rule that needs to have sufficient support that it will receive more time so that it has a chance to become law. The diary is so busy that there are only 20 such introductions in each session of Parliament. MPs have been known to sleep outside the Public Bill Office on the appropriate date to guarantee their place in the queue.
The first reading is the ten minutes, generally after PM’s Question Time on Tuesday or Wednesday, when the proposer is allowed to speak. An opponent may respond for ten minutes then a vote is taken to decide whether it should go forward to a second reading. Often there is no objection simply because other MPs have little notice of the content. A second reading is therefore permitted but it is rare that a Private Members Bill proceeds simply because of the busy schedule that the Government is giving priority to.
Alun Cairns, the Vale of Glamorgan MP, has tabled such a bill to stop unwanted phone calls from companies using cold calling tactics as part of their sales and marketing strategy without divulging the number from which they are calling. Currently they are all removing Caller ID and hence are not identifiable. He has been informed that the Government has a strategy that will be published shortly. The whole issue has arisen because of the increasing number of complaints that are coming from the public.
Put a Barrier Up
The Telephone Preference Service which allows consumers to block such calls is failing to do so effectively according to the consumer watchdog magazine Which. It is not all bad news because the telecommunications industry has developed strongly and it is possible to use the modern technology together with a well thought out strategy to reduce the number of nuisance calls to a trickle. That can be done by ensuring that everyone has a telephone with their family and friends effectively being able to bypass a barrier which unwanted calls cannot penetrate.
Government is rarely able to act as quickly as people would like; it is a simple logistical fact. The answer is for people to act for themselves and research that barrier.
Image attributed to Freedigitalphotos.net Nicholas Tarling