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Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News

MORAY MP BACKS BILL TO TACKLE NUISANCE CALLS

22/09/2016  

Moray’s MP Angus Robertson is backing a Westminster Bill put forward by his SNP colleague Patricia Gibson MP seeking a change in the law to tackle nuisance calls.

Local MP Mr Robertson regularly hears complaints from constituents across Moray of problems with unsolicited calls, which can be extremely intrusive and can often lead to vulnerabl people being pressured into buying things they do not need.

Patricia Gibson has presented ‘The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill’, which proposes to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against the named Directors of companies found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

Currently the ICO only has the power to impose fines on companies rather than their directors, enabling directors to escape paying the fines by closing down the company and setting up a new one – a practice known as “phoenixing”. Of the 22 companies that have had fines imposed by the ICO since 2015 only six have paid or partially paid the fine, while the remaining sixteen have not paid the fines at all or have gone into liquidation.

In June the Scottish Government held the first ever summit on tackling the issue of nuisance calls, bringing together regulators, consumer groups and industry representatives to clamp down on the problem. The SNP government will continue to take action using the consumer powers available and will establish a taskforce focusing on practical ways of empowering and protecting consumers.

Commenting Angus Robertson MP said:

“Nuisance calls plague many people in Moray every single day and millions of people across the country every year. It is simply wrong that rogue companies are able to avoid paying the penalty for their unlawful actions.

"At best nuisance calls can be an irritant; at worst they can be a blight on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society with people being pressured into spending their savings or even using credit to buy something they do not need.

“If passed Patricia Gibson’s bill would hold company bosses personally liable for fines imposed for unsolicited marketing calls – elevating the issue of nuisance calls to the boardroom and ensuring that these companies cannot escape responsibility by going into liquidation.

“If the UK government is serious about tackling the practice of cold-calling it should back this SNP bill and give the ICO the powers needed to pursue unpaid fines. This would benefit the taxpayer and act as a strong deterrent to firms engaging in this practice. Most importantly it would offer consumers the protection they deserve from unscrupulous marketing companies.”

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