/ Technology

MPs, pick our Bill to tackle nuisance calls and texts

Jenny Driscoll and Mark McLaren from Which? at Parliament

We’re in parliament today lobbying MPs to pick a new Private Members’ Bill. Our candidate? A Bill to reduce nuisance calls and texts. Which MP will say ‘You’re hired!’?

The Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts team at Which? were at the House of Commons this morning as the ballot for the Private Members’ Bill took place.

The Private Members’ Bill, for those who may not be aware, is an opportunity for an MP to present a Bill of their choice to Parliament that could change the law.

This morning, deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle MP, drew 20 names out of a ballot box. Usually, up to 400 MPs enter the ballot and over the last couple of years, against odds of an estimated 58,000 to 1, MP John McDonnell came top of the annual ballot two years in a row. So, was it three years lucky for Mr McDonnell? No, this year it was James Wharton who won top place. Other winners in the ballot included Paul Blomfield, Mike Crockart and Justin Tomlinson.

Now these 20 MPs will consider what Bill they’ll each put forward for an opportunity to be debated later this year. There’s already been media speculation that one of the MPs will be persuaded to put forward a Bill to require a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Some MPs may have a personal issue they want to champion, while others will be looking around for an issue to take up. And that’s where Which? comes in.

Dear MPs, Which? has just the candidate for you!

Our Bill would help sort out a problem that affects 70% of every MPs’ constituents. Our Bill is an opportunity to improve complex rules and regulation to protect consumers. It would target an issue that’s generated over 30,000 votes in a poll here on Which? Conversation, with 100% saying they’re fed up. Our candidate? A Bill to reduce nuisance calls and texts.

As it happens Which? is not an apprentice when it comes to Private Member’s Bills. We actually have had a good track record. Previous candidates have achieved results, including simpler and clearer unit pricing in supermarkets and a change in rules so that parents can finally move children’s savings from poor performing Child Trust Funds into Isas.

So today, the Calling Time team at Which? have contacted every MP who won a place in the ballot with our big idea. We hope to persuade one of them to choose our Bill. We know many people will back an MP who’s willing to tackle nuisance calls and texts.

Though the ‘interview process’ takes almost a month – the chosen MPs have until Wednesday 19 June to decide what Bill they want to pursue – we’ll be waiting for an MP to point the finger at us and say ‘You’re hired!’

Kim Broadley says:
16 May 2013

Hat about nuisance emails that we dint sign up for?


Just a reminder that market research calls are just as much a nuisance as others, even though they are legal.


We ask MPs to represent our views on matters on which they may have no personal experience. This is an exception, and every MP in the country is likely to have suffered from nuisance calls.

jondhm says:
17 May 2013

Thoroughly support this initiative of Which?

BT are now promoting a phone (BT6500) which is meant to be able to screen calls and send unwanted ones straight to answerphone. You can select categories: Number Withheld, Anonymous (no caller ID), International, Payphone.
Which? says it will be reviewing this – any idea when we will see if it delivers, and also how it stacks up against other phones?

Dr I r Cox says:
17 May 2013

Nice idea – so BT CAN stop nuisance calls but choose to make money by selling a phone to do it Why should I spend £50 to get BT to comply with their own user supply charter protecting customers from nuisance calls.?
We are TPS registered but this has no effect and my experience of them is that they are as useful as a chocolate teapot – as if Ofcom.
Why do they not obey their original charter and block all such calls at source?
For those on BT as supplier ( or other suppliers using BT lines) should be given the option to opt in to such a block.

We get up to 12 nuisance calls per day and have had to resort to using the anserphone as a filter – genuine callers will be called back – albeit this is at OUR cost


I’ve been using the BT6500 for a month or so now. It works pretty well, cutting down the telepests very considerably. You do need to subscribe to BT caller ID, of course. I have the BT6500 set to block international and “unavailable” calls. We do not block withheld numbers because sometimes they are legitimate e.g. from the doctor’s surgery. Neither do we block payphone calls because they are rare for us. (I suppose that would be handy to combat a stalker.)
Also there is provision for up to ten specific numbers which will be blocked. My current list contains three marketing numbers, entered after answering such a call, and it has blocked one of them in a repeat call.
The calls list holds the last 50 calls in, so the success of the blocking system can be tracked.
The phone has various other features which work pretty well and a very clear user guide can be downloaded.
For cold calls which get through (a withheld or an actual number not on the blocked list) I have found it works wonders to ask if the caller is familiar with the Telephone Preference Service, if necessary saying that I am registered with TPS, that their call is illegal and that the Information Commissioner is starting to fine such callers. This so far has always produced a hurried apology and the offer to remove my number from their system.
None of this removes the need for strong government action but until then it does ease the great nuisance of these callers.

Dr I r Cox says:
17 May 2013

How much extra do you have to pay per month ( plus the £50 equipment charge) to get what is your right as a BT user?


@ Dr Cox
I believe charges for BT caller ID vary according to one’s package. My current package of Unlimited Anytime Plan at about £21 a month gives free caller ID and we’ve had it as a good feature for some years (and the Plan gives mostly free calls at any time.)
The BT6500 I reported on above costs £45, or £35 from you-know-where, currently.
I agree it would be ideal if BT offered free to all but I don’t see how it could be done technically without the relevant bit of home kit for the user to block (and unblock) selectively. Whilst waiting for this to be solved, the BT6500 seems to me to give an effective and quite reasonable facility.
PS I don’t have shares in BT!