Parliament is being urged to make sure that the pledge to make directors of rogue telemarketing companies personally liable for fines of up to £500,000 is not abandoned after the proposed legislation failed to make the cut before the General Election was called.
In October last year, the Minister of State for Digital & Culture Matt Hancock vowed to introduce the legislation “in early spring” that would see directors face fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill 2016-17 – a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by SNP MP Patricia Gibson – was due to have its second reading on May 12 but, while the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through, this legislation was quietly shelved.
As the Parliament website states, “the Bill falls and no further action will be taken”, there are fears that it will never see the light of day again. The legislation has not been included in any of the main political parties’ manifestos.
One industry insider said: “The ICO is doing a sterling job in cracking down on the rogues but far too many directors are getting off the hook by putting their firms into liquidation.
“The regulator might insist that by closing down the companies that the nuisance calls stop but far too often these directors simply start up another business under a different name.
“As an industry we must push for this Bill to be resurrected, not simply put under a huge pile of paperwork and then forgotten. These firms drag down the whole telemarketing sector.”
The Nuisance Calls & Texts Task Force on Consent & Lead Generation suffered a similar fate. Convened by the Coalition Government in 2014, with a brief to look into areas such as the Telephone Preference Service, the idea was for the task force to carry on its work into the future. However, it was disbanded after the 2015 General Election.
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