Angus MP Mike Weir is supporting a bill brought forward at Westminster by his colleague Patricia Gibson MP seeking a change in the law to tackle nuisance calls.
The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors), which will have its Second Reading on November 18, 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.
Mr Weir, who has previously supported efforts to end the plague of nuisance calls, said: “Nuisance calls plague many, many people throughout Angus and it is 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.
“If passed this 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 my 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.”