§ 16. Mr. Marlow
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he next expects to meet the chairman of British Telecom to discuss investment in telecommunications.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
My right hon. Friend and I discuss telecommunications investment with the chairman of British Telecom as the need arises.
§ Mr. Marlow
It may be a small point, but is my hon. Friend aware that British Telecom is investing a certain amount of money in yellow paint at the moment, with a view to painting telephone kiosks yellow? The reason given is that it is thinking of changing its livery. I wonder whether my hon. Friend could tell the chairman of British Telecom that the colour of telephone kiosks is part of our national heritage and is not only a matter concerning the livery of British Telecom.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
Is it sensible to require British Telecom to finance its investment out of profits or would it be sufficient for it to do what any private business would do, namely to finance the cost of investment out of profits?
§ Mr. Baker
My hon. Friend has raised an important point, which the Government are considering. Last week, I accepted an amendment to the British Telecommunications Bill moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) to allow British Telecom to borrow from sources other than the Government. However, I stress that that is a permissive power and it does not mean that we have yet agreed that British Telecom will do that, since there are much wider implications in allowing nationalised industries to borrow generally from the private sector.