§ Mr. Gerald Howarth
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list for each of the last five years, in respect of interference with aeronautical radio communications by pirate radio transmitters,(a) the number of reported cases, (b) the number of prosecutions brought by the Radio Communications Agency and (c) the sentences applicable to such offences; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ms Hewitt
The Department's Radiocommunications Agency take seriously any interference to authorised radio communications. Where the interference has implications for the safety of life the Agency has a target to respond within 24 hours.
Reports of interference to aeronautical radio communications are not usually specific as to the source. However, the Agency has seized pirate radio transmitters identified as being the source of interference to aeronautical radio communications on the following number of occasions in each of the past five years.
Year Numbers 1996 5 1997 19 1998 10 1999 8 20001 2 1 To date
The number of persons prosecuted in each of the past five years where there was evidence that the pirate radio station had caused such interference is as follows:
Year Numbers 1996 0 1997 2 1998 0 1999 2 20001 6 1 To date
The maximum penalty for the use of radio transmitting equipment contrary to the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 is a fine of £5,000 and six months' imprisonment on conviction at the magistrates court and an unlimited fine and two years' imprisonment on conviction at the Crown court. In both instances the court can also order the forfeit of anything used in the commission of the offence. In 1999 one of those convicted was sentenced to 28 days' imprisonment and this year two of those convicted were sentenced to six months' and four months' imprisonment respectively.