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Television Licences (Elderly Persons)

Volume 933: debated on Thursday 16 June 1977

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25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated cost of issuing half-price television licences to all retired people living alone.

Does the Minister accept that television is often the only company and entertainment for many retired people who live alone? In view of the anomalous situation concerning concessionary television licences for the retired, does the Minister agree that this is a small price to pay for the introduction of a fair system? Will he consider introducing this proposal at an early stage?

I note what my hon. Friend says. The Government will be reconsidering the whole subject of licence concessions in the light of the recommendation of the Annan Committee, but that Committee recommended that no further concessions should be introduced. That is a matter that we shall have to decide in the debate.

Is not the easiest way to get rid of this anomaly involving television licences for pensioners to do away with the licences completely and pay for public service broadcasting through a Government grant? Would we not then avoid all the administrative costs of running this silly licensing scheme?

That is one of the points that we shall consider, but raising revenue through licensing provides freedom.