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Television Licensing Records Office

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the procedures of the National Television Licensing Records Office.

Is the Minister aware that a constituent of mine was last year visited after dark by two officials demanding to know whether she had a television set, even though she had had no set for 18 years and had several times filled in a form to say so? In spite of assurances that this would not happen again, she is being harassed with further demands to explain whether she has a television set. Is it not possible to stop this kind of harassment?

It is regrettable that Mrs. King, the lady in question, was subject to two inquiries because of two different methods of enforcing the television licensing law—[Laughter.] I do not believe that this is a laughing matter, since the BBC is financed entirely—£300 million a year—by television licences. It is therefore essential that evasion, which is widespread, should be avoided. It should not be necessary for Mrs. King to receive a further inquiry for another year, but it is essential, considering that the majority of households have television, that an efficient system of licence revenue collection should be operated.

Does my hon. Friend agree that many of these problems would be avoided if all pensioners living alone were allowed not to pay the television licence fee? Does she understand that many retired people regard the recent application by the BBC for a substantial increase in the fee as totally unjustified and unacceptable?

Although everyone, I think, would like pensioners to have free television, it would cost the taxpayer £90 million a year. As I have said, the BBC costs £300 million a year, and that revenue at present is raised through licences.