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Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

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I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

If the right hon. Lady does visit Dalmellington, she will get a very hot welcome. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the huge increase in television licence fees will cause tremendous hardship, particularly to old people? Will the Government reconsider the decision to scrap the free television licence proposal for old people which the Labour Government would have introduced?

It is remarkable that this issue should be raised by a Member of the party that decided, before the election, for reasons which I fully understand, not to put up the television licence and to run the BBC on current expenditure and, until now, on a deficit, which has to be repaid. Now that the matter has been raised, I shall give some facts. This may be a subject that the Opposition have chosen to debate next week. They may like to have some facts in advance of the debate. If a free television licence were to be provided for retirement pensioners, the extra cost would be £145 million to £160 million. The cost of the television licence itself would increase by £16, to £50.