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Television: Licensing

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many free television licences have been issued to residents of (a) Southend, West constituency, (b) Essex County Council authority area and (c) England and Wales in each year since such licences were introduced. (324376)

My Department does not hold the information. Free television licences for people aged 75 or over are issued by TV Licensing as agents for the BBC. This is, therefore, a matter for the BBC.

I understand that the BBC does not collate information on licence holders aged 75 or over by constituency, county or nation as this is not necessary for the purposes of licence fee collection.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much the television licence fee was in each year since 1990; what plans he has to change the level of the licence fee in each of the next three years; what discussions he has had with the BBC about the licence fee since January 2009; and if he will make a statement. (324381)

Information on the level of the licence fee since 1990 is available on the BBC website at the following web address:

A six year funding settlement for the BBC was announced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) in January 2007 and took effect from 1 April 2007. The settlement provided for annual increases in the television licence for the six years of the licence fee period, subject to the making of the necessary regulations setting the licence fee for the coming year.

Under the terms of the settlement, the increase in the licence fee from 1 April 2012 will be between 0 per cent. and 2 per cent., subject to a review nearer the time.

The Government remain committed to the settlement and do not intend to reopen it within the six-year period. This is because of the important principle that maintaining multi-year settlements helps to support the BBC's independence from Government and avoids suggestions of political interference.

I have regular discussions with the BBC on a range of issues.