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Television Licence (Duty)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 1957.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East 12:00 am, 16th April 1957

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will exempt old-age pensioners from the £1 extra duty on the combined television and sound licence.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Why not? In view of the reliefs which the Chancellor has given, and which he has stated go to 330,000 people, how does he expect these old-age pensioners to pay, if they are single, two weeks of their pension money for a television licence? How does he expect the million old-age pensioners who are on National Assistance to pay this additional tax, making £4 a year to meet the licence for their television sets? Has he no consideration at all for old-age pensioners?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

No doubt the hon. Member will have an opportunity in later debates to develop that point, but if someone can pay 56 guineas for a television set, in general they will be able to pay the extra 4½ d. a week towards the licence.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Does the right hon. Gentleman not appreciate that in most cases old-age pensioners have the set given to them by generous relations but they have to meet the cost of the licence themselves?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

There would be difficulty in singling out television sets which had been the subject of a gift. This is a matter better dealt with in debate than in question and answer.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the additional £1 extra duty imposed on the combined television and sound licence, he will permit payment of the annual total in half-yearly instalments.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

No, Sir. The cost of collection would be much higher and the half-yearly payments would have to be bigger to cover it.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Why did the right hon. Gentleman not think of that before? Does he not appreciate that it is not easy for those in the lower-income groups to find £4 at one go to meet the cost of this licence? Does he not understand the position in which the majority of people live?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I did think of it, and that is why I did not adopt the hon Member's suggestion.