TV Licences for over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:46 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 1:46 pm, 8th May 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
calls on the Government to honour the Conservative party’s 2017 manifesto promise to maintain free TV licences for the over-75s for the duration of this Parliament by ensuring sufficient funding to do so and, should the BBC propose changes to the concession, to ensure that the proposed changes are subject to parliamentary consent.

The motion is in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, me and others, including the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the SNP.

The debate is about keeping a promise that the Conservative party made on page 66 of its election manifesto just two years ago. In case the Minister has not got a copy, I have managed to find a rare one, which was not shredded, in the Library. It makes for interesting reading. It is called “Forward Together” and claims to be a “Plan for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future”. On page 66, it states:

“We will maintain all other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this Parliament.”

No equivocation, no ambiguity—the Conservative party promised to maintain free TV licences for the duration of this Parliament. Yet we are here today because that promise lies in tatters: 4.5 million older people in receipt of free TV licences could be betrayed unless the Government act.

For many older people, their free TV licence staves off poverty, isolation and loneliness all in one go.