TV Licences for over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:09 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2:09 pm, 8th May 2019

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I am sure that the BBC will listen to those comments, with which I have considerable sympathy. This was part of a fair deal for the BBC. I have already quoted the director-general of the BBC, but he did also say at the time that it was a strong deal for the BBC and that it provided financial stability—that is important for all viewers, whatever their age—and Parliament agreed, which we have already discussed.

As the House will recognise, the Government have been clear about their expectations on this matter. The Government guaranteed the over-75 concession at least until 2020. We agreed with the BBC, and it was approved by this House, that the future of the concession was the BBC’s decision, and the BBC is rightly operationally independent of the Government. Therefore, this matter is for the BBC. Given the importance of the issue, we have made our expectations clear. Let me just point out that the BBC has undergone a significant and extensive consultation, as it was required to do by law through the Digital Economy Act. The consultation closed in February of this year. It set out a number of options for the future of the concession and it is carefully evaluating the many, many inputs as a result of that consultation.