TV Licences for over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk 3:15 pm, 8th May 2019

That is a completely different point, and let me explain why—[Interruption.] Calm down; give me a moment. The original response—Patricia Gibson made this point, very fairly—was that it is about universality. The justification for providing free TV licences regardless of wealth is that they are a universal benefit.

As my right hon. Friend Mr Whittingdale pointed out, however, eligibility for a free TV licence over the age of 75 was introduced only in 2000. There is no way that anyone could say it was a fundamental tenet of the welfare state contract—something that someone would expect to receive in exchange for their contributions—unlike treatment on the national health service, which has been there since just after the war and is very clearly based on the principle of paying into the system, sharing risk and receiving. I think most people accept that point.