TV Licences for over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:23 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 3:23 pm, 8th May 2019

The fundamental issue is the future of the BBC. We are not just talking about local radio. If the BBC is forced to continue with concessions and has to pay for them, the whole of radio will go. We are not talking about Gary Lineker’s salary; we are talking about the whole of BBC sport. Some 3% of total sports viewing is now produced by the BBC, but that includes the women’s World cup and women’s netball. All of that will go. It is not small beer.

Some might say that times have changed since 2000, and that pensioners are no more likely to be poor than the rest of the population. However, pensioners are more likely to be lonely, to be ill and to feel the cold at night. The great measures that Gordon Brown brought in—the winter fuel payments, the free bus pass and the TV licence—give pensioners dignity. They are a reward for their contribution to society over many years. Means-testing would completely change the nature of those benefits.

I will conclude with a plea to hon. Members on the Tory Benches, because I do not think this is over yet. A very important commitment was given today by the deputy leader of the Labour party: if there is a general election—as an MP with a majority of 249, I view the idea with mixed feelings, but every day is a bonus—we will go into it with a pledge to fund free TV licences for the over-75s. I will be proud to go into the election with that platform, which I think will definitely be a winner. There will also be a Tory leadership contest, and I think TV licences for the over-75s will be an issue in the shires and among the candidates. Let us break free from the shackles of George Osborne and unite across the House to fully fund the licence fee concession for the over-75s.