I could not agree more. I am 100% behind what my hon. Friend has said. This is not just about being able to make brilliant programmes that challenge international players such as Netflix, Amazon and Sky; it is about giving the BBC the money to fund fresh talent pipelines and support local news, radio, and educational channels such as CBBC, CBeebies, Bitesize and Writers Room. We must not forget that the BBC is the only body that has an obligation to prove that it has entry-level schemes for people around the country and not just in London, which is important to many working-class young people in particular.
“A disgrace” and “deeply unfair” are two of the ways in which respondents characterised this move, and they are echoed in my inbox by many constituents. I am proud that the Labour party introduced free TV licences for the over-75s in 2000, and I believe it is shameful for the Government now to pass the buck to the BBC. The solution is clear, and it is in the Government’s gift: they should honour the promise that they made in 2017. David Attenborough, our national treasure, who spoke out against the move while acknowledging that he would be in a position to pay if he had to, said:
“One has to remember that there are old people who aren’t earning anything.”
This is an opportunity to do the right thing for millions of people, and I sincerely hope that the Government take it.