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Free TV Licences: over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 12:45 pm, 11th June 2019

The hon. Gentleman says that we should ask Conservative party leadership contenders whether they will bring this obligation back to the taxpayer. I hope that he will ask the same question of Opposition Front Benchers, and not just that question but the follow-up question: if they intend to do that, where will they find the money to pay for it? Will they cut elsewhere? Will they borrow more? That follow-up question must be asked of all those who argue that we should reverse course on what Parliament voted for in 2017.

The hon. Gentleman says that the Government knew what they were doing when this arrangement was made in 2015. I suggest that the BBC also knew what it was doing. It is important to remember what the BBC said at the time. Let met quote what the director-general of the BBC said on the “Today” programme after the deal was done in 2015:

“The Government’s decision here to put the cost of the over-75s on us has been more than matched by the deal coming back for the BBC.”

That is what he said. If we all enter these deals with our eyes open—we all should—we should all be responsible for the decisions we take.