Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:33 pm on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Minister of State 12:33 pm, 21st July 2020

I remind the hon. Gentleman that at the time of the licence fee settlement in 2015, the Government were still having to put right the mess that they had inherited, due to the financial profligacy of the previous Labour Government. Everybody had to play a part in that, and the BBC was included. It was a tough negotiation. I call tell the hon. Gentleman— I was part of the negotiations—that Baroness Fairhead strongly argued the case for the BBC, and the outcome was satisfactory to the BBC and the Government, as was made clear by the BBC at that time. The manifesto commitment to maintaining the licence fee during the 2015 Parliament was maintained, which is why the exemption is only now being removed in 2020.

Any pensioner on a low income will continue to get a free TV licence if they are in receipt of pension credit. Age UK has rightly drawn attention to the fact that quite a number of pensioners do not receive pension credit, even though they are entitled to do so, and one of the consequences of this move, which the Government would welcome, might be an increase in the take-up of pension credit.