BBC TV licence row: MPs demand VOTE on free TV licences as 3.7m pensioners face knife

BBC TV licence row: MPs demand VOTE on free TV licences as 3.7m pensioners face knife

A group of Labour MPs have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which expresses regret at there being no proposals to protect the concession in the Prime Minister’s legislative programme.

They warn that 3.7 million pensioners across the UK could lose their free TV licence as a result of the policy, adding this will lead to an increase in poverty and loneliness.
The Conservative Party election manifesto in 2017 pledged to protect free licences.

But the benefit will be restricted to those on pension credit from June 2020, with the BBC saying it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.

The free TV licence was introduced in 2000 but the BBC agreed to take on responsibility for deciding future policy and funding for the scheme as part of the charter agreement in 2015.

Those found to be ineligible for a free licence will have to pay £154.50 a year for a colour television and £52 a year for black and white.

Labour’s Hugh Gaffney (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) is the lead name on the amendment, which says it “respectfully regrets that there were no proposals to save free TV licences for all those aged 75 and over contained in the Gracious Speech”.

It adds: “Notes that there are 3.7 million pensioners across the UK who face losing their free TV licence; recognises that the loss of free TV licences will increase both poverty and loneliness among pensioners; believes that the decision to end free TV licences is as a result of the funding deal done between the Government and BBC in July 2015; and calls on the Government to reassume financial responsibility for free TV licences for all those aged 75 and over before the changes to eligibility come into effect in June 2020.”

Votes on the Queen’s Speech will take place next week and it is the responsibility of Commons Speaker John Bercow to decide which amendments are selected for consideration.

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment seeking a “people’s vote” on a choice between any new Brexit deal and remaining in the EU.

Labour’s shadow business team has put forward a proposal which expresses regret at there being no proposals to ban fracking and calls on the Government to bring forward legislative measures to do so “with immediate effect”.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’s amendment demands action on the “climate emergency” and also pushes for votes at 16, among other suggestions.

Published at Wed, 16 Oct 2019 10:52:00 +0000