HC Deb 23 February 1966 vol 725 cc396-7
40. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Postmaster-General what further steps he is taking to improve the collection of television licences.

Mr. Benn

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave on 15th December to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun).

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his Answer, but will he now tell the House what steps he intends to take to get this money, payment of which is being evaded? It would amount to about £10 million. Unless he can secure this money, is the B.B.C. to come to him next time and ask him to put the television licence fee up?

Mr. Benn

This is a serious problem. As the hon. Gentleman knows, a dealers' scheme is under consideration. We have doubled the number of detector cars on the road. As I told the House earlier, we estimate that 250,000 licences were taken out in 1964, the last year for which we have complete figures, as a result of these methods. The difficulty is that this is a cosily business; the administrative costs in dealing with television licences are very high and, beyond a certain point, they tend really to be too expensive.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Will my right hon. Friend consider raising the penalties for non-payment to a very high level?

Mr. Benn

That would not be a matter for me.

Forward to