HC Deb 25 April 1968 vol 763 c474
33. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Postmaster General if he will exempt elderly pensioners and people on small fixed incomes from any further increase in the television licence fee, and also make regulations to enable people to buy a television licence for periods of three and six months as well as for 12 months.

Mr. Mason

No decision has been taken to increase the licence fee. Much as I sympathise with the hon. and gallant Gentleman's motives exemption would create serious anomolies. Short term licences would call for more staff and add materially to the costs of the licensing service.

Captain Elliot

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that television is a great boon to many elderly people and that, for many of them, relief from expensive television licence fees is just as important as relief from expensive bus fares? Would he seriously consider that? Second, in spite of the increased expense, would he not see whether he could spread the cost of the licence fee over a longer period, since the necessity to produce £5 and even more all at once does cause hardship?

Mr. Mason

The original Question asked me to fix individual licence fees, of which there are 17½ million, so the hon. Gentleman can imagine the time which would be consumed, and the expense and, above all, the work by the Civil Service which would be involved. As to cheaper television licences for old people, I beg the House to remember on this point that old people who have not got a television would receive no benefit at all, and they are probably more needy than those with sets.