HC Deb 25 October 1972 vol 843 cc1185-7
28. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what studies he has made into the cost of extending the rebate scheme for unused portions of television licences.

The Minister for Aerospace (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has carefully considered widening the scope for television licence refunds. But to do so would add too greatly to the complexity and cost of administering the licence system. He has decided therefore to maintain the policy of successive Governments of allowing refunds only when the need for a licence has not excedeed 28 days.

Mr. Huckfield

Will not the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to reconsider the shameful treatment that his Department has meted out to my constituent Mrs. Storer, who recently moved into old people's accommodation, having conscientiously paid her £7 television licence, only to be told that she qualified for the 5p concessionary licence? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to tell the Post Office to stop being so petty and miserly and to give my constituent back her £6.95?

Mr. Heseltine

My right hon. Friend has carefully considered the case of the hon. Gentleman's constituent and has concluded that in all the circumstances he would be right to continue the practice of the Labour Government in following the rules that that Government laid down.

Mr. Lipton

Is the Department giving any consideration to the general problem of old people and making further concessions regarding the licences that they took out—say, half-price licences or something of that kind?

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will accept that this is a matter on which he would no doubt like to put a Question to my right hon. Friend when he returns.

Mr. John D. Grant

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that recently I have been in correspondence with his right hon. Friend and suggested that he might consider quarterly licences for pensioners as one way of getting round the problem but that I got a very dusty answer on the lines that he could not consider selectivity in this way? Why cannot the Government, who are so wedded to selectivity in every other sphere, exercise a little selectivity on behalf of pensioners in this sphere?

Mr. Heseltine

I think that, having considered the policy of the Labour Government in detail, they probably found that on this rare occasion they were right.