HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc3-5
2. Mr. Tinn

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will make a statement on the reasons for the withdrawal of concessionary television licences for groups of elderly people supervised by voluntary wardens within the voluntary warden scheme and the social services department of the Teesside County Borough.

Sir J. Eden

None has been withdrawn but some are being reviewed because it seems possible that they may have been issued to people not eligible for them.

Mr. Tinn

It would seem that some people have been receiving the benefit outside the scope of the regulations, but if that is so it serves only to illustrate once again the anomalies created by the regulations. Will the Minister reconsider the matter and appreciate that nothing more incenses pensioners than the fact that those who are living in local authority sheltered accommodation receive such a valuable concession while those less fortunately placed do not?

Sir J. Eden

I fully understand the points made by the hon. Member and, of course, I also accept that strong feelings are aroused by the position as he has described it. However, the anomalies to which he refers arise out of the situation which was created to overcome even worse anomalies, and I am concerned to ensure that if there were to be any change it would not make the position even worse. It is therefore probably right to leave things as they are at the present time.

Mr. Harper

Surely, as my hon. Friend said, so many anomalies are created by this concessionary licence for old people living in warden accommodation, and so much bitterness is caused, that the only way to tackle the matter is to abolish television licences altogether in this context, or give free licences and recoup the lost revenue from other sources.

Sir J. Eden

I am sure that the hon. Member recognises that his suggestion raises much wider issues. However, it would be helpful in operating the present scheme if, before people were informed about their eligibility for the cheap licence, the conditions were carefully examined and related to the terms of the licence.

4. Mr. Radice

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what representations he has received from the Edmondsley Parish Council on cheap television licences for the aged; and what reply he has sent.

Sir J. Eden

A petition asking for half-price television licences for aged people.

My reply has explained that it is not Government policy to grant licence concessions to particular groups of people, but, instead, to help the needy by giving them cash through the social security system.

Mr. Radice

Is the Minister aware that the petitioners of Edmondsley are speaking for the majority of old people when they ask for cheap television licences for old-age pensioners? Is he aware that television has become so important in the lives of many old people that pressure for action on the matter will continue until either the Government give way or pensions are raised to a reasonable level? Will the right hon. Gentleman change his mind?

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. I think that the hon. Gentleman will equally well recognise the enormous amount of real and practical help that the present Government have given to elderly people.