HC Deb 15 January 1976 vol 903 cc570-1
13. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of administering the collection of television licences between 1st April 1975 and 1st January 1976.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

The total cost of television licence collection and enforcement work for the period from 1st April 1975 to 31st December 1975 was £12.9 million.

Mr. Ridley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large proportion of that money is spent on the illegal collection of licences and the harassment of those who are properly observing the law? What suggestions has he to put forward to compensate the taxpayer for having refused to repay this money? Since the Government always appear prepared to spend taxpayers' money in pursuit of their own aims, is it not time that some token payment was made by the right hon. Gentleman and others responsible for this waste of money at a time when the Government are already overspent by £12 billion a year?

Mr. Jenkins

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by "a large proportion". The costs involved were £72,000 in collecting the money, which is a little over .05 per cent. of the total I gave. I made a statement to the House indicating that we acted to try to collect revenue not to dissipate it. It was necessary to try to collect the money for the BBC, but the Court of Appeal decided that to do so was not proper. I accepted that decision immediately. I do not know what other way I could have acted—unless the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that I make a personal repayment, which I am afraid would be beyond my resources.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

What progress has my right hon. Friend made towards removing the anomalies involved in the previous concession to elderly persons in respect of television licences?

Mr. Jenkins

I have nothing to report on that aspect. I fear that we meet the basic problem that as soon as we make concessions in a matter of this kind, anomalies are inevitable. The only way to avoid anomolies is to make no concessions.

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