HC Deb 20 May 1982 vol 24 cc462-3
15. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further representations he has received about the need for all pensioners to be treated equally in respect of concessionary television licence fees.

Mr. Raison

In the past six months, 53 representations have been received from hon. Members and just under 100 direct from members of the public.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that what is really needed is a Bill to wipe out all the anomalies for those pensioners who cannot have the 5p licence fee? Is he aware that Mr. Leslie Gale, a bed-ridden multiple sclerosis victim who lives about four miles from me, has had to be fined because he refused to pay his television licence fee? He has to lie in bed all day. Surely it is now necessary for the Government to have a fresh examination of those anomalies with a view to bringing in a Bill so that all pensioners receive concessionary licences, including the disabled?

Mr. Raison

I do not believe that the best way of dealing with the problem is by a spread of concessions. I have already made the point that local authorities can help the disabled where there is a need for them to do so.

Mr. Dickens

Does my right hon. Friend accept that hon. Members on both sides of the House are anxious that pensioners should have a fair and equal system of television licence concessions? That is what we are fighting for, and we hope that the Front Bench will take it on board eventually.

Mr. Raison

I say again to my hon. Friend that the right way to help pensioners is through their pensions and the amount of money that they have at their disposal. They can spend it as they think best.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the Minister bear in mind that on the Labour Benches we are all agreed that the only satisfactory way of resolving the inequality among pensioners is to phase out television licences for all retirement pensioners?

Mr. Raison

It is a bit much for the hon. Lady to put that to us. She was in office at the Home Office for the best part of six years and nothing was done to follow that policy.

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