11 MAR 2019
TV Licences for over 75s
Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about free TV licences for over 75s and the responsibility for funding the licence.
I realise that you would like me to sign EDM 2046 on this matter, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.
As you know, this decision is now the responsibility of the BBC's Board and the responses the BBC receives to the consultation they ran will help them decide what to do next. I do hope you were able to contribute to this before it closed on the 12th of February and I know they will publish the outcome later this year.
This matter was also raised in the House of Commons on the 13th of February and the PM stated the following:
I recognise the value that people across the country place on having a television, and for many elderly people the connection that brings with the world. That is why the free licences for the over-75s are so important. We have been clear that we want and expect the BBC to continue free licences when it takes over responsibility for the concession in 2020. May I just say that taxpayers rightly want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure that it delivers fully for UK audiences?
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