Clive Betts MP [Sheffield South East] has described the decision to end the Free TV Licence for more than 4000 over-75s in his constituency as “disgraceful”.
“We are witnessing yet another broken promise from this Conservative government. This decision to end Free TV Licences is on a par with Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg’s broken promise on student tuition fees. It’s disgraceful.
What those two promises have in common is that they were clearly made in full knowledge that they were going to be broken. No wonder ordinary people have become sceptical about politicians’ statements.”
Clive Betts said:
“The Conservative Party Manifesto for the 2017 General Election stated
“We will maintain all…pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament.”
There is no ambiguity. There are no ifs, no buts.
But now, more than 3.7 million pensioners are to be betrayed. More than 1.8 million will lose their free licence. More than 4000 of them live in my constituency. More than 20,000 of them live in Sheffield.”
Clive Betts continued:
“What is even more astonishing is the Ministerial acceptance that it was a promise that the Conservative Government was actually incapable of keeping. This was because it had forced the BBC to take responsibility for Free-TVs in the negotiations about the BBC budget and the Licence Fee.
I asked the Minister, Jeremy Wright, what mechanism he intended to use to keep his own manifesto promise if, at the same time, he had given that power to the BBC.*
All he could say was that the government had given the statutory power to the BBC to make the decision, and that he regretted the decision that had been taken, which was always the inevitable result.
Of course, the BBC should never have been forced to take this responsibility and it should never have agreed to take this responsibility.
As the former Minister (Conservative MP Ed Vaizey) said:
“The Government should either take back the policy or support the BBC changes. They should not use weasel words to undermine the changes that the BBC has made.”
It is little wonder that the electors have shunned the Conservative Party.”