HC Deb 10 June 1974 vol 874 cc483-4W
Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what assistance towards the cost of television licences is available to the blind; what is the justification for such assistance; and whether she will bring forward proposals to extend such assistance to the deaf.

Mr. Alfred Morris

The fee charged by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department to blind people for television licences is £1.25 less than the standard fee. This concession is derived from the free wireless licences for the blind introduced in 1926. The last independent committee which inquired into broadcasting, the Pilkington Committee, described this concession as anomalous but said that, while no one would dream of withdrawing it, it should not be taken as a precedent for reducing or waiving licence fees payable by other classes of user. The equivalent reduction —£1.25—in the combined sound and television licence fee was continued when the separate licensing of sound radio reception was abolished in 1971. There are no plans to introduce reduced-rate licences for people with other disabilities such as deafness, but local authorities are empowered under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 to meet the whole or any part of the cost of television licences in individual cases.

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