§ Mr. Butcher
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he proposes any changes in the licence fees payable under the Wireless Telegraphy Act for services other than broadcasting.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Licence fees for private users of radio were last reviewed as long ago as February 1978, and rising costs alone have now made it necessary to revise them to avoid a loss to public funds. Regulations have therefore been laid today setting new fees with effect from 1 January 1981.
A survey of existing fees has shown that charges hitherto levied for ships and miscellaneous licences in particular have not met the direct costs involved in these fields. The revised fees will therefore ensure that each of the major groups—private mobile radio, ships, aircraft, amateur and miscellaneous—will be self-financing, and for this reason different percentage increases have been applied to individual fees. I am also taking the opportunity to introduce a new method of charging private mobile radio fees while raising the same overall amount, and to discontinue the practice of collecting pro rata fees for increases in the number of stations during the period of a licence. This will save work both for the Government and for the user.
Following a review of the radio regulatory department of the Home Office, Sir Derek Rayner has recommended that licence fees should reflect a proportion of the unrecovered overheads of the Department as well as the direct cost of licensing, in recognition of the benefits which licence holders derive from the Department's national and international planning and other activities. I have accepted this recommendation in principle. I am still considering what the appropriate proportion should be and how it should be distributed, but I have decided that as an interim measure the new fees should reflect 20 per cent. of the unrecovered overheads.