Baroness Hoey: Licence fee “should be abolished”

Baroness Catharine Hoey called for the television licence fee to be scrapped in a speech made in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The former Labour MP said the time had come for the regressive telly tax to be replaced with a “choice-based alternative”.

Addressing the House of Lords, Ms Hoey said: “Isn’t it time that the government recognises that older people are turning off the BBC, and younger people have never even turned on.”

Ms Hoey continued to describe the licence fee represents “a bygone age” and “should be abolished”.

The government announced last week that following a consultation it had decided not to proceed with decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee but to keep the matter under review.

In a written statement to Parliament, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said that while “the government remains concerned that a criminal sanction for TV licence evasion is increasingly disproportionate and unfair… the issue of decriminalisation will remain under active consideration while more work is undertaken to understand the impact of alternative enforcement schemes.”

Ms Hoey pressed the government on the admission by Mr Dowden that sanctions were “disproportionate and unfair”, asking how the government can therefore justify “the continued harrassment, intimidation and bullying to the many elderly households just trying to survive in the midst of a pandemic?”