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Saturday, 7 February 2015

House of Lords Rejects Decriminalisation of TV Licence Fee


The Freedom Association's Andrew Allison discusses the House of Lords' decision to vote against the decriminalisation of the TV licence fee.

Given the Parliamentary session is drawing to a close - and given a Conservative mandate is far from certain in the new session - it is unlikely this will receive further consideration for several years. It appears, at least in the short-term, that the BBC's gold plated income is guaranteed for a while longer.

The unelected upper chamber was considering Clause 64 of the Deregulation Bill 2014-15, which seeks to replace the current criminal penalties for TV licence evasion with civil monetary penalties instead.

Speaking out in opposition to Clause 64 were Baron Michael Grade, a former BBC Trust chairman, and Baroness Floella Benjamin, who spent her formative years presenting BBC programme Play School.

Andrew explains: "It was a tight vote, with 178 Peers voting in favour of an amendment preventing decriminalisation of non-payment until 1 April 2017. 175 Peers voted against the amendment. If you took away those who have either earned a living out of the BBC, still work for the BBC, or have a BBC pension, the vote would have gone the other way."

Read more on the Freedom Association's website.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would appear that it is already effectively decriminalised in Scotland where non-payment results in a statutory fine which does not attract a criminal record.

Also, I don't think there are any search warrants issued in Scotland in respect of TV licenses.

If anyone knows differently please post!

Admin said...

You are correct on both counts.

The story about search warrants was one of ours: http://tv-licensing.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/no-tv-licensing-search-warrants-granted.html

Fred Bear said...

Yes, in Scotland the enforcement regime is very different to the rest of the UK.

In the financial year 2013-14, there were just 10 prosecutions for TV Licence evasion in Scotland. Virtually all the cases where TV Licence evasion was reported to the authorities were dealt with by a relatively small 'fiscal fine' of £75. This does not count as a prosecution.

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/foi/responses-we-have-made-to-foi-requests/839-tv-licence-fiscal-fines

I doubt very much that the TV Licence will carry on in its present form - despite the House of Lords vote.

I also note that on page 994 of the TVL's 'Ask Help Script', concerning licence fee enforcement on the Channel Islands, the visit and prosecution section has been 'Redacted under section 31 (“law enforcement”) of the Freedom of Information
Act'.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/225306/response/571034/attach/3/RFI20141344%20Nath%20Disclosure%20Document%201.pdf

I suspect this means they don't bother much with prosecuting TV Licence evaders on the Channel Islands. It's probably not worth their while.