Friday, February 6, 2015


The BBC has reason to be grateful to Lord Grade, for his parliamentary manoeuvre which should mean that any new way of enforcing licence-fee payment should be part of the next Charter deal (if the licence fee indeed survives).

Since March last year, when Tory MP Andrew Bridgen set the de-criminalisation hare running, Maria Miller, Chris Grayling, David Cameron and Sajid Javid have been setting a different timetable, with a review due in June, and action straightaway after that.

I'm in favour of taking non-payment away from the criminal courts - but believe the impact on the BBC's funds would be much more than £200m a year. The cost of civil action, bailiffs and the rest will be way more the return of £149.50; avoidance will grow and grow over the years ahead. That must be in the mix when a Charter is agreed.

So thanks to Lord Grade and five other Tories who voted to delay any such move until April 2017 - Lord (Norman) Fowler, Lord (Geoffrey) Howe, Lord Inglewood, Lord (Tim) Renton, and Lord (William) Garel-Jones. It scraped through by 178 votes to 175.  All Labour peers who voted were with Lord Grade; 47 Libdems voted against - perhaps they didn't understand the issue.

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