Philip Davies MP urges Government consultation to look at making BBC a subscription based service

Philip Davies MP has urged government to go further with its consultation into whether non-payment of the TV licence should remain a criminal offence and make the BBC a subscription based service.

Shipley MP Philip Davies wants the £154.50 annual cost to be replaced with a payment model saying no one should be forced to pay for something they may not want.

Speaking in Parliament he said: “If the BBC is as popular and as value for money as some people say it is, then surely it has nothing to fear at all from going to a subscription model as presumably everybody will be queuing up to pay their subscription as it is such good value for money.

“The reason the BBC is petrified of abolishing the licence fee is that it may realise how unpopular the BBC is and how few people actually want to contribute.”

Mr Davies made the comments in response to an urgent question following the announcement Government has launched an eight-week consultation into whether the non-payment of the licence fee should remain a criminal offence. He also demanded action on plans to scrap free TV licences for over 75s.

Mr Davies added: “I welcome the consultation on decriminalisation, but I urge Government to go further and stop this unjustifiable tax on people that they have to pay whether they want to watch it or not. This is unsustainable in the long run with developments in modern technology. In the meantime, make sure the over 75s do not have to pay.”

Culture and Media Minister Nigel Adams said Government believes it is the responsibility of the BBC to ensure over 75s have free licences.

He added: “Philip is right as we move forward into an increasingly digital age where there are more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, it is clear that many people consider it off that you can go to prison effectively for not paying your licence fee.”

This week Mr Davies was re-elected to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee where he promised to hold the BBC to account and continue to fight plans to make over 75s pay for a TV licence.