John Howell (Henley) (Con)
Lord Hall is quoted today as saying that many feel that
"the Government should continue to foot the Bill."
Does the Secretary of State have an idea of what caused the change of thinking in the BBC? Would he like to say a little more about what he expects the BBC to do to support older people?
I do not know what caused the change of view. There has been a gradual process—a transition—during which public subsidy has diminished and the BBC's responsibility for covering the cost has increased, so this is not an immediate, overnight change. The BBC has covered such costs in larger and larger amounts for two years. It is up to the BBC to determine what more it feels it can do to support those must vulnerable pensioners.
For those asking what more can we do, I think I have made it clear. The Government have already done a huge amount for pensioners. We have made substantial inputs into ensuring that the poorest pensioners in our society are properly supported. The BBC needs to talk about and think about what more it can do. That is exactly the conversation I intend to have.