Belfast Telegraph

MP Paisley quizzed on billing taxpayer for two television licences

Ian Paisley (PA)
Ian Paisley (PA)
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The DUP's Ian Paisley has defended billing the taxpayer for two television licences for his offices in parliament and his North Antrim constituency.

He was speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan show about the broadcaster's decision to means test the licence fee for the over 75s.

Mr Paisley said the benefit should be retained saying that while there would be tough choices for the BBC to accommodate the loss of income, it had to "come into the modern world, and not go down the way of pick-pocketing pensioners".

Poll: Should TV licences be means tested for the over 75s?

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

He said he was a "huge fan" of the BBC and the broadcaster played an "important national service" and there was not a day passed he did not listen to the BBC.

He said he paid for the service through his licence fee.

On that statement he was asked about the two licences he charged to the taxpayer as part of his MP expense claims.

Mr Paisley explained that was for his political offices and he paid for his own television licence for his private home.

He explained he had two offices - one in London and the other in his North Antrim constituency - and the costs were covered by his expenses as an MP.

He admitted the majority of the time the televisions in the workplaces showed CCTV and there was not the opportunity to watch entertainment programmes given the security restrictions in place on the sets.

"If I didn't pay that I would be breaking the law for not paying for the licence to have a set," he said.

"I have to make a choice. Which parts of those expenses do I use?

"I could use them for other things. I don't use all of my expenses budget but there was enough room in the budget to cover that cost.

"I don't think it is an unreasonable thing."

He added: "If you could take the one licence and use it across the place that would be wonderful, but of course the BBC does not allow you to do that.

"There are a number of anachronistic ways the licence is operated."

He also pointed out that the public would likely be paying for the television licence the BBC has for its televisions in its own Belfast headquarters.

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