Twenty Third Report Contents

Instruments of interest

Communications (Television Licensing) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/339)

10.The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has laid these Regulations with an Explanatory Memorandum. DCMS says that, in the White Paper “A BBC for the Future: a Broadcaster of Distinction” of May 2016, the Government committed to bringing forward regulations to allow the BBC to trial a more flexible payment plan for those facing difficulty in paying the TV licence fee. In amending an earlier instrument,2 these Regulations introduce a Simple Payment Plan licence (SPP) on a trial basis. The SPP licence will cost the same as the standard colour TV licence (£150.50 from 1 April 2018) and can be paid in monthly or fortnightly instalments in a pay-as-you-go model. The SPP licence will be available for a limited period only and for specific groups of TV licence customers. DCMS lists three groups of eligible customers: people who have been questioned under caution for TV licence fee evasion and may face prosecution; people who have sought advice from a debt advice charity about their financial obligations; and people who have recently become unlicensed and missed payments on their previous licence. Following the renewal cycle finishing at the end of September 2019, the BBC will assess the impact of this new licence, and the Government will decide whether a SPP-type licence should be available permanently, and other possible steps to help customers who face difficulty in paying the licence fee.

Branded Health Service Medicines (Costs) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/345)

11.Sections 3 to 6 of the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Act 2017 (“the 2017 Act”) amend the NHS Act 2006 provisions that permit the Secretary of State to control the costs of health service medicines. These Regulations set out the details of the new scheme which is expected to save the NHS £33 million in tax year 2018–19. The main purpose of these Regulations is to provide for a revised statutory scheme which controls the maximum price which may be charged for the supply of branded health service medicines, and requires manufacturers and suppliers of branded health service medicines with annual NHS sales above £5 million to pay to the Secretary of State 7.8% of their net sales income received for the supply of those medicines to the NHS. These Regulations will not apply to those firms who belong to the voluntary 2014 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS). The 2017 Act was introduced, in large part, to enable the statutory scheme to be brought into broad alignment with the 2014 PPRS because the savings produced by the existing statutory scheme were not as high as those generated by the voluntary scheme. As well as benefitting the NHS, the new Regulations aim to ensure a more level playing-field between the companies in the two schemes. The Regulations will also be applied to Northern Ireland, a written statement from the Minister explains the rationale for doing so in the absence of a legislative consent motion.3

2 The Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/692).

3 HL Written Statement, 12 March 2018, HLWS518.

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