Cabinet reshuffle: Minister in charge of the BBC's future believes the licence fee is 'worse than a poll tax'

The PM is unshackled by the demands of coalition for the first time

Prime Minister David Cameron poses for a photo with the newly elected Conservative Party MPs in Palace Yard on May 11, 2015 in London, England
Prime Minister David Cameron poses for a photo with the newly elected Conservative Party MPs in Palace Yard on May 11, 2015 in London, England

David Cameron has unveiled his first all-Conservative cabinet as he prepares for another five years of government – this time without the Liberal Democrats.

Unshackled from the constraints of Coalition the Prime Minister has appointed a number of radical right-wing ministers that would have likely been subject to a veto by the liberals.

One of the Conservative MP appointed by David Cameron to oversee the future of the BBC believes the licence fee is “unsustainable” and “worse than a poll tax”.

John Whittingdale, who has been appointed as Culture Secretary, said in October that the compulsory charge to fund the BBC should be eventually ended.

“It's actually worse than a poll tax because under the poll tax, if you were on a very low income you would get a considerable subsidy,” he said.

“The BBC licence fee, there is no means-tested element whatsoever; it doesn't matter how poor you are, you pay £145.50 and go to prison if you don't pay it.

“I think in the longer term we are potentially looking at reducing at least a proportion of the licence fee that is compulsory and offering choice … When I say it's unsustainable I am talking about over 20-50 years.”

MP John Whittingdale

Mr Whittingdale, who previously chaired the House of Commons Media Select Committee, will oversee negotiations about the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter as one of his first acts.

He made his comments about the charge at a question time event held at the Bafta.

Mr Whittingdale also has a strongly right-wing record on parliamentary votes.

According to the site They Work For You, which collates the way MPs have voted, he has voted very strongly against equal gay rights, strongly against the fox hunting ban, very strongly against equal marriave and moderately against laws to promote equality and human rights.

He voted very strongly for the Iraq war, very strongly for replacing Trident, and moderately against more EU integration.

Priti Patel has been appointed as a DWP minister

The Conservative MP replaces the old culture secretary, Sajid Javid, who has been appointed to be the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills.

The appointment is part of a wider government reshuffle after the election; among those appointed is Conservative MP Priti Patel, who is now the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Ms Patel, who has previously said that she would support the reintroduction of capital punishment, is generally considered to be on the political right of the Conservative party.

She will oversee parts of Britain’s welfare state and report to Iain Duncan Smith, who will remain as the Work and Pensions Secretary.

Amber Rudd has been appointed as Energy Secretary

In September 2011 Ms Patel told the BBC’s Question Time programme that she would support the reintroduction of the death penalty because she believed it would act as a deterrent to crime.

“I have said this before and I say this again: I do think that when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in the country and where we have seen murderers and rapists … reoffend and do those crimes again and again I think that’s appalling,” she said.

“On that basis alone I would support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”

There was good news for environmentally-minded Conservatives, however, with the appointment of Amber Rudd as Energy Secretary. Rudd has repeatedly asserted her commitment to green investment, tackling climate change, and reducing emissions.

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