Clause 20 — Bingo duty
Care Homes (Domestic Pets)
Stewart Hosie (Spokesperson (Economy; Home Affairs; Treasury; Women); Dundee East, Scottish National Party)
We have had a good debate again. We should have these bingo debates more often. They seem to engender real information and real passion from real Members from real communities, which is always a good thing.
Mr. Illsley delivered another excellent defence of bingo clubs and communities, and an excoriating critique of the Government's assessment of the proposed tax changes. Mr. Gummer deduced that the Government have a new doctrine—to tax the poor to help the rich. Ms Taylor made a gentle and thoughtful speech, and rightly made the case that the Government should think again.
Mr. Hands was right to say that there was no justification for a 22 per cent. tax on bingo. He knows that the Government's VAT assessment is flawed. We have just heard the weakest defence of it from the Minister in her summing up. The hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham knows that it is likely that the Revenue was never entitled to levy the tax in the first place, he knows that it takes cognisance, wrongly, of irrecoverable tax. He must not be conned by the Government's attempt to obfuscate. It will be shameful if the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman refuses to back one of the amendments today, when the only person supporting him is the Government Whip. That is how bad the Tory Front-Bench position has become.
Mr. Browne drew attention to the sheer staggering ineptitude of the Government in not seeing the trouble coming down the track. He was right. He also said with some sympathy that the Minister had been given an impossible hand to play. Mr. Bone spoke about the Flutters bingo club in Rushden. I feel as though I have been in it; the description was so intense and detailed. I am delighted that he said that he would support the amendment. Mr. Foster was right to say that not one speaker backed the Government in the debate, either today or on
The Minister said that the effective tax rate for bingo had fallen. I am not convinced. Even if that is true, I am convinced that it leaves a profound unfairness—22 per cent. as opposed to 15 per cent. across the board. The only question is whether I should ask that we delay this for a year, or whether we should stick to the principle of fairness in the entire gaming sector. I think we must stick with the principle. I hope the Tories will find some principle in the next two minutes, and I seek leave to press amendment 4 to a Division.