Clause 15. — (Betting Duty.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill. – in the House of Commons on 15th July 1926.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Philip Snowden Mr Philip Snowden , Colne Valley

The right hon. Gentleman asks me who are the evangelical members of the Cabinet. I do not think there is sufficient imagination in this House to assume that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could be put into that category and I will not be more definite than to say that the evangelical members of the Cabinet are those members of the Cabinet who appear upon the platforms of the Evangelical Alliance. We know now there is a great deal of foundation for the rumours which have been circulated as to a division in the Cabinet. I do not profess to know what is the cause of it, but I remember last year, when the present Minister of Agriculture was the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, he made some blazing indiscretions in regard to the Finance Bill in a public speech in his constituency. Now, there appeared a very interesting sidelight upon what had been going on in the Cabinet, in regard to this Betting Duty in the newspapers on Sunday and Monday last. The present Minister of Agriculture was speaking in his constituency—at least it was at Elveden and I do not know whether that place is in his constituency or not—but at all events he declared: It had been alleged in the Press that he stated during the by-election that there would be no betting tax. That was absolutely without foundation. What he said was that there was no betting tax under consideration; and if it came under consideration, he would oppose it and point out the difficulties to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his colleagues in the Cabinet. He had already done so. He had urged the difficulties in Committee and in full Cabinet, and they would not expect him—a Conservative Minister—to throw over the Conservative party and join the Socialist party because he could not get his own way in every detail. If there were other members of the Cabinet as indiscreet 'as the Minister of Agriculture, I am sure we should get other interesting information as to the Cabinet view of this duty. I am quite sure it is a great compliment to the pertinacity and influence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he has been able to overcome strong opposition within his own Cabinet and his own party, and has succeeded, so far, in imposing this tax upon the country. In his reply to my speech on a former occasion, he said that I had abandoned the contention or argument that there were any mechanical difficulties in the way of levying this tax. I said so at that time, and it will be remembered that my main objections to this tax were that I did not think it was a good policy for the revenue of the country to be raised from such a source. I had sent to me the other day a letter from a man who is, I assume, in some Government service, because he forwards this extract from the Post Office Rules: Betting and gambling in any shape or form are forbidden, and are regarded as serious offences. Any servant of the Department who is concerned in either renders himself liable to dismissal. I suppose that Rule will be repealed when the betting duty comes into operation.