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 Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Cardiganshire

I have no doubt that the horse racing community of this country are very grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has met them, but he has declined to meet the petitioners to whom the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Russell) referred. Like the hon. Member for Tynemouth, I have had a very considerable number of petitions sent to me from all over my division, and those petitions are, without exception, pro- tests against the imposition of this duty. The hon. Member for Tynemouth gave several reasons why he supports the duty. His first reason was that it was a good duty, and he added that betting in his view was an unmitigated evil, so great an evil, that so far as he was concerned he intended to evade the duty altogether. If everyone took his view—a very practical view in regard to the duty—the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get no revenue at all. The hon. Member said the tax would be useful, because so great did he regard the evil that a duty such as this would have the effect of reducing it. He welcomed it from that point of view.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer took exactly the opposite point of view, a point of view confirmed by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) when he gave the example of Australia. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if he proposed a duty of 5 per cent., not only would he get revenue of £6,000,000 but revenue of £10,000,000 or .£12,000,000, and he would not know exactly what to do with it. He said, further, that he did not want all this revenue and, therefore, he would reduce the duty. That is the very opposite to the argument of the hon. Member for Tynemouth, whose own argument negates his own purpose. He would have preferred that the duty should have remained at 5 per cent. Is he going to vote for the reduction which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes? I do not know whether the hon. Member who has just spoken will be in the same Lobby as the hon. Member for Tynemouth; if so, they will be voting for the duty for exactly opposite reasons. One hon. Member would support the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he has reduced the duty, and he thinks that will help the racing community, while the hon. Member for Tynemouth will go into the Lobby to vote for it because he thinks it will do something to damage the racing community and to put down the evil to which he objects. One way of dealing with this revenue is not to countenance it at all. That was the opinion of the Departmental Committee which investigated all the evidence, including the evidence of the Churches upon the moral aspect. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer corn mended the duty to the House he attached some importance to the moral side. He did not despise the moral side.