Clause 15. — (Betting Duty.)

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

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Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Cardiganshire

He said he was not going to be drawn into the moral issue, and that all that he was concerned with was obtaining revenue. I cannot understand why if he is primarily concerned with obtaining revenue he has not kept the duty at 5 per cent. Why does he reduce it? Is it merely to meet the views of the racing community? Is it because they have such weight with the Treasury that they have to be obliged? The churches of the country gave their evidence before the Departmental Committee, and stated their reasons cogently. It is all very well to say, as did the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he is not doing anything to alter the law in regard to betting but it will be inevitable in the course of very few years that the law will have to be changed. You are recognising what the Chancellor's own supporters regard as an evil. You are doing something to entrench that evil in this country. There was evidence before the Committee which clearly showed that in the opinion of a good many witnesses it was a greater evil than the drink evil. Testimony was given that money sorely needed to reestablish industry was taken from productive purposes and used to a large extent for this unproductive purpose. Yet the Chancellor disregards the whole of the moral weight, and the whole of the petition. Even if the Chancellor gets £6,000,000 and thereby eases the Revenue to that extent, it will he money dearly bought from a moral point of view. That is the view of the great bulk of the Churches. These people are concerned as to the opinion of the social workers. They meet the conditions at first hand. They are quite as much experts on that side of the question as the Chancellor's advisors are on the financial aspect. The moral aspect of any question is the most important. This country wants reestablishment of the moral sense, industrially and otherwise. You do nothing to assist or develop the growth of that sense when you impose a duty of this kind which affects a change which should never be affected in this country.