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 Mr Walter Raine Mr Walter Raine , Sunderland

I am whole heartedly in favour of this tax. I have listened to all the speeches and I have heard nothing to cause me to alter my opinion. If this tax is imposed, it will put an end to the false position in which this country has been for years with regard to betting. I believe it will be the beginning of the end of the tout who preys on the working classes in a way very few people who know the industrial areas realise. If this matter be weighed up, the moral issue is rather on the side of putting on the tax. The great amount of betting that goes on is known to everybody. In reply to the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr), I would ask why should people who make bets not pay honourably if they lose I They are ready enough to collect when they win. I would like to see the whole betting arrangements of this country entirely re-modelled so as to ensure that if people lost they should pay their losses in the same way as an ordinary business debt. I have received a mass of correspondence from various Churches in my constituency. I have replied to everyone with a reasoned argument in favour of the tax. During the 25 years I have been in public life I have made it a rule never to sidetrack any question; whether I was for or against, I spoke out honestly, regardless of the consequences. From various individuals in my constituency I have received far more commendation than I have received kicks. I should like to criticise the Amendment which the Chancellor has put down, namely, to make the tax on field betting 2 per cent. and on credit betting 3i per cent. With regard to credit betting at 3½ per cent., as that is done in large amounts the argument which I am going to put forward is not so strong as it is in connection with the 2 per cent.

I cannot imagine why the Chancellor chose 2 per cent. I should have thought he would have taken 2½ per cent., because 2½ per cent. on a sovereign is 6d., on 10s. 3d., and on 5s. 1½d.; whereas the way it is going to work out is that on the 10s. bet—I am not a betting man myself, but from inquiries I have made, 10s. seems to he the favourite amount to put on—the tax undoubtedly that will be charged by the bookmaker will be 3d. It will be very interesting to hear the explanation the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to give. I can only imagine that the bookmaker, before the race meeting comes off, is going to buy £10 or £20 worth of stamps and be able to put a 3d. stamp on a 10s. card. I think it will be found that the Revenue will lose a great deal which might come to it. If it is not too late for the Chancellor to adopt the 2½ per cent. on field betting, I think the revenue would benefit to a great extent. I hope the Chancellor will take that into consideration. There is nothing that annoys the public so much as to realise that if they are having to pay a tax all of it does not go to the proper source. I hope the Chancellor will take this question into very careful consideration if it is not too late. He, of all people, must realise in the present state of affairs, bow necessary revenue is. There is no reason for losing part of it in. the way I am afraid he will do if he carries out his present intention. I am heartily in favour of the tax. I will not utter any prophecy as to whether the tax is likely to reduce betting or not. It may prevent some people from betting surreptitiously, as they do now. I regard betting as a luxury, and in the present state of the country's finances there is a very good opportunity to collect a considerable amount of revenue at little expense for the good of the country.