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 Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping

In this case they will have to be given. There is no difficulty where tickets are used by the duty being passed on to the customer. Now we come to the question of office betting. We are told that the office bookmaker will not be able to raise the betting odds so as to deal with the higher rate of 3½ per cent. which he has to pay. There will be no difficulty in the office bookmaking.

There are all sorts of methods of dealing with that. In the first instance, nearly the whole of the starting price betting is done off the course, although the starting price is fixed on the course. If the bookmaker cannot pass on the extra 1½ per cent. on the odds, there is no reason at all why the credit bookmaker should not charge a fee adequate to indemnify himself for the 1½ per cent. which will be collected on his turnover by the State. If he likes, he can charge 1½ per cent. on the winnings only, instead of on the turnover. He will thus only be out of pocket the difference between 97 and 100 per cent., namely, 3 per cent. of 1½ cent. That by no means exhausts the resources of the credit bookmakers. Quite apart from the odds and quite apart from the fees which he is entitled to charge, there remains what I call the code of rules, which play a very important part in the relationship between the credit bookmaker and his clients—the rules which prevent bets being accepted before a certain time, beyond a certain date, or beyond a certain amount. I am bound to go into these details. I am not coming forward with this tax pretending it had not been carefully studied and worked out, and I should be ashamed if the House thought we had not laboured long over every one of those details. We are sure that with all these different methods which are open to the office bookmaker he will have no difficulty in passing on not only the 2 per cent. which we believe will be reflected in the odds, but the 1½ per cent. additional which will apply to him.

I come to the last point that has been raised, and that is the question whether we are not opening the door to wholesale evasion. The hon. Member for Great Yannouth told us how if he were not a moral and respectable Member of Parliament he would evade this duty. He said that what he would do is to instruct his bookmaker that whenever he said £10 he meant £1.