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

It is precisely the same thing. Really I hope hon. Members will give His Majesty's Customs and Excise credit for being a little more up-to-date than would be supposed by a question like that. How is it supposed that we collect the vast revenue of this country? It is because we deal by samples with classes of goods. Wherever we find fraud or evasion we punish. This is not only the result of the activities of the Customs and Excise officials, the information on which we act nearly always comes from the trade itself. When an honest trader, and an honest bookmaker, sees himself being undercut—and bookmakers are just as honest as anybody else—by the dishonest trader, he never hesitates to give information. If a systematic method of defrauding the Revenue such as the hon. Member suggests was in practice in any bookmaker's office, there is not a single clerk who would not know about. it, and if he were dismissed he would give information and we should act upon it. I think I have dealt with all the points—the danger and difficulty of collecting this particular fraction, the danger of evasion, the reason why we have lowered the duty, and the special position of the office and credit bookmaker.

I commend the duty to the House in its final form. It is not too heavy to kill the business. I am confident that it will yield the revenue I set out to obtain. I am confident that the betting business will adapt itself easily and swiftly to the new conditions and that the bookmaker will pass the duty on quite easily. I am hopeful that the differentiation will be found to be .a real benefit to racing and breeders of horses. Everything connected with this duty, I frankly admit, is necessarily of an experimental character; but there is time to make the experiment. I am only counting on £1,500,000 for the present year, and there will be plenty of time, with the actual working of the duty before us, if we choose to make any modifications in the Budget next year which it may seem to be required, in one direction or the other, as the result of actual experience. As the machinery will be in existence, the duty in any altered form can be imposed the moment. the Budget Resolutions are approved, that is before the end of April, before the important flat racing season