I left off at the word "feeling." I was speaking about the feeling of the professionals about this discrimination between the summer game of cricket and the winter game of soccer. Meantime, I have used my time wisely and checked this up with Mr. Guthrie, chairman of the Association Players' Union. He says that I am correct in that they were almost on the point of mutiny on the question of playing in Coronation charity matches. The feeling among hon. Members opposite that cricket is somehow "the" traditional game is typically Tory. It is something like their views about public schools, and what I term neo-Disraelian mumbo-jumbo.
But I return to the question of football. To suggest that football clubs are wealthy and that the directors of Chelsea and other clubs wear gold watch chains and smoke fat cigars is a complete myth. There are only about six clubs in that category and they include the Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and the best club in the country—my own—Newcastle United.
I should like to quote some figures about the takings in the last two years at my adopted club, which is Fulham. Through many causes, not least the incidence of the Entertainments Duty, their average gates fell in 1952 to 22,000 a match compared with 37,000 in 1951. The duty they paid in 1951 was about £5,895, but last year they paid well over £12,000—to be exact £12,169. I take two games to show the enormous difference over the last two years since hon. Gentlemen opposite came into power. When Fulham played Liverpool two years ago there was a gate of £2,590 and tax of £210 was paid. Last year when Fulham played Sunderland there was a gate of £2,796 but the duty was £536— nearly three times the amount paid in the season before.
The club is in debt to the extent of £23,000 and I gather that Bristol City is in debt to the extent of about £40,000. What does this mean? It means that teams like this who had their stands blitzed during the war have insufficient liquid capital to enable them to be returned to their former glory. This duty is crippling the clubs.
I should like to make a few comments about non-fashionable clubs. When I was younger and not quite so corpulent I played with both amateur and professional clubs. In the Birmingham League we had sides which were nearly all professional. There is one amateur team Moor Green, but for the rest the teams have a wage bill of between £47 and £60 a week for the eight, 10 or 12 ex-League footballers who play for them.
What is happening in the Midlands and elsewhere is that the football fans of both games—both the 15 and the 11 aside— see that the Soccer clubs are finding it difficult to make ends meet. In my town of Rugby where there are tens of thousands of skilled engineers who look forward to seeing their favourite sides play every Saturday afternoon, the men note that Rugby is exempt from this duty. That meant a difference of about £205 in the last year for the local rugby club the "Lions." But the town's Soccer side which plays in the Birmingham League has no exemption and, with its wages bill, it has a difficult job to make ends meet and it may well go out of existence in the coming season.
It is the professional sides in the minor leagues like the North Eastern League, the Cheshire County League, the Southern League and the Midlands League, with teams like Denaby and Newark, and the Birmingham League which need some alleviation and hemp, as opposed to the amateur rugger clubs which have no wages bills and may not need exemption. Football fans who like to watch and to play both games feel that the amateurs are getting away with it first in the summer game of cricket, as well as in the winter game of rugby, as compared with the professional game of soccer.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary would spend some time with me in a few village pubs they would soon take a different view of the matter. We shall see many clubs go out of existence, not merely the minor sides but third division teams like Newport County and Accrington Stanley, which are having a very thin time. As with speedway last year and as with cricket this year, football also has an excellent case on the ground of financial distress.
These games are attended by hundreds of thousands of sport-loving workers. In my constituency there are some of the most skilled engineers in the Midlands or indeed in the world, and in the firms of British Thomson-Houston and English Electric Company, and they form the capital of the electrical engineering industry. These men do not want to see their favourite sides go out of existence. But that is what will happen if no change is made. I am happy to support the Amendment and even happier to plead with the Financial Secretary—and I note his careworn face—to show some slight mercy to these minor football clubs.
I intervene at this moment not with any intention of bringing about a shortening of the debate itself. We are discussing one of the most important matters in the Finance Bill, and as one who was not only a modest cricketer but also a footballer in bygone days, I have a great interest in the subject. I also have my name to an Amendment which, unfortunately, has not been selected. Therefore, I think that justifies my saying a few words in support of the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith).
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have faced one another in the House of Commons for over 18 years, and I must say that last night I thought he lived up to his reputation as a very skilled bat for his side. I am not sure that he made a very big score, but he lived up to the reputation that he developed in the years just before the war. The Chancellor was then regarded as one who played, perhaps, the straightest bat of any in the Government of that time, even to the extent of being their champion stone-waller. It may be that at football he was also a good goalkeeper, because I understand that the Chancellor is interested not only in cricket but also in Soccer.
Yesterday, he concentrated his skill on justifying his attitude towards the game of cricket, without seeking in any way to answer the charge that we are making that he is discriminating against these other national sports. I was more than interested in the Chancellor's speech, because I found that, although he referred to column 282 of the debate of 6th May last year, he did not refer to what he said in column 279. He was referring to the very great difficulty of differentiating between the different types of sports, and I find that he said:
If, for example, one is simply going to move down football and cricket, one then leaves hockey, lacrosse, tennis and baseball in the higher scale. How is one to differentiate between one of these sports and another? Can one try and lay down some, shall we say, artistic test. …? Would one have a song in one's heart if one saw the flashing bat of Spooner, and would one put cricket in the artistic scale? I do not think the artistic test would do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1952; Vol. 500, c. 279.]
I think there is a great deal to be said for the view that cricket does introduce the artistic approach. Indeed, 1 think we may say that about professional football. I do not know whether the Chancellor saw the Cup Final, but if he did I think he would agree that the play of Stanley Matthews was the play of a great artist in this particular game. The Chancellor also talked about having "a song in his heart," and I hope he will
have a song in his heart tonight and respond to the appeals that are being made from both sides of the Committee to make some concession on this question of Entertainments Duty.
Reference has also been made to another part of the speech which the Chancellor made last year, in which he referred to the fact that cricket occupies a special place among sports. Many hon. Members have an equal interest in both football and cricket, and I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman would want to suggest that cricket is the only sport that has a special place amongst the sports of this country. I shall not follow the historical references made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) yesterday, but it is the fact that, historically speaking, football is a much older game than cricket in this country.
There was a time, as the Chancellor well knows, when both cricket and football were having to struggle to maintain their existence against restrictive laws which had been passed because of the insistence on what was said to be the national pastime—archery. I find that there is a reference in a book by Sir William Dugdale to General (Sliver Cromwell, who is described as having thrown himself into a dissolute and disorderly course, becoming famous for football, cricket and wrestling, and acquiring the name of Royster. I think we have gone a long way from that attitude to the games of cricket and football.
Our case today is not one of criticism. I certainly very strongly approve of what the Chancellor has done in the interests of cricket, but today we ask him to do something in the interests of the various games of football, and we believe that there is a very strong case in support of what we are urging.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who is not now in his place, laid great stress on the fact that 60 million people watch professional football each season, and that presumably spreads out the incidence of the duty and therefore minimises its effect. I think the hon. Gentleman is labouring under a fallacy, because the 60 million people, as far as I can understand from figures I have received from the Football Association, are obviously made up of an attendance of two million people per week for 30 weeks of the season. If there is a hardship, then it is a hardship on each of the two million people present at each of the 30 weeks of the season, and therefore I do not think there is very much in that argument.
I ask the Chancellor to look at the matter from this point of view. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) pointed out the importance of professional football in the example which it sets in developing interest in football. I would go further and say that the team spirit, which is so important not only in sport but in every sphere of life, is another very important factor in respect of which we owe a great deal to the clubs and associations of this country.
For example, I find that there are 400 professional clubs and 30,000 amateur clubs—I am talking only about Association football—7,000 professional players and 750,000 amateur players. The Chancellor might suggest that that only lessens the problem, because amateur clubs and players do not have to pay Entertainments Duty and nor do the people who watch them; but I would say that the standard of football, which is as high in this country as anywhere in the world, does to a great extent depend upon the standard of play of this smaller number of professional clubs. Therefore, if there be a problem so far as the professional clubs are concerned, it might well play a part in lowering the efficiency and the standard of football in this country, with consequent effects which none of us desire.
I should have thought that the one argument which could be adduced by whoever is to reply to this debate is the financial one—where is the money coming from? I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that in his Budget last year— and I am not criticising him for doing so—he gave away £40 million, and this year he has given away over £200 million. That being so, the answer to critics like the hon. Member for Kidderminster is that another £1,500,000 would not make such a great difference.
Regarding alternative forms of taxation, I think the Financial Secretary would agree that it is hardly the function of the Opposition to make such suggestions. It is for the Government to provide alternative forms of taxation. The Chancellor has been under such great pressure tonight, and such a convincing case has been made in favour of the Amendment, that I think we can hope that he will accept it and thus enable the Committee to proceed with the Bill.
I wholly agree with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) in his very well-expressed appreciation of the merits of football and the part it plays in providing wholesome and agreeable recreation to many millions of our fellow countrymen. But I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that agreement with that general proposition does not conclude the matter since there are many activities both wholesome and agreeable which have to bear in these days their share of the burden of taxation.
A good deal of this debate and a certain amount of what has just been said by the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) has turned on the general issue of discrimination. Perhaps inevitably a good deal of that repeated the debate which took place directly on that issue last night, and for that reason I do not think it necessary for me fully to traverse the ground covered by my right hon. Friend last night. I think that is the less necessary if hon. Members reflect on the conditions of the debate in which we are now taking part.
As I understand it, the broad principle of discrimination was settled by the decision taken by the Committee last night. What we are now debating is an Amendment which, whether accepted or defeated, still leaves discrimination in existence. It would leave a system of discrimination in existence, not less, as the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) says, but with the line drawn at another place. Therefore, I hope that we can discuss this issue without too much discussion of the general issue of discrimination which was fully dealt with last night. I shall endeavour to address my argument to what I understand is the real point raised by this Amendment. Accepting discrimination, should that discrimination be so placed as to put football with cricket on one side of the line, or should it remain in its present position?
That, as I understand it, is the issue, and I submit to the Committee that on that basis there is some obligation on those hon. Members who urge this discrimination in favour of football to show that there are real, practical and conclusive grounds for giving it that particular attention. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to see that I carry hon. Members with me in that proposition because we want to conduct this debate on a reasonable basis. Therefore, I need not waste any time in dealing with one or two observations which have been made of a rather general nature, and, in some cases, of a rather prejudicial nature, on the question of discrimination.
In the background of the decision which we shall have to make on that point there are two considerations which are to some extent material. In the first place, football has been subject to Entertainments Duty since 1916. Though the rates have varied from time to time, the subjection of this sport to Entertainments Duty has continued under a wide variety of Governments—including no less than three formed by the party opposite—and during a wide variety of national and international conditions.
We are, therefore, dealing with a state of affairs which has lasted for 37 years, and while, of course, that is not conclusive, if hon. Members think there has been such a change as to justify an alteration in the position it is perhaps a little bit material, bearing in mind the somewhat exaggerated observations made by one or two hon. Members, to recall that this is not a new impost, but an impost which, in greater or less degree, has fallen on that sport under a variety of Governments for a longer time than practically anybody, except my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, has been in this House.
I am trying to put as reasonably as I can a coherent argument, and when I have finished that part of it I will gladly give way to the right hon. Gentleman.
We are not discussing, as one might have thought from one or two of the speeches that have been made today, an imposition of a tax on an activity hitherto untaxed. We are discussing the continuation of a tax upon an activity which all Governments for 37 years have thought an appropriate subject for tax.
I made that abundantly clear; I said there had been a variety of rates. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that this Amendment does not bear on that question at all, because it seeks to exempt football from the tax. The right hon. Gentleman's interjection would have validity if it were made in support of an Amendment to reduce the rate of tax. With great respect, it has no validity when what he is seeking to do is to support an Amendment which goes to the root of the question whether this activity should be taxed at all, leaving the precise rate out of account for the moment. I think he appreciates that perfectly clearly.
It is my duty to give a reasonable statement of the Government's point of view, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will realise that it is not easy to do that if one has to give way and apply one's mind to a wide variety of points which hon. Members think important.
The first consideration is that this is no new imposition of tax. The next point that has been very much underrated in this debate is the great degree of relief which my right hon. Friend's proposals embody for football. I shall not again go over the question of relief for the amateur clubs, but in this field of football this relief is, of course, of very great significance and is a welcome relief to a very substantial number of clubs. Against the background of those discussions it really is a little unfair to underrate the welcome concession which my right hon. Friend has felt able to make to the amateur players and clubs.
It is also worth bearing in mind that when we come to the next Clause of this Bill there is a concession in respect of duty on season tickets, which I understand will be of particular benefit to football and will be at any rate some concession in respect of those professional clubs which do not receive the benefit of the amateur concession. Therefore, the background to this issue is not, as one would have thought from some of the speeches which have been made, a situation in which no recognition has been given to the merits and value of this game. On the contrary, an advance has been made, particularly in respect of amateurs, which right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not feel able to make when they were responsible.
This also meets the point of view which was put forward in a quotation placed before hon. Members during last year's debate by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) from the Secretary of the Football Association, Sir Stanley Rous, who said:
I do hope M.P.s will stress the fact that Association football is not really composed of a few big League clubs. It is true that they attract the money and the tax, but what I am so deeply concerned about is the effect of the Entertainments Duty on thousands of amateur clubs up and down the country, with their million players or so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1952; Vol. 500, c. 321.]
That was the view expressed through my hon. Friend last year by a very responsible person in this particular world.
When hon. Members are making up their minds whether my right hon. Friend's proposals are fair in general, it it right to bear in mind that as part and parcel of my right hon. Friend's proposals this year there are these very appreciable and valuable concessions to football in general; and the word "football" is the expression used in the Amendment which is now before the Committee.
I suggest that we look at this question against that background and consider whether it is also necessary to take a very substantial further step and exempt professional football altogether from Entertainments Duty. We should consider also whether, in all the circumstances of today, it is wholly unreasonable to provide, as it is provided at the moment, that in respect of a 1s. 9d. seat the person who buys the ticket pays, in the 1s. 9d., 3½d. by way of tax.
There are one or two material points which I hope hon. Members will consider in coming to a decision. As my hon. Friend the Member for Woodside (Mr. W. G. Bennett) very fairly pointed out, there is the fact that there is here an appreciable revenue consideration. As far as we can estimate it, the yield of the tax on football as a whole is about £1,500,000, of which £1,400,000 comes from Association football and about £100,000 from the Rugby League football, to which I will direct a few words at a later stage.
That is an appreciable element of revenue, and I do not honestly think that we shall advance clarity of thought by going into questions of alternative methods of raising revenue. Those are the figures.
The hon. Gentleman says that a loss of £1,500,000 is involved. Obviously that amount must include what was obtained in the past from amateur clubs when they paid tax. If the hon. Gentleman says that the Revenue cannot afford to lose £1.500,000 in taxation, I suggest that he is not losing that amount because he is not giving that amount away.
I find that I am right when I thought that the hon. Member had not a very helpful point to make. The figure which I have given to the Committee is the estimate of the revenue on the basis proposed in the Bill, that is, without any element in respect of tax on amateurs at all. This is the estimate of what will be yielded by the duty in the form in which it is present in the Bill. Therefore, I think that the hon. Member will allow me to say that my initial reaction in not giving way was right.
I do not want to over-estimate it, but there is here an element of some substance to the Revenue and I think that hon. Members will agree that we are entitled to attach some weight to it. Then there is the consideration that although football is a most admirable activity which gives great pleasure to a great many of our fellow-countrymen, it is a form of entertainment for which people pay for admission and which is provided in general by paid performers. It is also an activity in which substantial sums of money are invested, and, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) said, a return of 1½ per cent. is sometimes permitted.
It is accepted in the general field of taxation that professionally provided entertainment is in general an appropriate subject for taxation. Certainly that is the view which every modern Government has taken. I have not heard any argument today to suggest that, in general, professionally provided entertainment is not a perfectly proper subject for taxation in view of the need for raising revenue.
On that basis, I suggest that the only argument that could be of great validity would be to say, as has not been shown this afternoon, that the operation of this tax had a catastrophic effect on the activity on which it fell. No one has attempted to advance that proposition. It is a fact that, particularly in the case of the big professional clubs which are the main collectors of this tax, there are very large attendances. That was notably the case at the recent Cup Final where I understand the attendance was raised by a number of right hon. Gentlemen from both sides of the Committee, and a great number of their fellow-countrymen.
I want to deal with the suggestion which was made, particularly by the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), that the rate of tax was necessarily connected with the fall in attendances which particular clubs had suffered. The hon. Lady very fairly admitted that there were, even on her own argument, a number of other factors. In particular, one of the factors in the case of the club to which she referred was that club's lack of athletic success. It is quite fallacious reasoning to say that if attendances have gone down the tax must be to blame.
In the case of three sports on which, as the result of the reconstruction of the duty affected in my right hon. Friend's Finance Bill last year, the rate of tax fell —horse racing, speedway racing and dog racing—the attendances have since fallen. Therefore, that is a fair demonstration of the over-simplification that results from suggesting that where attendances have dropped it is necessarily attributable to the tax. There are cases where other factors have operated even though there was a reduction in tax.
May I, as I promised, say a few words specifically on the subject of Rugby League football, to which the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) relates and which was referred to in the course of this debate by the hon. Member for Workington. I think it is perhaps convenient that we are discussing the position of Rugby League football in the course of the debate on the main football Amendment because, as will be appreciated, Rugby League football is played at the same time and to the same extent, and sometimes in competition with, Association football, particularly in the North of England. Therefore, it is perhaps convenient that we should deal with the two at the same time.
As the hon. Gentleman said, I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation from the controlling body of this sport, and it is the case that, for whatever reason it may be, some of the professional clubs concerned are encountering financial difficulties. It is equally the case that there are others whose position is far from unsatisfactory, and I do not think there is any general deduction as to the effect of the tax to be drawn from the very close study which I have given to the accounts with which they were so courteous to supply me. It is, of course, a fact, as the deputation made clear, that there is a very substantial amateur element in this sport and that amateur element gets the benefit of the amateur concession to which the Committee agreed on the previous Clause.
I do not want to detain the Committee unduly, but on the general issue I should like to say that I fully appreciate, as does my right hon. Friend, the proper concern which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have shown for the well-being of activities in respect of which many millions of people pay substantial sums of money for wholesome and refreshing entertainment. At the same time, I am sure the Committee will recall the general propositions in connection with entertain- ment as being a proper vehicle for taxation, on which I addressed the Committee a few moments ago.
My right hon. Friend has made it clear from the action which he is taking in the proposals in this Bill that he keeps the position of this and other sports under review, and I can say on his behalf that he will carefully watch the position of the football clubs, and perhaps in particular the smaller or third division clubs to which particular reference has been made.
Having said that, having given the assurance which my right hon. Friend can easily give because he keeps all these activities under close and constant review throughout the year, and having made it clear that he does not propose to ignore any developments that may or may not take place, I should like to say that, so far as this Amendment is concerned, I do not feel that a case has been made for giving to Association football the treatment which this Amendment would give to it. I do not want to weary the Committee by repeating the reasoning that brings me to that conclusion, but so far we have had a most agreeable debate, and I hope that the undue apprehensions which I am sure some hon. Members may have felt have been in some degree diminished.
I do not know whether a further plea will be of value on this matter, but I should like to tell the Financial Secretary, with respect to his assumption that he is the only person who can decide what is a good point, that his points appear to be based upon estimates while the points which we are making in support of this Amendment are based on positive facts.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, a short while ago, expressed his pleasure at having attended a dinner as the president of a supporters' club, when he was complimented on the wonderful thing he had done on their behalf. I happen to be the president of a supporters* club, and I should like to be in the same position and to receive the same compliments at the annual meeting of my organisation.
It has been suggested that Association and Rugby football are financially in a different category from the category of cricket. The only difference, so far as I can see, is that in reviewing the situation the Chancellor has preferred to base his reaction on cricket teams who are in a bad financial situation, but in the case of Association and Rugby football the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary base their decisions on clubs that are in a reasonably good financial position.
I am interested in particular in two clubs, although I am interested in the Rugby game in general. Both of these clubs have raised with me the question of their financial position. Hunslet, in Leeds, have drawn my attention to the fact that in the 1951–52 sports year their receipts were £9,995, of which £801 was paid out in tax. The following sports year their income increased to £10,198 and their Entertainments Duty was £1,521, or practically twice the amount of tax, although the increase in their income was so small.
Those figures would entitle them, standing on their own, to serious consideration. But the other club in my home town in which I am interested— Liverpool City—is in a worse position because it is not only trying to establish itself as a Rugby club in that town but it is fighting against adverse circumstances, such as poor gates and a poor income. Last year, their income was only £1,065. The expenses of running the team were £2,064 and at the same time the tax paid by the club was £153. Therefore, the point that has to be answered is not whether some Association and Rugby football teams are in a fairly good financial position but why there is this differentiation between the two games.
Exactly the same arguments as those put forward by myself and other hon. Members who are making this plea were advanced by the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to cricket. We were told that cricket has received special consideration because of the financial position of cricket teams generally, but some of us know of county cricket clubs who have £50,000, £60,000 or £70,000 invested in real assets, so that they have money at their disposal to use whenever they like. They were not taken into consideration when this plea was made on behalf of cricket clubs generally. I suggest that the same consideration which was given to cricket should be given to Rugby football, because the smaller clubs suffer the same disability.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer emphasised the relationship between cricket in this country and cricket played in the Commonwealth. If this question is to be determined on the respect shown to cricketers when they go to the Commonwealth, it must be remembered that when Rugby football players go to Australia and play matches over there they are held in greater respect than are the cricketers because up to now the Rugby players have never failed to bring the Ashes back from Australia, and that cannot be said about the cricketers.
I was merely endeavouring to point out that the considerations which determined the concession for county cricket also apply to Rugby football. If I am out of order in developing that point I am sorry, because it is the whole purpose of the Amendment and it was the basis upon which all the speeches have been made this afternoon.
Friends and colleagues of mine who happen to have been to Australia, and who are interested in both Rugby football and cricket, tell me that the main ground upon which cricket Test matches are played—Sydney cricket ground— would not be able to maintain itself, and probably would not be at the disposal of the cricketers, if it were not for the financial assistance received through the Rugby matches which are played there and which draw bigger crowds. All we ask is that in determining the relationship of Association and Rugby football to this type of taxation consideration should be given to those clubs which are least able to bear the tax, as was done in the case of cricket.
The very agreeable and well-intentioned speech of the Financial Secretary made two points quite clear. First, whatever his leisure-time occupations may be, he certainly never puts a rosette in his buttonhole and arms himself with a rattle to support a football club. Secondly, he has completely failed to meet at least two-thirds of the arguments advanced from these benches.
As the Secretary of the Football Association has said, the overwhelming concern of those interested in Soccer must be the smaller clubs. The Financial Secretary told us that the Chancellor certainly has in mind the weak and often precarious position of many of the third division football clubs, but that surely is only the fringe of the story. I want to refer to the position of two clubs in my constituency—Stourbridge and Dudley. Next year they will play in the Birmingham League. They are clubs which have to compete for support with the great clubs in the Football League—West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Birmingham. It seemed to me that the Financial Secretary lumped all the smaller clubs with the great teams in the Football League and drew the dividing line between amateurs and professionals.
The Dudley and Stourbridge Football Clubs, technically, are professional clubs. The majority of their players are part-time professionals. But to say that such football clubs are professional clubs in the sense that first, second, or third division League clubs are professional marks a complete failure to understand the arguments which have been advanced from these benches. The secretaries of the Dudley and Stourbridge Football Clubs work for their living. The treasurers work for their livelihood, and all the members of the committees and the officials are chaps who earn their daily bread in jobs outside football. It is their leisure-time occupation to keep their football clubs in being.
The Financial Secretary had the great advantage of sitting at the feet of the late Lord Lindsay, who was my friend. It was always one of Lord Lindsay's arguments that the working of democracy depended not upon academic or intellectual definition but upon the functioning and flourishing of voluntary organisations, of which there is no better example than the football or cricket club which is run by a handful of enthusiasts who, in the first instance, put their hands into their own pockets and who subsequently appeal and obtain public support. The experience gained by these gentlemen in organising these activities are subsequently put at the public service.
If a survey were taken, not only of the Dudley and Stourbridge Football Clubs but of clubs throughout Great Britain, the Financial Secretary would find that those who serve these sporting organisations as members of committees and the like are the same people who place their services at the disposal of the community as air raid wardens and in similar organisations. We should not lose sight of the fact that voluntary organisations are the foundation of our democratic way of life.
It is all very well for hon. Members opposite, whose leisure-time pursuits fall into the class which is known as gentlemen's games, to sneer at people who go to watch football matches. I well remember, as will my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), an occasion before the war in Stoke-on-Trent—where I live and for which my hon. Friend has the honour to be a Member—when there were rumours that Stanley Matthews would be transferred. Those rumours coincided with the resignation of the present Foreign Secretary from his position in the Chamberlain Government, and two protest meetings were called in the same week.
There was a protest meeting against the possible transfer of Stanley Matthews. The promoters of this meeting hired a hall, but there were more citizens outside than inside. On the following Sunday, at a meeting organised by the League of Nations Union and supported by all parties, there may have been 50 members present, including my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South and myself, and the same snooty remarks were made about soccer fans as were made by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. R. Bell).
I will not associate the hon. Member with the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) or the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South, but I do not care very much about his protest unless he makes it by going with us into the Division Lobby.
I did not intend to dwell much on the point, except in so far as it was necessary to reply to the Financial Secretary. In the Birmingham League, in which both Dudley and Stourbridge will play next season, there is one exclusively amateur team Boldmere St. Michaels. All its players are amateurs. As I understand it, they will receive no benefit at all under the proposals because they will never play against another amateur team, for theirs is the only amateur team in the league.
My last words are these. If the Financial Secretary will not go as far as we want, will he plead with his right hon. Friend to make this concession this year: let him keep the tax on the first, second and third divisions, but let him consider taking it off, or restoring the tax to last year's level, for teams like Dudley and Stourbridge, which are not professional teams in the true sense of the word.
I appreciate that it is fallacious to argue that because teams like Dudley and Stourbridge are in financial difficulties it naturally follows that that is due to the increase in duty. I do not believe that, but it is due, of course, to Government policy. Overtime in the Midlands has gone and short-time is on the horizon. There is not so much money in people's pockets as there was last year. In the 1952–53 season the takings of a small club like Stourbridge were down by £1,000 and they made a loss on the year of £550. In Dudley, where they carry on only by a very narrow margin, the takings were also down by £1,000. Quite clearly there is a limit to the length of time these clubs can continue.
I think the Financial Secretary did less than justice to the arguments advanced from this side of the Committee when he said his right hon. Friend would watch the position of the third division clubs. It is true that some third division clubs are in a bad way, but their resources, and the public support, are much greater than in the case of clubs like Dudley and Stourbridge. I plead with the Financial Secretary to ask the Chancellor to say that not only will he watch the situation for third division clubs, but that he will watch it for clubs like those in the constituency which I have the honour to represent.
It has been interesting and, at times, entertaining this afternoon to listen to hon. Members pleading for their own local clubs, but I feel that the issue involved in the Amendment far transcends our local prides and prejudices. I agree with the Financial Secretary when he suggests that we should try to look at the Amendment objectively and to give some practical reasons why football should be treated on a par with cricket. I noted one rather alarming and significant observation by the Financial Secretary which seemed to suggest that our sporting organisations must now reach the point of catastrophe before they can hope for any relief from the Treasury.
I am sure my right hon. and hon. Friends were bitterly disappointed with the Chancellor's reply to the general debate on sport which was initiated last night by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). It is true to say that not one crumb of comfort was offered by the Chancellor, although I am sure he realised how deeply and how sincerely we on this side of the Committee feel about this question. Indeed, I think we were most deeply shocked by the reason which the Chancellor advanced for refusing any concessions to Association football. I should be the last to want to do the Chancellor an injustice, but as I listened to him winding up the debate I felt that he had shifted his ground from where he stood on Second Reading. It seemed to me that his refusal was based on expediency rather than on principles, as I shall seek to show.
The Chancellor said that his decision to exempt county cricket from Entertainments Duty altogether would cost him only £80,000, whereas if he exempted Association football it would cost him between £1,500,000 and £2 million. It therefore appears that justice between one sport and another is conditioned by the amount of loss of revenue to the Exchequer. That is why I join with my right hon. and hon. Friends in their protests against what has been widely condemned—and I hope that the Chancellor has noted that it has been widely condemned throughout the country—as a discriminating tax on sport.
There is a saying that we should not look a gift horse in the mouth, and I say at once, as one who took a fairly active part in pleading with the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the last Budget for some remission of Entertainments Duty for our county cricket clubs, that I appreciate the recognition of the need of the county cricket clubs in the relief which he has given, but I suggest to him that we and the county cricket clubs did not expect to be given the full remission which he has offered on this occasion and most certainly not for the intriguing reasons which the Chancellor gave in his Budget speech.
I wonder whether the Chancellor read the observations of Mr. Bennett Manson, the chairman of the Rugby League, who said:
We are really shocked at the Chancellor's differentiation and inconsistency.
During his speech the Parliamentary Secretary quoted the Secretary of the Football Association, Sir Stanley Rous, but he quoted what Sir Stanley said last year and not what he said this year. Sir Stanley Rous said this year:
I can see no satisfactory distinction that can be made between amateur and professional sport for the purpose of duty. To single out any sport for preferential treatment is bound to cause anomalies.
The secretary of the Football League, Mr. Fred Howarth, said:
I doubt whether professional football will be able to carry on as it is at the moment and it may mean putting an extra burden on the public.
I am not going to quote my own local authorities, but the people in my city, particularly the officials of the clubs, regard this duty as being extremely discriminatory, and it is the discriminatory nature of the duty as now proposed I want to examine. I start by quoting what the Chancellor said in his Budget statement. He said:
I am satisfied that last year's new arrangements are on the right lines and should be continued, but I have some proposals in fulfilment of the undertakings I then gave. I have now found a way of helping amateur sport in general.
Then comes a very important passage:
I shall proceed by reference, not to the status of individuals, but to the purposes of the clubs or other organisations for which they play. On this basis I propose to exempt amateur sport from Entertainments Duty. The exemption will apply to games, races and other sports provided by a club or similar organisation established and conducted for the promotion and furtherance of amateur sport and not conducted or established for profit. It will, of course, be a condition that no remuneration should be paid to anyone actually taking part. In most sports the amateur definition which I have devised will, I think, work reasonably well, but it will not do for cricket."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 55.]
That seems to infer that the Chancellor was searching around for a definition which would not only cover amateur sports but amateur or professional cricket. He said so last night. I ask him how he can sustain his discrimination between professional soccer and professional county cricket. Who has been advising the Chancellor? Is it the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations? The Chancellor's contention that the reason he proposed to exempt county cricket—which, I say, is as much a professional sport as Association football—was the difficulty of definition, will not bear even superficial, let alone detailed, examination.
A number of county cricket clubs, because of their all-professional character and their inability to find even one amateur to act as captain, have had to appoint professionals to lead their sides. I took the trouble last night to examine the make-up of the county cricket teams playing in yesterday's matches. I do not claim that I am completely accurate, but I believe that I am as accurate as is necessary for my argument. I am talking of the first elevens, the people playing in the first-class county matches. My own county, Gloucestershire, are an all-professional side; Northamptonshire have all professionals; Lancashire have one amateur; Yorkshire, two amateurs; Nottinghamshire are all professional; Sussex, all professional, although I am a little doubtful about that county; Kent, one amateur; Derbyshire, two amateurs; Hampshire, one amateur; Middlesex, two amateurs; Worcestershire, all professional; Leicestershire, one amateur; Warwickshire, all professional.
There were 15 matches played yesterday including the M.C.C. match at Lords, and there were 16 amateurs playing in those 15 matches. All the rest were professional cricketers. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Essex?"] I did not include Essex, because I am not sure that Essex were playing yesterday. If it is the case that the Chancellor was unable to find a definition of amateur status which would fit into county cricket, I ask him why he is trying to sustain his defence of this discriminatory action as between the one sport and the other.
Let me examine the effect of the changes in the Entertainments Duty that the Chancellor made in last year's Budget. It has been said already in the previous debate, by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) and by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) and one or two others, that if we are asking for remission of tax on Association football we should try to show some way of raising revenue in another direction. I am not necessarily asking the Chancellor completely to remit the Entertainments Duty on Association football. If the Chancellor would only restore the position as it was before last year's Budget—
I do not think that if the Amendment were passed it would remove all sport from Entertainments Duty or restore the position as it was before last year's Budget. The difficulty arose last year about speedway racing. It was due to the speedway racing revolution that the Entertainments Duty was altered in last year's Budget and this Amendment does not have the effect that has been suggested.
I am much obliged to the Chancellor. He said at that time that he would watch the incidence of the duty to see just how it worked. He is in a position now to know how it has worked and to know the effect it has had upon the various sporting organisations. If we want to discover the effect of the duty we have to double the rate of Entertainments Duty as it applied in 1951 to 1952 and add a halfpenny; and we have the exact amount of duty clubs are paying at the present time. Examination of the balance sheets of the clubs shows, however, that the increase of Entertainments Duty is trebled in some cases, and, in some cases, it is even more. I suppose it depends upon the charge for stand seats. The principal complaint of the Association football clubs is that the main burden of this duty falls at ground entrance level. It falls upon the man who pays the lowest entrance fee to the ground. Where he was paying 1s. 6d. and there was 1d. tax he now pays 1s. 9d. and there is 3½d. tax. So one can go on multiplying the various instances that there are.
We have been invited to make some suggestions and I want to make some. The Chancellor should look at the possibility of restoring the duty to the level of last year. I rather favour—and I am not afraid to say so here or on a public platform—the suggestion of the hon. Member for Kidderminster, that we should look at the question of taxation of football pools. There may be a little revenue to be obtained from that source.
However, I am more concerned with the suggestion I made to the Chancellor last year and which has been repeated today. It is high time that the Treasury examined the possibility of obtaining revenue from those clubs which are able to pay fantastic transfer fees for players. If clubs are wealthy enough to pay £25,000 and £30,000 a time for the transfer of a player, they might reasonably be expected to make a contribution towards the Exchequer. It would be far better for the Arsenals and the Tottenham Hotspurs to make a contribution in this way, instead of some of the professional clubs, particularly in the third division, having a terrific struggle to exist.
I hope that the Chancellor will look at these possibilities, and that he will pay some attention to our plea to him tonight. We are in deadly earnest about this. We think it is something that ought to be very carefully examined, so that there should be a semblance of equity in the duty on sports, whether amateur or professional.
Realising that there are still many hon. Members who wish to speak in this debate, I shall be as brief as I possibly can. In order to do so, I shall be rather specific and deal particularly with the plight of my own constituency's football team. No doubt many hon. Members, particularly football enthusiasts, will have noticed that the Barnsley Football Club was relegated to the Third Division at the end of last season. The case of the Barnsley club is an interesting one, well worthy of the Chancellor's attention.
There have been various increases of expenditure falling on football clubs, in wages, equipment, ground maintenance, rates and so on. In addition to that, there has been an increase in the heavy rate of Entertainments Duty, which is reflected in higher charges for admission, which are direct and are felt more by the spectator than the other increases, and are thus followed by lower attendances. In view of this, Barnsley have had to sell many of their star players. The cream of their team has been sold during the past season because the high admission charges make for lower attendance, and financial difficulties have consequently fallen upon the club.
I should like to quote from a letter I have received from the Barnsley Football Club:
As you are doubtless aware, the cost involved in connection with professional football clubs is very heavy, and quite a number of the lesser known are having great difficulty in meeting their commitments. One example which comes readily to mind is the position of Mansfield Town Football Club, which has been compelled to make an appeal to the public for funds to avoid liquidation. The lesser clubs are only able to survive by transferring their best players. But even this course of action is limited"—
The quotation I was reading continues:
The lesser clubs are only able to survive by transferring their best players. But even this course of action is limited owing to the clubs who are fortunate enough to have good gates now feeling the strain of heavy taxation, both direct and indirect.
I was very pleased to note that yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Hudders-field, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) mentioned that encouragement would be given to clubs to sell their best players. Last season Barnsley had to sell their star players, some of whom I will mention. Blanchflower, who came from Ireland to Barnsley, his first English club, gained international status, but was sold to Aston Villa. Baxter, a forward of outstanding ability, was last season transferred to Preston North End and assisted them in their rise to second place in the first division. McMoran, who has gained Irish international caps, was last season transferred to Doncaster.
Last of all, and most regrettable, is Taylor, a native of Barnsley, who had been brought up through the team's system—the 18-year-old team, the reserve team, and so on—a young lad of outstanding ability, who, much against his will I understand, had to be transferred towards the latter part of the season because the club were in financial difficulties. We sold that player to Manchester United for approximately £30,000. Taylor would have preferred to stay in his home town; his family were there, his girl friend was there, and he was much devoted to his club, but simply because of the club's financial embarrasment Taylor had to go.
It is noteworthy that last week, after being transferred from Barnsley only a short time, Taylor gained an international cap abroad on the South American tour. Might I say in passing that the hearts of all Barnsley people go with him in hoping that he will get many more. Would it not have been better if his own home town could have had the honour of producing an English international? With lower admission charges, particularly in this industrial area of Barnsley, we should get more spectators, and if we were able to keep our star players and had the honour of producing an English international we would attract even larger gates.
Last season there were gates of only 7,000 on some Saturdays, yet we were expected to keep a second division club going in a large industrial centre such as Barnsley. We were producing future internationals, yet this year the club is going down into the third division. Clubs like this could be helped by tax reliefs. The Chancellor is now able to give help to some sports, and in view of some of the examples I have outlined I hope he will be able to give similar recognition to football.
We have been asked where the Revenue should come from to make up the deficit if Entertainments Duty were removed from football. I would point out that Barnsley is the centre of a great mining area, as is shown by the fact that the Yorkshire mining headquarters are in Barnsley. Recently Mr. W. E. Jones, the General Secretary of the Yorkshire miners, made an important speech in which he asked for more production, at the same time praising Yorkshire miners for their efforts, pointing out that in recent weeks they had produced more than in the corresponding weeks last year.
These miners ought to have the opportunity of seeing first-rate sport at the weekends during their leisure hours, which would no doubt be reflected in higher production. If the Chancellor grants this tax relief to football he will receive his reward in higher production. If this relief could be given, attendances would be higher, clubs would be able to keep their star players, and competition would be keener for promotion rather than, as at present, to avoid relegation.
I am naturally anxious to follow the advice given by your predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Thomas, that we should be as brief as possible, but I must begin by pointing out two factors in this debate for which we on this side cannot be held responsible.
First, there is one man who could put an end to this debate right now, and that is the Chancellor himself. If the Chancellor were willing to accept this Amendment, we could proceed to other Amendments without further ado. The second thing militating against shortening this debate is the very unsatisfactory reply of the Financial Secretary. I do not want to dwell too long upon his speech, but it did contain two complete economic fallacies which showed him to be quite unfitted to hold the financial office he holds. I am sure the Chancellor will agree in his absence when I explain it to him.
The first fallacious statement the Financial Secretary made was in saying it was quite wrong for hon. Members on this side of the Committee to argue about a duty on football which had been in existence for the past 37 years. That argument quite overlooks the fact that there have been tax changes in regard to cricket and other sports which make it necessary to review the tax position with regard to football. I am sure the Financial Secretary will agree when he looks at his own remarks.
The other fallacious statement he made was towards the end of his speech when he said that the remission or imposition of taxation had nothing to do with the sale of goods. I ask him to talk over that point with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask the Chancellor why he took the tax off pianos and umbrellas if he thought that taxes were going to have no effect upon their sale.
Passing from the very unsatisfactory speech of the Financial Secretary, I want to say that the whole course of our discussion on this Amendment, on this Clause, and on the Clause yesterday shows the evil results that occur when the Chancellor departs from the simple application of a simple tax. All the speeches that have been made during the past two days have been special pleadings for special sports and for special considerations. We have had the plea that tennis should be treated like cricket, the plea that professionals should be treated like amateurs and so on. In other words, the Chancellor by his changes— and other Chancellors must accept their responsibility—has worked himself into a complex and impossible situation.
I make the suggestion that we should go back to fundamentals and consider what is the purpose of this Entertainments Duty not only on football but on all indoor activities and all outdoor sports. Surely it is this. The Chancellor, having imposed a heavy slice of Income Tax, then goes on to say to the taxpayer, "Although I have taxed you pretty heavily by Income Tax, I still need some money from you and, therefore, I propose to tax you whenever you indulge in any entertainment."
I break off here to remind the committee that I listened to all the speeches yesterday and most of them today and that, with the exception of a passing reference by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), no one has approached this problem from the point of view of the taxpayer—the ordinary man in the street. Nearly every speech made in the Committee has been from the point of view of the game of tennis, the art of football, or the practice of some other sport. I want to bring the Committee back to fundamentals.
Why should the Chancellor be in the position of saying to the ordinary man in the street, "If you want to watch a cricket match you can do so and I will not tax you; but if you want to watch a game of football I propose to tax you."? Why should the Chancellor be in the position of saying, "If you go to a certain stadium and watch the speedway racing there one evening I will put a heavy slice of tax on you; but if you go to the same stadium the following afternoon to see amateur athletics, I will not charge you anything, but if you watch a professional taking part in athletics I am going to subject you to tax."? Why should the Chancellor be in a position of bringing his own subjective views to bear on what tax should be paid by the individual taxpayer? The Chancellor himself has expressed a preference for cricket.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the value of cricket in cementing together Commonwealth relations. May I remind him that cricket was the occasion a few years ago of almost a rift within the Commonwealth. One might argue from that unfortunate incident that one ought to abolish cricket in this country altogether in order to avoid the possibility of further ill feeling in the Commonwealth. That shows how fallacious is his argument that because he thought cricket could benefit our Commonwealth relations he ought to remit the tax on cricket.
To come back to fundamentals, I submit that any person who goes to any form of entertainment should have a free choice and the Chancellor should not step in and say, "If you like the living stage, as I do, you need not pay so much tax as if you like the cinema, which I abhor." That is the position into which the Chancellor has worked himself. If a man goes to see "A Streetcar Named Desire" on the living stage, he will not pay as much tax as if he goes to a cinema to see a film like "Kon Tiki" or the "Mount Everest Expedition."
I have every intention of devoting my time to football, but I was using these other points as an illustration of the absurd situation into which the Chancellor has worked himself by trying to discriminate and make differentiations between different forms of entertainment and different forms of sport.
It is true, as an hon. Member opposite said, that if we are going to suggest that football should receive the same discrimination as cricket then we should suggest an alternative for revenue. I think that an overwhelming case has been made for saying that football is a far more popular sport than cricket and, therefore, ought to be treated at least equally well. I go further and say that in the choice which the Chancellor has made there is an element of class distinction because there is no doubt that professional football, played on a Saturday afternoon, is the sport of the ordinary man in the street whereas the sports of county cricket, tennis and golf tend to be those of people in the middle classes. To that extent there is an element of class consciousness in what the Chancellor has done.
Let us take, for instance, the difference between the professional football played in winter on a Saturday afternoon on which a heavy rate of tax is imposed by the Chancellor and the amateur game of tennis as played in the Wimbledon championships which is completely free of tax. Is there any difference between the commercial application of those people who are running the Wimbledon championships and those bodies of people who run the football clubs during the winter? There is not the slightest distinction between them, yet the Chancellor now proposes that tennis should be tax-free because it is played by amateurs, so-called, at Wimbledon whereas the professional players of football for the entertainment of people on Saturday afternoons have their clubs subject to tax.
If we are going to accept the Chancellor's discrimination, I think that my hon. Friends have made an overwhelming case for putting professional football in the same class as cricket. I go further and say that the whole of the Entertainments Duty, owing to the complex situation into which it has got today, should be removed entirely, and I include the cinemas as well. If I may revert to the question of the cinemas for a moment, we have reached the position where this duty which started as an Entertainments Duty can now be divided into two. It can be divided into the cinema tax, which produces £38 million a year, and a sports tax, including football and other professional sports, the duty on which provides a mere £4 million or so.
My proposal today is that all the duty paid by the man in the street when he goes to the cinema or goes to the football ground should be removed and in its place an entertainments tax proper should be imposed on every company and organisation in the country, whether professional or amateur, which organises any shows of entertainment or sport whether indoors or outdoors. Let us see what the effect of such a tax would be.
I accept that, Mr. Thomas, and, therefore, I will content myself with suggesting that the tax should be imposed as an alternative to the present duty and I think it may be in order if I develop that point when we come to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Then I may be able to instruct the Chancellor a little more in what I think would be a fair way of dealing with the matter.
Judging by the number of hon. Members present in the Chamber, probably rather more has been said about football than many hon. Members can stand, but there are one or two points which I wish to put to the Chancellor.
I should like to know the cost to the Revenue of the exemption of amateur football clubs from taxation. The Chancellor ought to have a look at some of the amateur football clubs. There is one in my area which has always paid, so far as I know, reasonable allowances, and it is still an amateur club and competes in the English Amateur Cup. Not all clubs are as amateur as that one is.
We have heard a good deal today about the value of the provision of relaxation at the weekends to stimulate production. What stimulation of production do we get by people watching county cricket every day of the week? County cricket has never merited any preference over football or any other sport.
There is really no need to take the case for football further because it has already been so well put. I am concerned with two football clubs. The Liverpool club is in my constituency and Everton is on the border. While I know that they resent the fact that football is taxed and that other games are not and that the taxation has been more than it ought to have been—it ought never to have been doubled—and it has increased their difficulties, it has not had the effect of their attendances being reduced to the extent to which some of my hon. Friends have suggested. The quality of the play is very often responsible for reduction in attendances. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) should tell the Barnsley club to spend some of its money to overcome the difficulty that taxation has caused it by getting some new players. Judging by the number of players which the club transferred during the past couple of seasons, and knowing the amount that it received for them, I feel that the club is doing reasonably well, and certainly much better than clubs which have not had such players to transfer.
Suggestions have been made on both sides of Committee for alternative sources of revenue. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who probably expressed it in stronger terms than anybody else, said that we should tax the football pools to make up the difference, suggesting 7½ per cent.
I thought somebody suggested 7½ per cent.; but perhaps it was 2½ per cent.
In any case, the football pools are as good a game as anything else for half our adult population. Many hon. Members have expressed moral indignation about betting, but I will bet that a very large percentage of hon. Members fill in football coupons, like I do. I am not trying to justify football pools on any moral grounds, but the fact is that the people want them. I am not saying that they are desirable, but neither is any other form of gambling desirable.
For an alternative source of revenue, the Chancellor might look to the horse racing pools, which collect about £25 million a year and pay nothing at all to the Treasury in taxation. There is also the Stock Exchange, which does a certain amount of gambling, and yet, like the horse racing pools, pays nothing.
The hon. Member is mistaken in suggesting that horse racing does not provide revenue for the Treasury. Bookmakers pay a considerable amount in taxation, and horse racing pools are taxed in the same way as are football pools, being promoted by the same people.
If the hon. Gentleman is drawn to pursue this subject, he may be a very long time before he deals with the subject of the exemption of football. I should be glad if he would confine himself to that.
I am simply referring to suggestions of alternative sources of revenue which have been made to the Chancellor in the event of his exempting football. If the hon. Member for Black-ley (Mr. E. Johnson) had been listening carefully, he would not have made such an intervention. I am well aware of what goes on in the alleged sport of horse racing. The horse racing pool is not taxed.
I want football to be relieved of this taxation, but the Chancellor ought not to impose more taxation on the pools, for they are already taxed enough. The pools provide £250,000 revenue weekly in stamps and poundage on postal orders. The Treasury are doing very well out of the pools, and I am sure that the Chancellor does not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
There is a lot of opposition to professional foothball and it manifests itself as much as anywhere else on the Government Front Bench where the occupants do not like the sport of the workers. Much can be said about amateur cricket in the past. I could tell a good story about one amateur I know who played one game for Lancashire many years ago and got £5 for doing so and is still an amateur. However, we give preference to amateurs as against professionals.
Tennis has been mentioned. What is done with the revenue from the Wimbledon tournament? It must be the greatest income of any sporting organisation in the country. Some tennis players tour the world and are still amateurs. I do not know who pays their expenses.
I hope the Chancellor will look at the matter as it affects football not from the point of view of those whom he consults but from the point of view of the justification for the taxation.
As I read the Amendment its purpose is to grant the same exemption to football as the Chancellor proposes to grant to cricket. That being so, I could not quite understand the relevance of the remarks of the Financial Secretary, who seemed to think that we should not discuss this at all because the tax had existed for quite a long time. If that is the only kind of defence that the Government can offer, the sooner they call this game off the better. On my reckoning, they are at the moment about 10 goals down, and they have absolutely no defence. The only two hon. Members who have tried to make a defence have succeeded only in putting the ball through their own goal.
The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. R. Bell), in a sneering kind of speech that was not, I am sure, approved of by his own side, seemed to think that there was something unhealthy about people going to football matches. He said that he watched them with disdain as they passed along. I wonder what he was doing watching them? Probably he was on his way to the nearest billiard saloon. Then we had the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who seemed to think that people who watch football matches have a special responsibility for the upkeep of the Welfare State. I presume that people who watch cricket have no such responsibility. At any rate, that is what the hon. Member said.
In discussing this tax, we must take into consideration what was done by the Chancellor last year. It is not good enough to say that other Governments had this tax, and so on. The Labour Government reduced this tax, and last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer increased it. He increased it, and then he delayed its inception to cover the cricket season. So the cricket clubs, who were getting the full benefit of tax exemption, have never borne the increased tax that the right hon. Gentleman imposed last year, whereas we have had one year's experience of the increased tax on football.
It was said by the Chancellor last night, and has been repeated by the Financial Secretary, that if football clubs are in difficulties, it is not because of the tax. That may be true. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking last night about cricket, said that if cricket clubs were in difficulties, it was not because of the tax. What is the justification for using this argument to refuse our Amendment while admitting, when trying to justify the extension of the exemption to cricket, that the tax is not the cause of the difficulties of the cricket clubs? If that is the only kind of defence we are to get, it is not good enough.
If cricket is in difficulties and if it is necessary to give exemption to clubs in what tax they have been paying, it is all the more necessary, since football has borne the increased tax, to recognise that there are football clubs who have had considerable difficulties. We have had figures quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) which showed quite clearly the difficulties that clubs are experiencing. Judging by the state of most of the professional clubs, there is no question whatever as to whether any profit comes out of football today. The only man who is getting any profit out of football is the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and he must admit that.
We had a speech from the hon. Member for Woodside (Mr. W. G. Bennett), a Scottish Member, who was for a long time a director of one of the premier football clubs in Scotland—Glasgow Rangers. I am perfectly sure that in all that time he did not make any money out of it. Let us leave aside for a moment the one or two main football clubs and come down to the ordinary first division team, and even the second division team. In Ayrshire, we do not have a first division team; we have two second division teams, or "B" division teams, as they are called in Scotland. I guarantee that in the past five or six years the directors of those clubs have had to put their hands in their pockets. It was only a year ago that the local football team—Kilmarnock—was inviting the public to subscribe for some shares, and there was no guarantee or promise that any profit would ever come out from those shares.
We have had the Revenue considerations dragged in, and I wish that the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary would be consistent. One minute they talk about principles; when dealing with one Amendment they say that the revenue considerations do not really matter. That is what we got when discussing the small amount of money that it would have taken to accept an Amendment which we had down on the question of amateur theatricals and operatic societies. Then we had the high-sounding phrases, "It is not the money that matters, it is the principle." But evidently the principle does not matter now; we can discriminate as much as we like, and we get the argument of revenue considerations and of the £1,500,000. Really, in a Budget of this size, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been able to give away so much money, will surely not try to convince us that the revenue consideration is really an important one.
The Financial Secretary said that he would not deal with the question of discrimination. I do not see how he can avoid it. We are trying to put football in the same place as cricket, and the hon. Gentleman should justify cricket remaining there as much as we are trying to justify the inclusion of football. What it comes down to is that there is no justification in reason for this discrimination.
On the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, when the Chancellor was speaking, my first impression was that all he was doing in this direction was indulging a personal preference for a particular sport.
I can only tell the right hon. Gentleman what my feeling was. His proposal certainly has not been justified by any real reason, and there has been no justification as to why the exemption should not be extended to football.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of cricket having a special place, and talked about English tradition. If the right hon. Gentleman would remember that he is Chancellor of the Exchequer for the whole of the United Kingdom, he might do fairly well, because as far as Scotsmen are concerned cricket has no traditional place in our life. We consider it a very nice way of wasting a day, and when we do play cricket on a Saturday afternoon the two teams have to be in and our between the hours of half-past two and half-past seven. Had the right hon. Gentleman said that the reason why he was wiping out Entertainments Duty from cricket was because in England the game had ceased to be entertaining, there might have been a certain amount of justification.
As for the questions of cost, tradition, and all the rest, if there is any tradition at all in Scotland it is for football. The position in football is precarious, not just for small teams, but for many teams that are well known. There is one team which is among the finest exponents of football in the whole of Britain, a team called Motherwell. That team has now been relegated to the second division. I am perfectly sure that over the next season they will find themselves in considerable financial difficulties.
English Members may not realise that in the second division the guaranteed "gate" to a visiting club is only £100; and in about eight cases out of 10 that guarantee is all that the visiting club gets. When sums like that are involved, the increase in Entertainments Duty weighs heavily. If it is not the only factor, it is a major factor in the financial difficulties of certain teams; and the natural result is what we have seen in the past.
I listened with sympathy to my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) relating how this year his local team had had to transfer all their players. But what happens, not just in one year, but in practically every year, with Scottish clubs? Apart from Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and Hibernian, as soon as clubs get a good player he is gone. They cannot keep him. They would like to retain him, but they must transfer him. What it comes to is that the Chancellor has increased the Entertainments Duty, and it has to be made up out of local patronage and patriotism.
In this question of exempting cricket alone the right hon. Gentleman has drawn not merely a line; he has drawn a circle, he has isolated it. He has said that this sport only shall benefit. There is no justification in logic. Certainly, the man in Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen cannot see any justification in the kind of reason given here why a person going to see a cricket game, where he gets hours and hours of so-called entertainment, should pay no entertainment tax whereas, because his traditional game is football, he has to pay tax. I sincerely hope that, recognising that the ordinary man in Britain is a person who judges things on their reasonableness, the Chancellor will think again.
I wish to make a few brief comments on the speech of the Financial Secretary because his, and the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. R. Bell), are the only speeches we have had or are likely to have against this Amendment. The Financial Secretary began his argument by saying that we had had this tax for a long time. The Football Association point out that they were first invited to bear this tax as an emergency measure in 1916. When a tax is imposed as an emergency measure its continuance year after year is surely a matter of grievance to the person on whom it is imposed, and not, as the Financial Secretary seemed to argue, that it is actually a justification, having first been imposed as a matter of emergency, why it should now be continued indefinitely.
The Financial Secretary then skated very lightly over the fact that the rate of tax was increased by the Chancellor last year. In doing that he used the phrase "at various rates." When his attention was drawn to it he said that he would not deal with that aspect of the matter because the Amendment did not ask for a reduction in the rate, but for complete exemption. I ask him and the Chancellor whether it is not still open to the Chancellor to say that he will consider a reduction in the rate and invite my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), in view of that, to withdraw his Amendment. What view my hon. Friend would take I cannot say, unless and until the offer is made, but surely the Financial Secretary, if he wanted to put up anything better than a blank wall, might at least have made a suggestion along those lines.
Thirdly, the Financial Secretary laid great stress on the concession which we all agree has been given to amateur sport, but when he did that he completely neglected the fact that if the standards of football are to be maintained that can only be done on a basis of professional sport; and that it is the professional side of the game which enables the Chancellor to collect any revenue and which enables the football pools, from which the Chancellor also derives revenue, to have any existence.
I wish particularly to draw the Chancellor's attention to the position of some of the less prosperous professional clubs. When I say "less prosperous" I am not thinking merely of those who may happen to be in the third division, because the club for which I have a particular affection—Fulham—is not in the third division. Not long ago it was in the first division.
I am bound to say that if the Chancellor tried to arrange this tax by the position clubs were in he would land himself in difficulties, and I doubt whether it would be welcome to the football world as a whole. But one might look at the way in which this tax is assessed, and see whether there is any way of making it more proportionate to ability to pay, because that is not necessarily dependent on whether one is in the first, second or third division or in league football at all. There are considerable differences between clubs in respect of their ability to pay, and if the Chancellor was concerned with anything more than a stone wall he could give some attention to that aspect of the matter.
We have been told that there are revenue considerations, but here again the Chancellor has been offered a series of possible alternative sources of taxation ranging from the practical suggestion made, I think half inadvertently but subsequently fathered on to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), through a great many other proposals, and many more which would have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Adams) had they been in order, and several others which I should like to make myself if time, and your regard, Mr. Thomas, to what is actually before the Committee will permit me. There is really no lack of alternative possibilities, but there again the Financial Secretary was not particularly helpful.
I was speaking of the position of certain of the less well-off professional clubs. The relevant Act talks about clubs and institutions "run for profit." That is a ludicrous description of some professional football clubs; they are not within sight of a profit; they owe their existence very often to the outstanding generosity of quite a limited number of public-spirited people. They had their burdens added to by the Chancellor's action last year, and now they are faced not merely with the refusal of this Amendment but with no possibility of encouragement.
Finally, the Financial Secretary said that we had accepted the principle of discrimination and invited us on this side of the Committee to say—[Interruption.] Perhaps I ought to delay my remarks until a more convenient moment. The Financial Secretary said that we had accepted discrimination, and he asked whether we, on this side of the Committee, could urge any reason why football should be on one side of the discrimination rather than another.
No doubt he has been despatched to fetch the Financial Secretary.
There are reasons why, if there is to be discrimination, football should be on the favourable side of the fence. The claims of many different sports have been advanced on previous Amendments, and various types of football have been mentioned in the debate on this Amendment. I would say without fear of contradiction, however, that although there are a number of games to which there are strong local attachments, if anyone had honestly to answer the question, "What is the national game of the British people?" he would have to say, "Association football."
My right hon. Friend referred to it as our national winter pastime. Since the winter is, on average, much more of a national institution than summer, and lasts from September to May, there can be no question that when we speak of Association football that is the game of the British people. I do not think it matters very much by which game the rising generation learn to maintain their health, develop their bodies and enjoy themselves, but if there is one game above all that sets every boy wanting to kick a ball about it is Association football. That is why I say that if there is to be discrimination it should be on the favourable side of the fence.
To make myself heard at times I have taken a little longer than I should have done, but I would, finally, remind the Chancellor that he has really had no support at all in opposing the Amendment except from the Financial Secretary and the utterly miserable speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South. He took the view that people who watch cricket are engaged in a dignified pastime, even if they are asleep, whereas he argued that watching football was a form of mass hysteria. He added to that, by way of discrediting the Opposition, the old argument about our becoming a nation of watchers. Of course people watch. Why not? We do not say this of the Royal Academy. We do not say, "Why are you paying to watch? Why do you not paint pictures for yourself?" At the same time, we may take the view that there are enough people painting pictures already.
We do not put up a notice in the Members' Gallery of the House of Commons saying, "Do not be content to be a watcher: stand for Parliament yourself." It is entirely proper that we should watch games. We are not becoming a nation of watchers to the exclusion of playing games. More people are playing games than ever before. We are finding difficulty in providing playing fields. This is partly because people can watch the games they like played at a first-class level. That is the importance of professional sport. I hope that if the Chancellor cannot accept the Amendment he will try to find a way in which to make a concession.
I am very sorry that the Minister of Health is not in his place now, although he was here a little earlier. I should have liked to have him here to advise the Chancellor while I make my speech. I thought at one time that the Chancellor had sent for him in order to rebut by arguments, but perhaps his presence and his absence are merely coincidental. I am sorry that the Chancellor seems so unhappy today. I take a professional interest in him. I have seen him wilting steadily ever since my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) spoke to him in those dulcet and kind tones.
I thought that when my hon. Friend sat down the Chancellor would say, "I do not think that anything further need be said. Let us call it a day. I give in." I remind him that my hon. Friend was sincere when he declared that we did not want a Pyrrhic victory, although we are confident that we should defeat the Chancellor in a Division. But we do not want to embarrass him. The Coronation episode is coming along very soon and we would very much rather hear that he would surrender to us than that we should be forced to bring him to miserable defeat.
If the Chancellor is unhappy today, his must blame not only himself but his advisers, because they have not classified the type of sport which ought to be taxed and the type that should go duty-free. Sports tend to fall into three different types. First, there is the sport where only human beings compete or emulate each other's performances. Secondly, there are the sports where human beings make use of animals to assist them. Thirdly, there are those sports where human beings do not compete at all but only animals compete and human beings gamble on their performances.
In the speedway the machine is used by a human being and that brings the sport within the first category. If the Chancellor thinks of the matter in that way—and I am sure that it is not a new thought to him—he would certainly say that there should be no duty at all where human beings exercise their bodies for the purpose of recreation or to provide entertainment. If, however, in horse racing one has to consider the form of the horse as being more important than the form of the jockey, the right hon. Gentleman might have second thoughts about that and put that sport into another category.
When we come to dog racing, and I hope that I am not making myself unpopular with anybody—
On a point of order. I have a great deal to answer in this debate. Now it appears that I shall have to give an answer on the whole structure of the Entertainments Duty. This is the third debate that we have had on this subject. The first was about amateurs, the second was last night and the other was about football. Unless we adhere to the question of football, I am afraid that I shall need a long time in which to reply.
It has been made clear during the debate that I wanted the discussion to be confined to the subject of football. But it has also been clear that on both sides of the Committee during the course of the day illustrations have been given. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not prolong his illustration.
I am most grateful for that Ruling. I am very glad to know that the Chancellor was able to cry touché on something I was saying to him. I shall not waste time by discussing the medical and health aspects of these games, but it appears to be the custom to say a few words about the sport which is played in one's constituency. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South gave many examples and spoke most eloquently about the matter, I shall be brief.
The Chancellor should be reminded once again that teams which are not in the first division tend to have serious financial difficulties. The team in Stoke-on-Trent, Stoke City, is the greatest and best in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is why they went down."] We were able to win the cup by proxy by lending one player to Blackpool. We made that sacrifice as well as the sacrifice of another player who is one of the best centre-halves ever produced by us, and we have a right to consideration.
The Chancellor was very kind to us on the subject of cricket last year. He kept his promise. I am not one who thinks that cricket is inferior to football or vice versa. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to give the same sincere and careful consideration to football between now and next season as he gave to cricket. The fact that £1,500,000 is involved should not press too harshly upon him. He should bear in mind what I said at the start—that if sport is properly classified and indexed we should know where to tax and where to set sport free.
I support the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) for Rugby League football. Naturally, as I live in a Rugby League area, I have a bias in favour of this type of game but not for any one team. I am in the fortunate position of being the only Member of the House of Commons who has two Rugby League teams in his constituency. Therefore, I cannot afford to have a bias in favour of any one team.
As a result of the Chancellor's proposals last year both the teams in my constituency—Castleford and Featherstone— are in an invidious position. Neither team has a large town to back it. The total population of the area which supports the Featherstone team is less than 20,000. The Financial Secretary said that one of the reasons cricket was relieved of duty was that the proceeds were only £80,000. He said that a reduction in the duty on Rugby League football would mean a loss to the Treasury of £100,000.
Because of the increase in duty, the Featherstone team are due to pay over £1,000 more in 1952–53 than they paid in 1951–52. It works out that, in this small urban area of less than 20,000 population, football supporters are having to pay one hundredth part of the total duty which the Chancellor expects to collect from this type of football. One could agree with the Chancellor or the Treasury if the profit from these games were going into private hands or in dividends or anything of that kind, but the fact is that the Rugby League spend their money in helping to finance junior teams which are, first of all, breeding grounds for potential footballers, and which, secondly, render a great service, because the intermediate Rugby League teams are composed of lads of from 15 to 18 who have just left school and who otherwise might be drifting on to the streets and doing things which we would not like them to do. By becoming interested in the game, they are induced to live as good citizens and follow the healthy pastime of football.
These intermediate and junior teams are classed as amateurs, and it is true that they are relieved of paying duty, but the attendances at their games are not sufficient to make it possible for them to keep going, because it is only natural that football supporters will follow the first-class teams. What actually happens, therefore, is that the Rugby League make grants to these junior teams either for the purpose of paying the rents of their grounds or assisting in their purchase. I have one case, not in my own constituency but in my home town, in which the Rugby League purchased the ground for the junior team.
One can see how difficult it is for these teams in the Rugby League areas, and especially in areas of small populations, to keep going, and why they find this duty such a burden. If it were not for the supporters' clubs, which raise money by various means all through the season in order to help to keep the clubs going, they would not be able to continue at all, and the fact is that the supporters of these clubs are actually paying twice, because they pay through the various activities of the supporters' club and also have to pay the admission charge to the games and the extra duty imposed by the Chancellor.
Therefore, I feel that the plea which has already been made by my hon. Friends is such that the least that I can do is to support it. While the Financial Secretary has not given us much hope that he is prepared to do anything, I trust that the Treasury will look into the matter again, at least as far as the Rugby League clubs are concerned.
When, about four hours ago, this spate of magnificent but slightly repetitive oratory began, the Chancellor intervened to say that he found that he had satisfied the members of the football club which he graces by being president with the action he had taken. It is perfectly true that, in his constituency, there are many people who support what he has done, but, as a constituent of the right hon. Gentleman, I must utter a warning.
Only a few days after the Chancellor received the plaudits of the local football club for what he had done, the supporters of that club went to the polling booths and saw to it that, in that particular town, the central town in that right hon. Gentleman's constituency, the Tory candidates were at the bottom of the poll, and that, for the first time, Labour was the strongest party on the urban council, and, clearly, from now on, always will be the strongest. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that the Chancellor should not be deluded by the temporary applause of the local football club, but should recognise that, in his constituency and outside, this act of discrimination will not bring him "rosies all the way."
I do not believe that there is a class attitude to cricket, or that it is a middle-class game vis-à-vis football being a working-class game, but I do suggest that one's attitude to cricket does depend to a great deal on where one lives and on the facilities which there are for playing cricket. The elevation of cricket almost into a way of life—a similar description as that used for agriculture by some people—takes place only in those areas where people themselves can play the game, and it is for this reason that football is really our national game, because the attitude towards the game is very largely conditioned by the position and conditions in which people are living.
I want to give, as an illustration of the importance of a reduction in the Entertainments Duty on football, some facts and figures about my own constituency. Mine is a vastly different constituency from that of the Chancellor. His is a widely scattered, rather agricultural area in which practically every village and small town has a playing field. Mine is an overcrowded London constituency, in which there is not one single full-sized football field or cricket pitch. There is nowhere where children can go to learn to play the game of football on a full-sized pitch. We have 1,000 people for every half acre of open recreation ground that we have left, and the L.C.C. lay down a minimum standard this year that there should be 2½ acres of recreation ground for every 1,000 persons.
In future, the rule is to be that there should be four acres, but today we have less than half an acre for every 1,000 people, and no available places where children can learn to play games. So what do they do? They play games in the street, and the only game which they can play properly in the street, out of which they can have fun and which costs them very little, is football.
Therefore, we breed in my constituency what the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Bell) regards as something really offensive and wrong—a race of spectators—but they are spectators because they cannot become a race of participants. When they are a race of spectators, what do they do but, quite naturally, gravitate towards the Millwall Football Club, which is a team of some merit, although I myself confess to having a more aristocratic taste, having been brought up on first division teams. Nevertheless, Millwall are a great team, and missed promotion by only a few points.
What is the position of Millwall today? As a result of the increase in the duty last year, Millwall's contribution went up from £3,800 to £10,100, and, if it had been a full year and the other three games had been included, it would have been £12,000. As a result of that, not only have the attendances gone down, but this particular club is £2,000 worse off than it was during the previous year. Football teams are making very considerable contributions towards the Exchequer anyway. The cost of a football with the tax on it. is about £5, and the cost of travelling around the country has gone up enormously.
All these things are hindrances, and there is, of course, a fear that if the Chancellor were to meet our demands here, and put back the duty to the level at which it stood last year, there would be profiteering by some of the clubs, who would stick to the money and use it to meet these rising costs. I am empowered to say that Mr. Hewitt, the manager of the Millwall Football Club, would devote any reduction in the tax on football which the Chancellor might give to reducing the admission price. That is a magnificent gesture from a club which is not doing so well financially as it was two years ago.
We have been asked to suggest how the revenue could be raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirk-dale (Mr. Keenan) suggested increasing the tax on racing. Quite clearly, racing could support a much more swingeing tax than it is paying at present. The spectacle of thousands of people trooping off to a racecourse on every working day and adding nothing to the production of the wealth of the country is not a pleasant sight at a time when workers are being told that it is their job to produce more. If the Chancellor were to impose a steeply graded tax between the Silver Ring and the Tatter-sall enclosure he would raise a considerable amount of money, and if it results in more people staying at work that would not be bad either.
Therefore, the Chancellor has a chance of easing the situation a little more and of making himself really popular with the working people. They would understand a gesture of this kind much more readily than the gesture he has made in the last few weeks—returning money to people who do not need it so much as the working class.
In view of the fact we have already had a long debate I want want to say only two things, and I do so for two reasons: first, because the Financial Secretary has invited suggestions, and secondly, because a number of references have been made in this debate to the club which I have the honour to represent and of which I have been a supporter for nearly 40 years, Arsenal, who are this year's League champions.
It would be a mistake to think that the opposition to the duty on football comes only from the smaller or third division clubs. In fact, the Arsenal have asked me to voice their opposition to the present rate of Entertainments Duty on football. It may be that they are in a happier position than some of the smaller clubs, but the injury done to football by the existing duty is widespread. I would remind the Chancellor of what he said on 6th May last year when he intervened in the course of some remarks which I was making. He was then justifying the increase on the duty on football and he intervened to say that it was not the clubs who would suffer so much as the public, because the extra duty was passed on to the spectators.
The public suffer just as much as the clubs, and I was alarmed when the Financial Secretary seemed to say that the Chancellor would look at this matter to see how it affected the smaller and third division clubs. Quite obviously he cannot discriminate between one kind of football club and another or between the supporters of one club and another. All followers of football are affected equally in his matter.
The Chancellor has got himself into this difficulty by having increased the duty on football and other sports last year. It is from that error that the whole of the trouble in which he now finds himself stems. I can, of course, follow the arguments against taking off the duty altogether, but the Chancellor has promised to keep it under review, and if he cannot exempt football altogether, I should like him to consider finding some other way of modifying the discrimination between one game and another. Would he consider whether he ought not to reduce the rate of duty on football and other games to the level at which it was before he raised it last year? Would he bear in mind that, as regards the Arsenal, the effect of the increased duty imposed last year was to increase the Entertainments Duty paid by the Arsenal from approximately £17,000 to £41,000, an increase of about 150 per cent., which is more or less common over the whole field?
This increased levy bears most hardly on those who do not buy tickets for the stands, but who go on the terraces. There, as he knows, the lowest price at present is 1s. 9d. One of the rules of the Football Association is that all clubs must charge the same minimum price for the lowest priced seats. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to consider raising the present limit of exemption from duty from 1s. to 1s. 6d. The effect of that would be that all clubs could reduce their minimum charge from 1s. 9d. to 1s. 6d. This, in the case of the Arsenal, would save some £8,000 in Duty, and substantially all this reduction would be passed on to the public supporters on the terraces. By assisting the public he would equally assist the clubs, because they would get larger attendances and would therefore benefit.
I am glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) because I differ from him, my constituency not having the honour to contain any football team so eminent as the Arsenal.
I wish to make one comment on the speech of the Financial Secretary, because when he was speaking of what the Chancellor had done for football in general he laid great emphasis on the concession given to amateurs. He conveyed the impression that there were thousands of young men playing football every Saturday afternoon in hundreds of amateur clubs all over the country which in the past year paid tax and which in the future will not.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will know that that was quite a false impression, and that the amateur clubs which will receive the benefit are few in number and far between geographically. Of all the thousands of young men playing football on a given afternoon in their hundreds of amateur clubs, there are probably not more than one in 20 who play any game on which Entertainments Duty is charged. The rest—the vast majority—play on open grounds where there is no gate at all and where the only money they receive is collected by taking round a box and shaking it on the touchline. Those clubs, of course, are neither better off nor worse off this year than they were last as far as tax is concerned.
The right hon. Gentleman's main reason for resisting this Amendment was that the revenue could not stand it; an eminently respectable reason. I have therefore been much impressed by the fact that, with the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East. most of my hon. Friends have concentrated their attention on the smaller clubs and those in the greatest financial difficulty at the present time. This sentiment has been expressed by the Financial Secretary, by the hon. Member the voice from Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) and by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). I was particularly glad to hear the hon. Member for Barry because the last time I saw Barry Town play they were defeated by Gravesend in a sensational finish. All these hon. Gentlemen and others have expressed their interest in the smaller clubs. That being so, I invite the Chancellor to look at the principle involved in the last Amendment on the Paper to this Clause which stands in the name of several hon. Members and myself.
Perhaps I might be allowed briefly to draw attention to the principle involved and to commend it to the Chancellor so that he may think about it between now and the Report stage. Here is a device for remitting the first £100 of the tax when the total gate does not exceed a certain figure. The Amendment suggests that figure might be £1,000, but if the Chancellor does not like that figure he could choose another which would not result in his losing very much revenue from the big revenue makers such as the Arsenal.
It is clear that the principle of that Amendment would cost the Chancellor almost nothing on the big money raisers and would offer very great benefit to the smaller clubs. If, like other hon. Members, I may instance a club in my own constituency to illustrate the point, I should like to give one or two round figures. I leave out the shillings and pence, the pounds and even the tens of pounds, since these would be particular to the one club I have in mind. If I give round figures I believe they will be found representative of those of large numbers of clubs.
The Gravesend and Northfleet Club makes a loss of about £500 a year. The loss is increasing and it is covered by the generosity of "investors." That word should be put in quotation marks because they invest out of local patriotism and do not expect to see a profit on their money. The "gates" amount to just under £6,000 for 12 months, and the tax to some £750. So the income of the club is just over £5,000. But its expenditure is nearly £8,000. It may be wondered how, with an expenditure of £8,000 and an income of £5,000 the club suffers a loss of only about £500 a year. The answer is, of course, that the balance is made up by the activity of the supporters' club, which raises something like £2,000 to £3,000.
Those being the figures, I think that the Financial Secretary was quite wrong when he said that this tax carries out the principle that we should impose an Entertainments Duty on people who pay to see a professional entertainment, because if the supporters' club were not in vigorous activity there would be no Gravesend and Northfleet Club for anybody to go to see. That must apply to a very large number of comparable clubs. The fact is that the tax is not being imposed on those who go to see professional sport but is being imposed on the voluntary efforts of those who work to sustain a supporters' club; and there is nothing so bad as putting a tax on voluntary efforts.
That being so, I earnestly hope that the Chancellor and his advisers, between now and the Report stage, will look at the principle embodied in the Amendment, which I have already mentioned as on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo) and myself and others of my hon. Friends.
If there were any doubts in the minds of the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary about the strong feelings which exist in the constituencies about this matter, by now those doubts should have been dispelled. This has been no party debate. It is quite true that rather more of my hon. Friends than hon. Members opposite, have spoken, but that is simply due to the fact that, for reasons with which we are all familiar, rather more of my hon. Friends represent constituencies where there are important Association and Rugby League football clubs.
It is undoubtedly the case that in those constituencies, particularly among supporters of the clubs, there is strong objection to the discrimination which is being introduced in the proposals in this Bill, especially in view of the difficult financial position from which so many of these clubs are suffering. The Financial Secretary tried to answer the case which has been put by my hon. Friends. I have a great deal of sympathy for the hon. Gentleman. It often happens that Financial Secretaries have to defend bad cases: but this was a particularly bad case and it was obvious from the way the hon. Gentleman spoke that he was aware that it was so.
He descended to the flimsiest arguments of a very legalistic character. He showed himself very much lacking in humanity. He did not seem to appreciate the human side of this problem and I strongly endorse the offer made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) that the Financial Secretary should go with him to the clubs and pubs and hear what is said about the Treasury and the tax which they imposed last year.
The Financial Secretary said that the tax had been imposed for a long time. But it has been imposed on cricket for a long time. There is no distinction there. He drew attention to the fact that Sir Stanley Rous last year had been anxious that amateur clubs should be excluded, thereby appearing to imply that the Football Association did not bother at all about anything else. I think that the hon. Gentleman has probably been corrected sufficiently by my hon. Friends, for example, by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) who quoted the request from the Arsenal, one of the leading clubs, to support this Amendment.
The Financial Secretary made great play of the fact that this Amendment did not merely return us to the position before last year but sought to remove the tax altogether. That is perfectly true. But are we to understand from what he said that there is a possibility, at any rate, that the Chancellor will consider the possibility of bringing the tax back to what it was in 1951? Although that certainly would not remove the grievance that exists because of this discrimination, it would be an improvement on the present position.
I would say—I do not know whether my hon. Friends would agree with me— that it is really the financial situation of the clubs which is our main concern here, and therefore even a concession of that kind would be welcomed. Indeed, if the Chancellor has any intention of following the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) in the Amendment which was not called, that action would do something to help these smaller clubs. If the Chancellor is prepared to consider those suggestions, I feel sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), though not entirely satisfied, would respond in a very satisfactory manner.
All we had from the Financial Secretary, in explanation of what the Chancellor was going to do, were some very vague words indeed. I took down his words, and this is what he said: "The Chancellor will not ignore any developments which may or may not take place.' I am delighted to hear that that is in deed the case, and that the Chancellor will not ignore the developments which may or may not take place, but it does not really reassure us that he has any serious intention of reconsidering this matter.
The Chancellor began the whole of this discussion in his speech on the Budget statement by giving all sorts of reasons why cricket should be singled out —that it was somehow or other a more amateur game, that it was a traditional sport, and that anyway it did not cost him very much money to give up the tax on it. But it is clear that he has been forced to abandon every one of those arguments. I need not go over them again. My hon. Friends have made the position perfectly clear.
The Chancellor is driven back, I think, to one argument only, and that is that the situation of cricket financially was so bad that it was essential to take this step of exempting cricket from tax altogether and by implication, therefore, that the football clubs were not at all in the same position. That is the only argument that is left to the right hon. Gentleman. Yet we have had extremely little argument from him on that point. He has not told us exactly how the financial position of the county cricket clubs compares with that of the Rugby League clubs. We have not had any satisfactory answer to the points made by my hon. Friends. As I said last night, half the Rugby League clubs two years ago were making losses, and I have no doubt that their position was far worse last season.
We have had no answer to the many illustrations given by my hon. Friends about the difficult situation of many of the Association football clubs. It is not good enough for the Financial Secretary to ask whether the tax has catastrophic effects. He does not claim that it has catastrophic effects on cricket. The fact is that when these clubs get into real difficulties—whether by reason solely of the tax or because money does not go as far as it used to go, or because there is a more deflationary situation—whatever the reason, if they are likely to have to shut up shop altogether, then it really is essential for the Chancellor to reconsider this tax.
The Chancellor made one rather striking admission in his speech last night. He confessed that he had made this concession on cricket partly because he was afraid that he could not carry a majority of the Committee with him. I submit that that is an argument that he should bear in mind very closely this year. I would remind him that a number of his hon. Friends have spoken most strongly in support of this Amendment. I can assure him that, from his own point of view, none of us wishes to see such a promising career cut short in mid-stream, and we prefer that he should once again find that discretion was the better part of valour.
I have been wondering what other proposal or offer I could make to him in the hope that he would see where his own interests lie. The only thing I can suggest is this. We saw not long ago in a certain television programme that he produced a little cricket bat which I understand was presented to him by various of his hon. Friends. The cricket bat was signed by those gentlemen. I am going to make him an offer. He can have from us either a Soccer ball or a Rugby ball. [HON. MEMBERS: "Both."] He will observe how generous my hon. Friends are. Of course, I must make it plain that they will have to pay for this ball. Not only that, but we will sign the ball. Every person who has spoken in this debate will sign it. In addition, we will have no objection to the Chancellor of the Exchequer producing it in his next television programme. Of course, that will give us a bit of advertisement as well, but I know that he is not a man who would begrudge us that little bit of publicity.
If he can only make this concession and agree to exempt football as well as cricket from this tax, we will, as I say, present him with this ball. We shall be delighted to do it in any way that he likes. We will have a special ceremony for it if that suits him. He will have this delightful object for life. He will be able to point to it with pride when his grandchildren grow up. He will be able to say, "This was presented to me not only by my own supporters but by the whole House of Commons." With this offer before him, will he please come to his senses and give us this Amendment?
If it were the case that all the hon. Members who have taken part in this debate were to sign these footballs—both Rugby and Association —we should have to have very large balls, because I have ascertained from the Chair that some 29 speakers have taken part in the debate. I do, however, value very much the solicitude which the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) is showing for my welfare, and were I not to find, in the beautifully bound copies of HANSARD that I have before me, the views and opinions of so many hon. and right hon. Members opposite who agreed to the action I have taken upon cricket and placed their names on the Order Paper asking me to make a concession in favour of cricket, I might feel very much more in need of the footballs that the right hon. Gentleman has offered me.
The reason for this Amendment arises from the fact that a concession has been made in the case of cricket. It is, therefore, urged by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends that a similar concession should be made in regard to football. Looking at this matter purely from the point of view of revenue—because I do not want to repeat the speeches I have made in previous debates on this subject —and in the hard-hearted way I have to look at it, there is a difference in a concession of about £80,000 and a concession of £1½ million. There is a vital difference between what has already been agreed by the Committee in the debate we had last night and the concession which is now asked for by the right hon. Gentleman, namely, that a large portion of the sports section of the structure of the Entertainments Duty shall be removed from the middle, where it is now, and that a concession should be made amounting to about £1½ million. Despite the blandishments of the right hon. Gentleman I must say quite flatly that I am not in a position to accept this Amendment, and the sooner we come to a decision on this subject the better.
I want to make one or two observations upon what has been said. When the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) dealt with the Entertainments Duty in 1946, the structure was as follows: Horse racing, dog racing and speedway racing were in with the cinemas, at the top—and football, boxing and cricket were in with the theatres, at the bottom. The story that follows should be listened to by hon. Members opposite because the alterations in the Entertainments Duty hitherto have been made by Chancellors of the Exchequer almost entirely under pressure from hon. Members, so if there is a difficulty about this duty now it is as a result of previous pressure by hon. Members.
This fact was accentuated in 1948, when it was found necessary to reduce the scale of duty for the theatres. At that time, therefore, owing to the reduction of duty in respect of theatres, those sports which were in the same scale of duty gained a reduction which was quite unintentional in the mind of the creator of the Entertainments Duty structure—the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland. When I came along I succeeded a most dreadful row and revolution on the subject of speedway racing, in which the Tight hon. Member for Leeds, South had been submitted to the most obscene form of pressure groups—from his own supporters—ever known in this country.
Happily for this country he now sits on the other side of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to stand up to that pressure as best he could and he did so with considerable energy. He was like a fox pursued by the hounds, and at length he reached his lair only by covering his own scent by saying that he would institute an inquiry into the matter. That inquiry is what I found on assuming office after his untimely "death." I also found the mangled remains not only of the right hon. Gentleman but of the Entertainments Duty structure. I therefore proceeded to readjust the duty not according to the lines I necessarily thought right, but on lines which were in response to the inquiry and what had gone before. Having accepted those lines, I naturally took responsibility for them, which is all I could do.
The result of that inquiry was that a new group, which included sports, was set up in the centre of the Entertainments Duty structure. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends are now proposing to put a bomb under the new Entertainments Duty structure and remove from it the sport which provides the main amount of duty. If the Committee insist on that procedure going through tonight they will deal a very serious body blow—we are coming to boxing very shortly—against the Entertainments Duty structure as a whole. Frankly, I could not stand for such a step being taken tonight in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. It would have an effect upon all the other revenue we get from Entertainments Duty, and that would be wrong.
I revert to the remarks which I made in the debate last night when I quoted from my speech of 6th May about cricket, a speech in response to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). I then said that the position of cricket was quite different, and, in column 282 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th May, 1952, I am reported as saying that I would review the position of cricket. At the end of that debate we decided to exempt cricket during last summer.
On examining the matter again for this year I was, naturally, aware of the difficulty of treating one sport differently from another but, as a result of the year's experience, I came to the conclusion that not only had we been right to exempt cricket last year but that we should be wrong, and it would be disastrous for cricket, if we brought cricket back again into the Entertainments Duty structure and taxed it. I decided that the only logical step was to leave it out.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, South asked how I could take a step like that, and do it on the pretext that cricket clubs are suffering, when I did not give the figures to show the difference in suffering between cricket and football clubs. I think that that is the best debating point he made, and it has great validity. My reason is this. If I am to give the knowledge which must come to me of the position of cricket clubs, I think it would make the situation for cricket more difficult than it is. It is not for me to cry stinking fish about the position of cricket clubs or to retail the balance sheets of cricket clubs of which I am not a member. I cannot take that step. Nor can I take such a step with football clubs. I am afraid I must, without being pontifical, ask hon. Members to take it from me that I reached my decision on the position of cricket from the evidence put before me and in the light of the arguments I gave last night, and only after very great care and consideration.
Hon. Members will say that there are football clubs which are in a bad way, and that is true. The position was beautifully summed up by Sir Stanley Rous last year, when he said:
I do hope M.P.s will stress the fact that the Association Football League is not really composed of a few big League clubs. It is true that they attract the money and the tax, but what I am so deeply concerned about is the effect of the Entertainments Duty on thousands of amateur clubs up and down the country, with their million players or so."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1952; Vol. 500, c. 321.]
That was quoted last year. It was precisely those small clubs which I have attempted to help through the remission of duty on amateur sport and I believe that has made a considerable difference to certain clubs.
The hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) referred to the club in my town, attaching to that various rather undesirable observations about the results of the local government elections there. We can deal with local government elections conducted on a very small poll, at a later date, as the hon. Member will see, being one of my neighbours in the country. In any case, I do not mix overmuch in local government affairs, as I am too busy. There are clubs such as that in my home town and elsewhere which will profit from that exemption, but that still leaves a variety of small clubs, namely, the third division clubs and other small professional clubs, to which reference was made by the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), who also referred to our happy association in the field of foreign affairs.
I am afraid that on this occasion I cannot go further than the Financial Secretary has gone. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South was worried about the language of the Financial Secretary which he found somewhat jejune—namely, "I might or might not pay attention to developments which might or might not take place." The Financial Secretary is obviously preening himself for promotion if he can use language which so well protects his chief. I think he deserves every congratulation. It reminds me of those unhappy days when I used to stonewall, when I opposed the right hon. Gentleman when I was at the Foreign Office. I am glad that my pupil, the Financial Secretary, does it as well as I did.
I will say this in supplement to what the Financial Secretary said, that I will undertake to watch the incidence of the duty on that type of football club during the coming season. But I cannot go any further than that. I must ask the Committee for an absolute decision to reject this Amendment. Whatever the result of any watching may be over the year I must confess that I need the revenue which comes in from the football duty. I regard it as an integral part of the structure of the duty as a whole, and I think that there are clubs who can afford to pay, if we are to have any Entertainments Duty at all.
Therefore, in view of these arguments I must ask the Committee to reject this Amendment which has been moved and supported so movingly by so many hon. Members, and which has provided us with a typical experience of this place, namely, a debate on something which interests everybody and conducted in a good spirit.
|Division No. 178.]||AYES||[8.45 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Gooch, E. G.||Moyle, A.|
|Adams, Richard||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mulley, F. W|
|Albu, A. H.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Murray, J. D.|
|Alton, Soholefield (Crewe)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Nally, W.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Grey, C. F.||Oldfieid, W. H.|
|Aulee, R. Hon. C. R.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Orbach, M.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oswald, T.|
|Baird, J.||Grimond, J.||Padley, W. E.|
|Balfour, A.||Hall, Rt Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Page I, R. T.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Bartley, P.||Hamilton, W. W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hannan, W.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Bence, C. R.||Hargreaves, A.||Pannell, Charles|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Beswick, F.||Hastings, S.||Parker, J.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hayman, F H.||Paton, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Peart, T F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Popplewell, E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Porter, G.|
|Boardman, H.||Hobson, C. R.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Holman, P.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Holt, A. F.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Brockway, A F.||Houghton, Douglas||Pursey, Cmdr H.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hoy, J. H.||Rankin, John|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hynd, H. (Accnngton)||Richards, R.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Robens, Rt. Hon A.|
|Carmichael, J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Champion, A. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Janner, B.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Ross William|
|Clunie, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Royle, C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Colick, P. H.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Short, E. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Craddoek, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Jones, T.W. (Merioneth)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Keenan, W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Kenyon, C.||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Daines, P.||Key, Rt. Hon C. W.||Slater, Mrs. (stoke, N.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Kinley, J.||Slater, J.(Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lee. Frederick (Newton)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Snow, J.W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Deer, G.||Lewis, Arthur||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lipton, Lt Col. M.||Sparks, J.A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Logan, D. G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||MacColl, J. E.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich)||Mclnnes, J.||Strauss, Rt Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, F.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MacMillan, M. K (Western Isles)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mallalieu, J. P W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowastoft)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Manuel, A. C.||Thomas, lorwerlh (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marauand, Rt Hon. H. A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mason, Roy||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thorneycrofl, Harry (Clayton)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mellish, R. J.||Thornton, E.|
|Follick, M.||Messer, F.||Timmons, J.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Tomney, F.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, W||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moody, A. S.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Gailskell, Rt. Hon. H. T N.||Morley, R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wade, D. W.|
|Glanville, James||Mort, D. L.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Watkins, T. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)||Wigg, George||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Weilzman, D.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Wilkins, W. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Wells, William (Walsall)||Willey, F. T.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|West, D. G.||Williams, David (Neath)||Yates, V. F.|
|Wheeldon, W. E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|While, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Erroll, F. J.||Lockwood, Ll.-Col. J. C.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Finlay, Graeme||Low, A. R. W.|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Fisher, Nigel||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Arbuthnol, John||Fleteher-Cooke, C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||McAdden, S. J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Fort, R.||McCallum, Major D.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Foster, John||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Barber, Anthony||Gammans, L. D.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Garner-Evans, E. H.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Baxter, A. B.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Godber, J. B.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Gough, C. F. H.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gower, H. R.||Manningham-Butler, Sir R. E.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marples, A. E.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Texteth)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Birth, Nigel||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harden, J. R. E.||Maude, Angus|
|Black, C. W.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maudling, R.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Braine, B. R.||Hay, John||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Heath, Edward||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Hollis, M. C.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hope, Lord John||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Odey, G. W.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Horobin, I. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Carr, Robert||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian(Weston-super-Mare)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Osborne, C.|
|Cole, Norman||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Partridge, E.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hurd, A. R.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jennings, R.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Keeling, Sir Edward||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Kerr, H. W.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lambert, Hon. G.||Redmayne, M.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Leather, E. H. C.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Donner, P. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Drewe, C.||Lindsay, Martin||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Linstead, H. N.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Duthie, W. S.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Russell, R. S.||Storey, S.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Studholme, H. G.||ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Summers, C. S.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Scott, R. Donald||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. p. L. (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Shepherd, William||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wellwood, W.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Snadden, W McN.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Tilney, John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Speir, R. M.||Turner, H. F. L.||York, C.|
|Spans, Sir Patriok (Kensington, S.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Stevens, G. P.||Vane, W. M. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Mr. Kaberry and Mr. Wills.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Vosper, D. F.|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 24, after "Cricket," to insert "and boxing."
We contend that the Entertainments Duty has had the most disastrous effect on professional boxing and if it proceeds it will lead to its virtual extinction. This disastrous effect is proved in many ways. There has been a vast decrease in the number of professional tournaments held all over the country. Promoters find it almost impossible to make a profit, but —and I am sure that I shall carry the Committee with me on this point—they find it very easy to make a loss, and therefore it is not worth the risk.
The serious aspect of this lies in the small promotions, because the small promotions are the nursery of the boxing profession. It is here that future champions are born and made. If these are closed it will mean the end of championship boxing in this country. I should like to give a few examples.
Monday nights have always been the popular nights throughout the boxing season on which to hold promotions and as a general rule in the past it has been the custom to hold 10 or 12 such promotions, but on Monday, 12th April, 1953, there was only one tournament in the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. My second example is that during the six months ending 31st March, 1953, there was an overall decrease of 48 per cent. in the number of commercial promotions compared with the same period a year previously. My third example is that in January, February and March this year there have been decreases of 42, 47 and 56 per cent. compared with those months last year. This very serious decrease will continue.
The most serious factor is that the large tournaments comprise about 8 per cent. of the total number of promotions, the small promotions therefore comprising roughly 92 per cent. and thus it is the small tournaments which are being killed. By doing that we are also killing the backbone of British boxing because it is in the small tournament that is discovered the talent which will ultimately produce the champions to fill the bills in the larger tournaments. The trouble is that we shall end up by killing the large promoters as well.
Mr. Jack Solomons, who has done so much for British boxing, cancelled his April tournament because, with Entertainments Duty so high and with shortage of talent, he could not afford to risk anything less than "house full" signs at Harringay. This is what he said:
Even if I sold every one of the 10,000 odd tickets, I would only just pay my way and if I had a few empty seats I would lose money. That means I would get a punch on the nose for nothing.
The gross taking at a recent Midlands promotion amounted to £7,000. After all expenses and taxes had been paid, the promoter was left with a profit of £200. He had an attractive bill, and he had good weather, which he was very lucky to have.
I want now to take the point of view of the boxers themselves. I want to take the point of view of a young man of talent who has the making of a champion, and to indicate the impossible task with which he will be faced in the future
if the tournaments continue to decrease. The young man's time is limited, he has to get his experience while he is young, and he can only become a champion the hard way, and that is by fighting. Don Cockell is reported to have said the other night after he had beaten Johnny Williams:
No boxer can train for 12 months. What I need is more fights. When I am rested I am aiming at one a month. A champion is cooked by lack of serious bouts.
How right he was. Even the hard muscles of Jack Dempsey softened through lack of serious fighting.
I wonder if my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury or anyone else in his Department has any idea how often a young man should fight on his way up the ladder to the championship class. I should like to illustrate that by examples from history. Take Jimmy Wilde. The year that he started fighting was 1913, and in that year he had 29 fights. Three years later, in 1916, he won the world flyweight title, and he had 15 fights. In the year that Kid Lewis won the championship—1917—he had 28 fights. Take Sugar Ray Robinson. In 1941 he had 20 fights.
How about Georges Carpentier, who was light-heavyweight champion of the world in 1920? My word, he was rough to our heavyweights. He knocked out Billy Wells in the first round, and Joe Beckett twice in the first round, and the last fight took only 23 seconds. The point is that on the way up as a welterweight, in 1911, Carpentier had 20 fights.
My last example is Jack Dempsey. Again on the way up the ladder, in the year 1918, before he won the heavyweight championship of the world, he had 22 fights. Seventeen of them were knockouts and 12 of them were in the first round. There is practice for you, Sir Charles. That is the way to get your eye in. Knock 'em bow legged in the first round and bring home the bacon.
That brings me to my point. How many fights can a young man of talent have today? I have indicated that in the past these champions had on the average 20 fights a year. Today, I am informed by my colleagues on the British Boxing Board of Control, a coming champion would be lucky if he had six fights a year.
What chance have we in the future under these conditions? How can we find future champions?
I should like to thank my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary for the trouble he has taken with the British Boxing Board of Control in seeing them these last two years. They have much appreciated his giving them half an hour of his time on each occasion and his kind words and sympathy. But what we want this year, if we can have it, is some gesture so that we can have hope for the future. They wish that my right hon. Friend could knock down the tax, possibly this year, to 20 per cent. I implore the Chancellor to remove the tax, if not this year, next year. If he does not remove it, he will kill what is left of British boxing stone dead.
I rise to support the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport), and I do so in the belief that a large section of the people of this country are interested in and anxious that the sport of boxing should continue. I do not think that the manner in which some of the arguments that were put forward by the hon. and gallant Member were received would be the manner in which they would be received by the large majority of the people of our country. It is important that we should consider this Amendment in its full and proper light vis-à-vis a sport which is enjoyed by so many millions of our people.
I wish in the first place to indicate that I have, in a sense, an interest in this matter in that I have acted professionally for a certain number of people in the boxing world, but I am also interested in a personal sense because I have followed this sport for a considerable number of years. I am satisfied that if it is to continue, and that is the vital question—and it is for the Chancellor to answer the question whether he wishes it to continue —then the Amendment should be carried, because without the carrying of this Amendment or something similar to it the sport itself is bound to go out of existence in this country.
I am not concerned at the moment in arguing the merits or demerits of boxing as a sport. I am satisfied that there are, like myself, a large number of people who are interested in the sport and enjoy it, who think that it is an honourable sport and one which has distinguished this country, and in which this country has been distinguished by its boxers for many years. There may be people who hold a different view; that is a matter for them, and naturally they will vote against anything in the interests of this sport. As I say, it is not now my purpose to argue with them; if there is any argument adduced against the sport I am sure that there are plenty of Members here to answer effectively.
Here is what I am concerned about. I take it for granted that the Chancellor does not wish to destroy this sport. In those circumstances I would refer him to the arguments which he has used in respect of cricket and to the answers which he has given in relation to the arguments put forward in respect of the other sports that have been referred to in the course of our debates here. I do not accept his arguments in respect of those games. I am bound to say that I should have preferred him to have given way on the last Amendment in relation to football. Be that as it may, as the Chancellor chooses to use certain arguments, I wish to ask him how he can logically deny what we are asking in this Amendment in view of the fact that he has laid down, in particular, two points on which he has based his replies to pleas for a reduction or the removal of tax in respect of other sports.
His first argument was that in respect of football, for example, he could not deal with it in the way he was asked to do because it would mean removing a very large source of revenue. The Chancellor cannot say that about boxing because in the last six months, with the double taxation, he was able to obtain only £60,000, and in the next season, if this tax continues, he will obtain no more. I do not mean no more than another £60,000. I mean in the aggregate very little more than £60,000 for a year. Therefore, we are not dealing with a matter of vital importance to the question of taxation in the country.
I am sure that the Minister appreciates that for the purpose of this case I ask him to accept his theory that the Treasury must not be interfered with too much. As he has agreed quite rightly to accept a reduction of £80,000 tax in respect of cricket, he could accept a reduction of £60,000 tax on boxing. He cannot use the argument that that will materially affect the position, even if he assumes that another £20,000, say, might be obtained during the rest of the year.
His second point was that he was interested that a sport should not disappear because of taxation. Not only did he say that on this occasion this year but he used the argument last year. He said that he would keep his eye on the position during the period in which the tax was imposed and that if he was satisfied that the imposition of the tax would kill the sport in question, or almost kill it, he would reconsider the matter.
My contention is that this duty is rapidly killing the sport and ultimately, if the charge is not removed or substantially reduced, there will be no boxing except for a few amateur events which will far from attract the whole of the public interested in boxing. Most people interested in amateur boxing are also interested in the major professional boxing which takes place. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I say that they are. If hon. Members go to some of the professional boxing tournaments they will see that a large number of people who go to amateur contests are there and as keenly interested in the professional sport as they are in the amateur sport.
Why do I say that the duty will kill boxing? I will give a few illustrations. A number of promoters were asked for their experience. As the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford said, the small promoters have suffered considerably and about 50 per cent. of the promoters have closed down already.
The hon. Gentleman will see when we come to vote on the Amendment. I should like to quote a statement made by one of the promoters from Birmingham. He says:
I promoted at Redditch, Worcestershire, from 14th December, 1951, to 7th March, 1952. The capacity of the hall was 995. I never showed more than £25 profit and had I opened out in October, 1952, with the present rate of tax it would have been absolutely impossible to pay expenses. The rent was £15 per show; the hire of the chairs £20 per show, the boxers £110 to £120. The new tax would have taken another extra £23 to £28. My Nuneaton venture which I commenced on 12th September, 1952, was promising, small hall capacity, 825 people for a full house, showed £35 profit after paying £42 tax. My second show on 6th and 7th October, with tax applying, on which I paid £45 in tax for a 75 per cent. house, resulting in a loss of £7. Making allowances for fog, rain, etc., a 75 per cent. house when you are promoting regular fortnightly shows is quite satisfactory to make a profit in ordinary circumstances. but not with this extra burden of the entertainment tax. Incidentally, I was making this my means of livelihood, owing to two serious operations, but I have now had to take a job that does show me a living wage, and will continue to do so until this heavy burden is removed. There are 80 boys around here who would have been kept busy in the boxing world at my shows.
He finishes up by saying that there are now only 24 instead of 72 of these boys engaged. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] While it may be cause for congratulation to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), it is not a cause of congratulation to those who are engaged in the sport of boxing.
Let me give one other illustration. This comes from Cambridgeshire:
We were only a small promotion, catering for approximately 1,200 people. Previous to the increase, we were able to continue promotions with a small profit. When the increased tax came into operation, we immediately began to show serious losses, which gradually increased as the season wore on, so that it is making it impossible for us to carry on. In five tournaments, the average approximate loss was £42 per tournament, and we considered it better to keep our money in our pockets than to work and fill the coffers of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the expense of emptying our own.
Those are two illustrations of cases which are representative of the experience of 50 per cent. of those promoters who have closed down already. It is anticipated that, if this duty continues— and I am quite serious about this, because the Minister has the figures before him and I do not think he can deny them—the
sport will be killed, and I therefore hope that the Chancellor will do something in the matter. The present position is that already at this stage in May, when the British Boxing Board of Control has usually received a large number of applications for permission to use certain halls for the further season, which applications are considered by them in June, the Southern Area Council, for example, has not received a single application.
That is the position of this very important sport at the present time, and I say to the Chancellor that he must consider whether he is going to continue this duty as it is at present, or whether, before the Report stage, he will reduce it to a considerable extent. If he leaves it as it is at present, he will deal almost a death blow to this sport. If he really wants to do that, then he is going the right way about it, but, if not, I appeal to him as a lover of this sport himself—as I believe he is—to see that something is done and done rapidly to remedy the position. There is no time to lose because otherwise the arrangements for the coming season will be entirely destroyed.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman and all the other people who are seriously considering this sport will look at it from the point of view I have put forward, and will do everything they can to encourage the Chancellor to change his mind in regard to this tax and to do what he said he would do concerning the removal of this tax from any sport where he thought this was necessary for its continuance.
All that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) and the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) have said bears out what is put forward by a former boxing promoter in my own constituency who happens to live in the town of Charteris, a town not unknown in the boxing world, and the home town of Eric Boon. It provides very good sport for amateur boxing up and down the country.
Having delivered a rather ineffective blow to the Government from the-orchestra pit last night, I hope that tonight I might be considered to be leading with my right when I ask the Financial Secretary to look once again at the point I put to him in a letter which embodied many of the points made by this particular promoter. I substantiate what was said by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West. I understand that of 109 boxing promoters in the country, 43 have now ceased business altogether. It might interest the Committee to know why this particular boxing promoter decided to stop promoting fights. He promotes boxing tournaments in Cambridge, and the figures which he has given me have been certified by the city treasurer and can, therefore, I think, be taken as accurate.
Before the increase in the Entertainments Duty introduced in last year's Budget, the profits for three contests in February, March and April, 1952, were £57 19s., £39 11s. and £38 19s. respectively. After the increase was imposed they tried to keep admission prices at the same level as they were before. They found, however, that that was impossible, and they had to increase their prices. Despite that, their meetings in October and December resulted in losses of £1 12s., £21 10s. and £13 14s.
In March, my constituent wrote to tell me that he had had to close down his business and had consequently had to cancel the programme for the rest of the year. As my hon. and gallant Friend and the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West pointed out, if this state of affairs continues, not only will boxing suffer very seriously, but the Chancellor will not get the revenue he expected to get. I think that both those facts ought to make the Government change their mind about this.
I strongly endorse what my hon. and gallant Friend said, that the more fighting a boxer does, within reasonable limits, the more likely he is to be successful. Judging by her intervention the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) would not, perhaps, agree with that. It is clear that if we want our boxers to do well against boxers from other countries we must give them the opportunity of getting tuned up so that they can meet them on equal terms. When we compare our own boxers, particularly men like Bruce Woodcock, with boxers from other countries, we sometimes get the feeling that the condition of the men with whom they are matched is far better than their own. I believe that that is largely due to the fact that they do not fight often enough.
We sometimes make the mistake, and not only in the boxing world, of not giving our men enough contests for them to be successful. I believe that we have now come to a stage in boxing where, whatever the amateurs do, and they will always produce fine boxers, they will never make up for the loss we shall suffer in British boxing if the "professional nursery," as it has been described in this debate, is not kept going. That is the real danger, and I implore the Government to think again about this taxation.
Almost every professional boxer in this country has come from the amateur ranks. On that there can be no dispute whatever, and if we destroy professional boxing it will obviously bring almost to an end the amateur side of the sport. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the reason that I have just given. [An HON. MEMBER: "The other way round."] I require no assistance either from my hon. Friends or anybody else in the Committee. I have entered the ring quite voluntarily and I am not likely to be counted out.
It is remarkable, indeed it is almost incredible, that hon. Members in various quarters of the Committee only regard a sport as being in reality a sport if it happens to fit in with their particular notions. It is a sport if one happens to have a football club in one's constituency. If there is no football club, either soccer or Rugby League or whatever it may be in one's constituency, either at the top or at the bottom of the league, then some hon. Members are unconcerned about the sport, and not much concerned about the subject of taxation.
We have had a great deal of talk in the course of previous debates about which is the oldest sport in the country. That sport—[An HON. MEMBER: "That is not taxed."]—some have claimed, is not cricket. Arguments have been adduced in support of Soccer which, it was claimed, was played in Scotland more than seven centuries ago. In fact, the oldest sport of all is combat between two individuals. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] This derives not from a period so recent as seven centuries ago, but is almost lost in the mists of antiquity.
By way of digression, I should like to indicate that some of the most pugnacious Members of the Committee on either side —perhaps I had better not indicate the actual geographical position at this stage —have momentarily and suddenly, for the purpose of this debate, developed pacific notions. A further digression, if I may indulge in one, is that in this House we have supported defence measures almost unanimously—
Of course, the hon. Gentleman is excluded from all these considerations—amounting to almost £1,600 million annually. The Committee is well aware of what expenditure has been incurred for defence; but for the purposes of the noble art of self-defence hon. Members are not prepared to spare a single farthing.
What is the argument against the continuance of this sport? I expect that hon. Members will agree that the amateur side of the sport should be continued and, indeed, encouraged. We have it in the schools; it is encouraged there. We have it in the Services; it is encouraged there. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not by the right hon. Member for Fulham, West."] I will come to the right hon. Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) before I have finished. I think we can beat her on points.
If I can carry hon. Members so far, that they are prepared to help in the encouragement of the amateur side of the sport, then, clearly, they have to consider what I said when I began—namely, that there is a close association, much closer than some hon. Members imagine, between the amateur side of the sport and the professional side. Of course, anybody who has any knowledge of this matter is well aware of that.
There are some hon. Members who have not much knowledge of the subject, although I am bound to say that whenever a big fight is coming along they are very anxious to procure tickets to attend it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes. Some of you have asked for it, and you will get it. After all, we must not be afraid of saying what we know to be true, even if it is discouraging for some of my hon. Friends. By the way, this is no split in the Labour Party. This is merely a difference of opinion about whether a particular sport should be encouraged.
Something has been said about the brutality of this sport. I do not suppose there is a single Member of the Committee—and I confine myself to the male Members—who has not at some time or other, at school, after leaving school, in adolescence, in manhood, early and middle aged, and even in late manhood, indulged in an altercation with someone as a result of which one or other has been the recipient of, shall I say, a black eye. That is not something which is unusual in this country; it is something which is characteristic. This is a democratic country, and hon. Members who speak and write about the brutal side of this sport—as some have done—show a complete misunderstanding of the position and, indeed, an extravagance of language.
I should have thought that hon. Members, generally speaking—I had better say "generally speaking"—are not without some pride when a professional boxer from the United Kingdom is able to display his prowess against a combatant from some other country. I suggest that hon. Members, generally speaking, were proud of the fact that Randolph Turpin was able to beat Sugar Ray Robinson. Why? He was engaged in an allegedly brutal sport. He was engaged in the professional side of the sport, which some hon. Members wish to discourage. Yet they take pride in the fact that a professional boxer of some talent and quality was able to stand up to an opponent of the calibre of Sugar Ray Robinson.
I suppose that many hon. Members have attended boxing contests—both amateur and professional—and, as a result of their experience, have discovered that there is not much difference—in both attack and defence—between amateur and professional contests. The scientific displays which are often evident in those boxing contests are worth encouraging.
Let us see what we are asking the Chancellor to do. I shall not repeat what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner). If the Chancellor is disinclined to make a concession this year it will not entirely destroy professional boxing, but it will harm professional boxing. It will make it very difficult for the small promoters to carry on, and I can see no reason why the small promoters should be at a greater disadvantage than the promoters at a higher level. There is no reason why we should support one section as against the other.
If, on the other hand, the Chancellor and other hon. Members want to destroy professional boxing entirely, let them say so. I do not believe that that is the view of the majority. While I do not suggest that to refuse a concession of any sort would destroy professional boxing, it would do considerable damage. The amount involved is infinitesimal as compared to the sums which the Chancellor seeks to raise by means of taxation, and I think a concession is called for. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West said, it is estimated that the amount of money which would be obtained by continuing the tax on its present scale would be about £60,000 in a full year. It may be some thousands of pounds more, but it is certainly within the £100,000 limit. In those circumstances, it is not unfair to ask the Chancellor to consider some concession, however moderate. I remind the Chancellor that last year he raised the duty. I am not quite sure why.
I am obliged to the Chancellor. It is true that I have not been attending the whole of the debates. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman had some valid reason for raising the duty, but apparently it did not bring in a great deal of revenue, and certainly not as much as he estimated. I doubt whether his estimate will be fulfilled at the end of this financial year.
In those circumstances, since the Financial Secretary asked for some suggestion in this matter, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman might make the concession of returning to the duty level of last year. That would afford some measure of relief. I do not propose to go further into this question—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—unless hon. Members provoke me into doing so, and if they do, I have no objection to continuing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come off it."] I cannot understand why so many hon. Members, after devoting so much time in repetitive speeches on the subject of football duty, object to an hour being spent on discussing the taxation of boxing. It proves conclusively what I have said— that they regard sport as something which suits their own purpose. When it comes to something in which they are not interested, they regard it no longer as a sport. That is remarkable, coming from some hon. Members who regard themselves as tolerant in controversies of this kind. I am shocked at the attitude of some hon. Members.
I have no interest in this question; there are no boxing promoters in my constituency, although there is a good deal of amateur boxing. The National Coal Board conduct amateur boxing on a very large scale. Nothing encourages athletic pursuits in young men better than boxing and nothing fits them better for their daily task, because of the intensive training and discipline involved. Although I have no interest in the subject, I happen to know something about it. I have had the experience myself. I sought very hard, when I was young, to be properly attacked in one part of my anatomy because I thought it might improve my appearance.
On the other hand, in my experience, either by participation or by witnessing boxing contests, I have never found that there was anything really brutalising about it. Do not forget that only a few weeks ago Derek Dooley, a footballer in this country, in a game which is not supposed to be brutalised, had his leg broken, and, moreover, men have been killed in football matches. As for Rugby League, I have seen more brutalisation on the football field than ever I saw in the boxing ring. These comments might not suit some hon. Members, but, nevertheless, I stand up for professional and amateur boxing. I ask the Chancellor to encourage it, and to encourage it in spite of the alleged and, I say, pseudo pacifism of some hon. Members.
I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman but to consider the Amendment solely from the point of view of revenue, which is, of course, with what we are concerned at the moment. I want to argue that if the Chancellor can see his way to make at any rate some concession in response to the appeal of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) then it is highly likely that, far from losing revenue, he will gain revenue; certainly over a number of years he will gain revenue rather than lose it.
What is the principle of the Bill in this respect? We have rejected the principle that it is necessary to treat all sports alike. Some hon. Members wish to do that, but the Committee has decided that that shall not be the principle of this Bill. The principle of this Bill is that we shall make special concessions to sports on two grounds; on the one ground if the amount of money involved is not large, and on the other ground if the sport is threatened with being driven out of existence if a concession cannot be made. As the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) and other hon. Members have shown, on those two grounds boxing very well qualifies for a concession.
What has been the result of raising the duty? The result of raising the duty in general has been admittedly that there was a gain made over the last 12 months, rising from £48,000 to £61,000 total revenue. On the other hand, if we look at the revenue coming in from small tournaments we find that, in spite of the increased duty, the total revenue has fallen from £23,000 to £20,000 because, of course, the number of small tournaments has decreased. As my hon. and gallant Friend has shown—and I need not take the Committee through the argument again—during a temporary condition in which large tournaments can go on while small tournaments are being driven out of existence, for a year or two the Chancellor makes more money out of the large tournaments, but in a few years the small tournaments and the large will go out of existence, so that the Chancellor will lose money. So I hope he will listen to the plea which my hon. and gallant Friend and others have made to him.
If I am to judge by the roars from the Government benches, I shall have to face the Government benches singlehanded tonight. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I said the Government benches, but, indeed, judging from a certain contribution to the debate from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) I may have to expect a few punches on my flank, too. However, I am undeterred. I do not come to this Box as a weak and feeble woman who is horrified at the sight of men punching each other. Furthermore, I do not come to this Box as somebody who is untrained in looking upon blood and injury. Therefore, I hope nobody will think that my approach to this subject is an emotional one. My approach is based on rational grounds.
First of all, I must disagree with those who contend that professional boxing, which is virtually prize fighting, is a sport. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West emphasised the whole time that the Chancellor must be kind to this important sport. Let us examine that contention. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport), who moved the Amendment, dealt solely with the profits of the promoters. Not for one moment did he mention sportsmanship. Not for one moment did he think apparently in terms of the high standards of British sport.
There will be plenty of time for the hon. Member to make his contribution.
I did interject once in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech to say "Hooray" when he told me that the participants in the ring now had to fight only six times a year, that they now had to suffer some injury only six times a year instead of 30 times a year as they did in his youth. The sole object of the promoters is to make money out of this entertainment. [Laughter.] It is all very well to laugh, but hon. Gentlemen opposite know that what I am saying is perfectly true. The promoters are concerned only with profit. After the speech of the hon. and gallant Member I scarcely need to speak, because he failed to deal with any sporting aspect. He used some extraordinary expressions about fighters, and said that the right thing to do was to get in quickly and to knock the opponent bow-legged, I think he said. Here we have the truth, I will not say from babes and sucklings, but at any rate we realise the hon. and gallant Gentleman's approach. We know—
The hon. and gallant Gentleman agrees, and I am glad the Chancellor is here, because it might help him not to change his mind about this. This is supposed to be a sport. The promoter makes the money and the whole object of the fighter is to render his opponent unconscious by the right kind of blow directed to the point of the jaw. Is that so?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman agrees, but I believe he wonders why. I will tell him why. I did not have the training in the ring he may have had, but I do know that the blow is directed to the point of the jaw because the injury to the brain is greater than if. it is directed to any other point of the skull. The chances of rendering an individual unconscious are much greater if the blow is delivered at that vulnerable point. The object of the participant is to render his opponent unconscious, for which he will receive a monetary award. And they call this a sport.
For my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) to compare boxing with Rugby is nonsense, and for this reason. In Rugby the motive is not to render the opponent unconscious. [Interruption.] I am willing to agree that occasionally players are rendered unconscious, but that is not the primary motive. Incidentally, if a man succeeds in doing that at Rugby, he does not get a monetary reward. The difference is that in boxing the individual who is successful is rewarded financially.
The hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford and, I am very sorry to say, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West, went into the business details. The business side—and here again I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will laugh at this, but it is a fact—is conducted in a kind of boxing underworld with which most hon. Members would be ashamed to be associated. I ask the Chancellor: Does all this accord with British sportsmanship? While I have profound sympathy with the relatives of the boys who are killed in the ring and with those poor creatures whose brains are permanently damaged in consequence of repeated blows to the skull, I am even more concerned with the effect on the audience.
The commentators of the B.B.C. and, unfortunately, television are bringing this sordid entertainment right into the living homes of the people. The commentaries on these fights and the pictures in the newspapers illustrate my point. When a commentator finds it necessary to describe in detail the amount of blood which has been drawn and the ferocity and accuracy of the blows to the heart and the brain, it is clear that the object is to appeal to the sadistic impulses. I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington that the sadistic impulses are the lowest and crudest passions in man. The primitive yells of the crowd— and I am rather reminded of them tonight—who watch these exhibitions are evidence of what I say. What I want to emphasise to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I believe that tonight all decent-minded men here are with me—
Perhaps I ought not to take any exception to being called sadistic, perhaps I ought not to take any exception to being told that I ought to be ashamed of myself and the company I keep, but I do take exception to being told that I am excluded from the category of decent men.
I had no idea that my right hon. Friend was so sensitive.
I want to emphasise the point tonight —and I think that I am creating a precedent because I do not believe that in the history of the House any individual has appeared at this Dispatch Box making this particular plea—that this is not a sport which tends to develop the highest qualities in man, but a sordid entertainment which degrades both the active participants and the audience. For this reason I ask the Chancellor not to reduce the tax but to discriminate against prize fighting just as he has discriminated in favour of that fine sport cricket, but with this difference—I should like him to increase the tax on boxing and if he cannot do so this year, seriously to consider increasing it next year.
It is quite clear, as we have heard tonight, that the promoters of this low form of entertainment are becoming a little apprehensive. Pressure groups have been formed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer talked about an "obscene" pressure group. Perhaps I might use the same expression. Nothing could be more obscene than to form a pressure group outside the House to press for this kind of crude and debasing entertainment. These people are getting apprehensive because their profits are decreasing and because they see the improved education of the masses.
It is possible for a high-minded Chancellor to exercise a very considerable power in society by taxing out of existence certain institutions and entertainments which offend against public morality and are harmful physically and mentally. I ask him to use his power by retaining this tax and giving serious thought to increasing it considerably next year.
I have no intention at all of attacking the speech just made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ful-ham, West (Dr. Summerskill), because she just does not understand the subject at all. I do not know exactly what her son thinks about it, but I believe that he is concerned about boxing in the university to which he is attached.
I did not say that; I said I wondered what he thought about it.
I do not intend to follow my right hon. Friend. I want to speak for the boxers themselves. I happen to be the Honorary Vice-President of the Professional Boxers' Association and I have been nominated as its next Honorary President. It is a trade union. There are in the country about 3,500 professional boxers, and about 80 per cent. of them, including Randolph Turpin and others who have played a very big part in boxing recently, belong to the organisation. It has been able, as trade unions usually are, to make suggestions to the British Boxing Board of Control for improving this very ancient sport. The sport needed improving and it still needs improving.
Not one of the 3,500 professional boxers has been dragged into the ring. [HON. MEMBERS: "Out."] Some of them may be dragged out again, but they accept the sport and join in it voluntarily. It is a very good thing that everybody is not forced to follow a certain sport or a certain craft that somebody else wants them to. When I have the choice between listening to the weird and wonderful noises which come from symphony orchestras and attending a boxing tournament, my choice is always the boxing tournament. It is quite possible that my right hon. Friend would rather have the peculiar, weird noises that come from the symphony concerts. It is a good job that we have different points of view. That is how we remain a democratic country, because we have been able to express our opinions and to take part in, or watch, whichever sport we choose.
Boxers are very concerned about the number of provincial boxing tournaments or promotions that have been stopped because of the effect of the increase in tax. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West wants boxing taxed out of existence, we are talking on different terms altogether. If that was the position, it would be a question of discussing the rights or wrongs of boxing— but we are not doing that. Boxing is accepted by a very large proportion of the public as a sport, and they like to see it. They like to see the contests and the skill that is attached to it.
Boxing starts in the school. I am one of those who believe that if in every small area, and attached to every school, there was a gymnasium where young children could be taught decently to defend themselves, to become sportsmen, we would have far less of the juvenile delinquency that we have at present. Young boys can be trained, and they all want to become boxers. Whenever a boxing gymnasium is put up in a school, there are always very many more who wish to use it than are able to take advantage of it.
When young boys are taught to have the sportsmanlike outlook and to be able to control their feelings—because they have to do that as a discipline—it is very much better than the sort of thing that we get with juvenile delinquency— bringing the young people into the courts to be dealt with. Starting from that point of view, they enter the amateur ranks. They have a pride in being able scientifically to beat the other man at boxing.
If sport and boxing is to stop at the amateur stage, why not say so? The game could then adjust itself to the question of how it will fit in amateur sport. But that is not what the Chancellor is saying. He does not say that he wants to dispense with boxing altogether. If he were to say that, remember that this Bill goes to another place. We all know that the great call when a boxing booth opens is usually, "My Lords, ladies and gentlemen." If the Chancellor says that he wants to dispense with boxing altogether, "My Lords" might have something to say about it when the Bill reaches another place. But I do not believe that the Chancellor wants to do that. He told me in the last Budget debate that he would watch the position very carefully.
A few weeks ago I asked the Chancellor two Questions. I asked whether he knew of the difficulties of a boxing promotion in my constituency, where I have perhaps one of the best known provincial boxing promoters in the country —Johnny Best, who is known to have given opportunities to boys who might not have had them from anyone else. Through the Liverpool Stadium promotions have come Ernie Roderick. Nel Tarleton, Peter Kane and very many of those who have reached the big promotions in the London, Newcastle or South Wales areas. Liverpool Stadium, which is in my constituency, puts on a boxing show every Thursday night. It was one of the places whose spirit kept the morale of the people of Liverpool very high-during the bombing and the years of the war. Irrespective of what the position was, a boxing promotion went on every Thursday night during those very difficult years.
When the new tax was imposed I asked the Chancellor whether he was aware of certain figures which I quoted in a Question. He gave a silly answer about Purchase Tax having been taken off equipment. That did not meet the case at all. The position is that on 28 promotions in the Liverpool Stadium since the new tax came into operation the Stadium has incurred a loss of £2,804. Nobody will continuously run any sport at a loss.
If a boxing promotion is to be accepted as a sport according to the rules of the British Boxing Board of Control certain regulations have to be complied with. The promoter must be licensed, every one of his boxers must be licensed and a decent bill must be prepared or people will not attend the promotion. No promoter, no private enterprise person, will run a business at such a loss as I have mentioned.
The places where these events take place, whether the promotions be large or small, pay rates to the local authority, and Liverpool Stadium is no exception. We are in danger, in Liverpool, of losing these promotions altogether. I know that I am speaking for my constituents and for lovers of boxing in Liverpool when I say that they will be very savage with the Chancellor if their weekly stadium promotion on Thursday night is closed down because taxation has made it impossible for boxing shows to be promoted.
I also asked the Chancellor whether he would be prepared to reproduce in HANSARD the admirable case and figures which were submitted to him when a deputation from the British Boxing Board of Control waited upon him. A large number of figures were given and an excellent report was prepared. I have that report; I do not want to weary the Committee with it, but I should like to recapitulate the position. Before I do that, I would say the figures show that since the new tax there has been a bigger aggregate amount paid in Entertainments Duty, but that has been only through the big promotions.
Unless the provincial promotions are able to continue the big promotions will also cease altogether, because it is through the eliminating contests and through the provincial contests that the big bills and the championship fights are arranged at the bigger promotions. Therefore, while the amount is bigger at the moment, the Chancellor is in danger, through the number of provincial boxing promotions either closing down or going over to charity shows on which no Entertainments Duty is paid, of losing the biggest part of his Entertainments Duty revenue from boxing.
Let me give the aggregate figures for the six months from October, 1952, to March, 1953. The figures for the tournaments where takings exceeded £2,500 was £191,926 in 1951. For the same period in 1952 the figure was £189,838—a reduction in the takings of the large promoters. The Entertainments Duty paid in this period was £25,080 in 1951 and it was £40,630 in 1952. A higher amount was paid from a lower income. For the promotions in smaller premises where takings were under £2,500, for the same period the figure was £180,728 in 1951 and £106,312 in 1952. There was a big reduction in takings. The Entertainments Duty was £23,057 in 1951 and £19,675 in 1952. That showed a decrease. In March, 1953, there was a reduction of 56 per cent. in the number of promotions as compared with the previous year. The Chancellor said last year that he would watch figures carefully and that if he discovered that there was a difficulty he would reconsider the matter.
The British Boxing Board of Control and the promoters do not want the duty to be removed completely, as the football promoters do. They say that in view of the figures which they have produced to the Chancellor and the fact that they will continue to drop, they would appreciate it if the amount of duty could go back to the figure before the increase. I put that point to the Chancellor. If he intends that professional boxing promotions shall continue, if he is concerned about the 3,500 boxers who are registered and hold licences and who voluntarily want to continue the sport, will he consider reducing the duty to the original level?
Boxing is not only national: it is international. One of the things we need today is something to promote decent international relationship. Sport is an activity which promotes good international relationship. I should like to paraphrase one of the present-day writers of gangster stories, Earle Stanley Gardiner. Sometimes one discovers in people who write this type of book more words of wisdom than we hear in Parliaments. He says that before very long ordinary people will be able to be transported very quickly by air for many thousands of miles. He says that Governments do not make friendships, but that people individually do.
One of the best ways in which to promote decent individual international relationships, which might have a very big effect upon the general feelings of people throughout the world, is to keep those sports which people of different standards and different ways of life enjoy as free from taxation as possible. We should not tax them out of existence, but should give to those who desire to watch these sports and to those who desire to take part in them the opportunity of putting into operation those personal desires of which they think most.
I rather hesitate to intervene, or indeed intrude, in this extremely enjoyable debate, in which we have had a most remarkable mixture of contributions from the other side of the Committee. I certainly do not propose to follow the example of either the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell) or the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) by giving at considerable length my views on the merits of this sport, but if I were tempted to do so I should find myself much more in Easington Street than in the Fulham Road.
We are concerned with the question raised so clearly by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) in moving the Amendment, when I thought he fully lived up to his own direction to "knock 'em bow-legged in the first round." The Amendment would have the effect of giving to professional boxing the freedom from duty which will in any event, under the proposals of my right hon. Friend, be given to amateur boxing. The fact that my right hon. Friend is freeing amateur boxing, as other amateur forms of sport, I think confirms that.
I have personally the highest regard for this most admirable sport, and would not like to seem to accept some of the suggestions which have been made against it. The practical and much more limited issue is whether a case has been made for giving to the professional side of this sport a complete exemption from Entertainments Duty. There are various aspects of this which I do not think I need recapitulate, because we have been discussing Entertainments Duty on sport for some considerable time in the last couple of days. I suggest to the Committee that no case has been made, particularly, perhaps, in view of the decision of the Committee on the previous Amendment, for exempting entirely from Entertainments Duty the professional side of this sport.
This Amendment does ask for it and it is this Amendment to which I must address myself. Other people have made other requests at other times, but the hon. Lady must allow me to deal with the Amendment before the Committee, and that is what it proposes.
To take the extreme case, it proposes, in the case of a big championship, that a 10-guinea ring-side seat should be completely tax-free. In view of the decision of the Committee, which has been taken on previous Amendments in respect of other forms of sport, I do not think it is really reasonable to suggest that in cases like that the Entertainments Duty should be wholly waived. For that reason, if for no other, it would be necessary to suggest to the Committee that they should reject the Amendment, but in deference to some of the arguments used I should like to say a little more about it.
There is a certain revenue interest in this matter—actually, a rather larger one than the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) seemed to think. The amount of revenue at issue is somewhere between £100,000 and £150,000 and, although it is not a vast figure, it is appreciably larger than the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West suggested.
Will the hon. Gentleman say how he bases that figure? Is it true that in the six months of the last season the amount was £60,000; and if that is so, how does he calculate he is likely to get a further £40,000?
That is a calculation made by people with great knowledge not only of the past but of the prospective future of this sport, and I give it to the Committee as the best possible estimate that can be given. However, I do not base the case entirely on the revenue aspect. I merely mention it because in discussing these things the Committee want to know what the cost to the Exchequer would be.
The real point on which hon. Members have shown considerable and very understandable concern is the condition of the sport, and I say that even in the presence of the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West. I do not think that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West was using reasonable language when he referred to the likelihood of the sport becoming extinct. In point of fact, so far as the larger promotions are concerned, although it is perfectly accurate to say, as my hon. and gallant Friend did, that the number of promotions has declined since the increase of duty, actually the total of takings has hardly varied at all. The variation is only 1 per cent. Therefore, it is very misleading to base one's argument on the number of promotions without taking into account the size of them and the attendances which they have commanded.
As to the smaller promotions, there has been some reduction, as the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) quite fairly said, and I would not say that those concerned in this sport are altogether wrong in entertaining apprehensions about it. I would however, remind the Committee of a point which has already been made on a previous Amendment, that it really is quite unsound to argue that because attendance at a particular sport has declined that must be due to the level of a tax, and that the remedial process is the elimination of that tax. As I pointed out to the Committee on the previous Amendment, in the case of sports which have gained reductions in duty through my right hon. Friend's proposals, attendances have also declined, and therefore it is oversimplification of the problem to suggest that, because attendances may have declined, it is necessary to reduce the duty.
I have had the privilege of meeting the British Boxing Board of Control and discussing these matters with them and with one or two hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who are interested in this matter, and I can assure the Committee that it is certainly not the intention of my right hon. Friend to destroy the sport. If I hesitate to use exactly the same language as that used on the previous Amendment lest it calls for some Wykehamical censure on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), I can assure the Committee that my right hon. Friend certainly entertains none of the hostility to this sport which appears to exist in other quarters of the Committee.
I hope, therefore, that my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate, both from what I have said and what my right hon. Friend has done in the specific fields of these proposals, including in particular the very welcome easement on amateur boxing, which is part and parcel of these proposals, that we are certainly anxious to watch carefully the progress of this sport, and that, while we do not accept the exceedingly gloomy prognostications that have been offered in this debate and outside, we do appreciate the anxiety of those concerned and we would certainly not wish to do this sport any injury.
I am sorry, Sir Charles, but with the noise that is going on I did not hear you.
I wish to make two points to the Chancellor. I do not think he was here when my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) was making her speech, but if he and the Financial Secretary are not impressed with the arguments employed so far, would they listen to this short one relating to that speech which, in my view, was entirely undesirable for two reasons?
The first point is that I think the right hon. Lady used a certain amount of medical evidence, every bit of which could have been applied to other sports, including Rugby. Secondly, and this is a point I feel very strongly about, I think we all feel proud of the history of sport in this country and its general effect on manners. The speech of the right hon. Lady was a perfect piece of evidence of the rather sinister influence in our life at the present time which appears to idealise effeminacy in men and masculinity in women.
There was one point in the speech of the Financial Secretary to which I think we may attach importance; that is where he said that for the moment he asked the Committee to negative this Amendment. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that last year the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) and other hon. Members raised the whole question of amateur sport. The matter was considered, and considered very sympathetically, by the Chancellor during that time. I think there are many of us who have reason to believe, or at any rate to hope, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, during the coming year, give special attention to the sport of boxing.
I speak with a certain amount of experience, which I share with the hon. Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport), in saying "No" to the two issues which the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) has advanced to the Committee. She maintains, in the first place, that nothing can be sport if it is professional. I would like her to take that view to Stamford Bridge and see whether anyone there would say that there is a debasing of the sport for that reason. She said that it cannot be sport, because it is not sport to do that sort of thing, or to take that sort of risk. I think the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) was right when she said the right hon. Lady really did not know what she was talking about. One has to go back to one's youth to realise that the desire to "have ago" and take a risk is something fundamental to the development of youth. A man does not, in fact, go into the ring to be hauled out or to have someone else hauled out. He goes in to take part in a sport.
I hope that the Committee will agree with the Financial Secretary and give him time to think this over and arrange it, as he did in the previous 12 months for the question of amateur sport. There cannot be many of these professional sports. Curling, water polo and those things do not have a substantial professional section, if any. I can think only of lawn tennis, real tennis, squash racquets and I think the Committee can assure the Financial Secretary that in all these cases the professional element has a tremendously important part to play in raising the standard and increasing the enjoyment and benefit of the sport for everyone else. I hope that we may now withdraw this Amendment and not divide.
I think the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) was unfair when he used the language he did to my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill). [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak up."] I deplore the language that he used to my right hon. Friend, although it may well be that she overstated the case. I think that under certain conditions boxing is a manly decent sport, and I am very glad indeed that the Chancellor has used one Clause of the Bill to give amateur boxing a new lease of life. I also think that the Financial Secretary was right when he said he would not use the financial weapon to put paid to professional boxing.
I wish my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) were here. For him to suggest that professional boxing is something clean and noble which can be put in the same category as cricket or football reveals that my right hon. Friend knows nothing about the game at all. Certainly, my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield knows little about it when he says that the same kind of injuries can be inflicted in other sports as can be inflicted in boxing.
Well, that is a piece of absolute nonsense.
The hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) gave examples of some boxers whose names are honoured in the annals of British boxing. One of them I knew; one of the great figures of boxing. Where did he end his days? As a shuffling lump of humanity, punch drunk, unable to co-ordinate his movements, his eyes damaged, hawking luggage outside Brighton Station. In this so-called sport there was another example the other day, when Tommy Farr, a man of over 40, was put in the ring to become a chopping block in order to put money into a professional boxing promoter's pocket.
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that, of course we realise that sort of thing happened in the old days, but now the British Boxing Board of Control regard it as a thing we want to stop. Why try to knock one of the finest sports in the world like that?
It is an extraordinary thing, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman has answered his own argument. He deplores the small number of fights young professional boxers are having in a given year, but it is the number of fights following quickly one on top of another that cause a man to become punch drunk. The safeguards which are present in amateur boxing are completely lacking in professional boxing. My experience goes back a long way before that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. When I was a young soldier I used to go with one or two other chaps, one of whom became a champion, to the Ring and to other boxing arenas, on Sunday mornings. In the old days the aspiring champion could get a jolly good hiding for 10s. If he was good and the crowd liked him he would get promoted to the £2 for a win class, provided he was prepared to take a "dive" when he was told. That was how professional boxing was ran. "Taking a dive" was the common parlance of the boxing game and certainly a recognised part of the procedure. Any hon. Gentleman who claims that professional boxing is a sport is abusing the English language.
I suggest, with great respect, that the Chancellor is quite right not to use the great power placed in his hands to do more than to raise revenue or keep the wheels of industry and the economy going. He ought not to use the fiscal weapon to force moral judgments on OUT citizens for by so doing he would be using taxation to alter the social scene. As was said by the Financial Secretary, it would be wrong to believe that the incidence of taxation is the sole cause for the decline in the income of this so-called sport. The facts are the British public have become aware of what has been on, and they are not prepared to pay high prices for fights that they know are fixed. There is another factor. Owing to the fact that they can now get jobs young men are not prepared to go into the ring and just become chopping blocks when they can see for themselves what has happened to the great figures of the boxing world of bygone generations.
I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West overstated her case when she attacked boxing in the very stupid way she did. At the same time, I believe that her medical evidence is absolutely sound. I challenge other hon. Members who are doctors to deny that the inevitable result to many young men if they had 10 or a dozen fights in two or three months would be an early death, or blindness or their becoming shuffling lumps of punch-drunk humanity.
We have had a long debate and I was hoping that the Committee was ready to come to a decision. If not, I am in the hands of the Committee, but we have had a long debate and all points of view have been put.
I shall not detain the Committee long. I could not appeal for a reduction in the taxation which is imposed upon boxing matches because I do not consider that it is doing the harm to promotions which has been stated. At the same time I agree with 90 per cent. of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) said.
Let me make a confession. I used frequently to go to boxing matches, and every time I came out I felt most uncomfortable. In the end I reasoned myself away from them because I felt I could no longer support something which was not a sport but purely massacre of the innocents. In that respect, I cannot support the plea which has been made tonight.
I have seen many victims of boxing. In Glasgow there are men who have been the victims of the boxing promoters. A large number of young men go around the boxing booths and are used as "stooges" or chopping blocks to test the ability and the ferocity of those engaged in the promotions. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the boxing ring promotes the worst instincts in the human race. Women shout "Kill him, kill him!" when a man has been driven round the ring and the blood is flowing from him.
It reminds me of the time when I was in Spain, in the bull ring. [Laughter.] Not in the bull ring, of course, but watching bull fights. A former French consul told me that when Manoletto, the famous Spanish bull-fighter, had been gored to death, he turned in his dying moments, pointed to the bull and said, "That is not the beast" and added, "that is the beast," indicating the crowd, who were demanding the continuation of the fight and the kill.
The Chancellor would be misusing his power if he attempted to legislate the boxing promoters out of business. I wish I could see the time when the public would find the sadism abhorrent and would refuse to witness what goes on in the ring. I remember joining the Navy when I was 17, and being engaged at Chatham in a fight with a comrade. We were asked to go into the ring for eight rounds. I knocked out my opponent and sat up half the night trying to revive him. I can only say that as an individual I went frequently to boxing rings in Belfast, Australia, and in this country; but, as time went on, I reasoned with myself to the extent that this was a brutality which no human being in his right senses should encourage.
I should tell the Committee that it had been the intention of the Government to make a good deal of progress with the Purchase Tax provisions of the Bill; but I do not wish that we should sit unduly late. We have had three debates on the question of sport and, if I may say so, there has been a good deal of overlapping of argument. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have made their case for boxing, and the Government have replied. We have still to obtain Clause 6, and I should like to get the next Clause, making a start then on Purchase Tax; although not engaging in discussion on the major issues, which we will leave until after the holiday. If we are to rise at a reasonably early hour, I do appeal to the Committee to bring the debate to a conclusion.
I should like to associate myself with the Chancellor's remarks. It may be a little unusual, but he, and the Financial Secretary have been very patient throughout the long debate on football, and we have certainly had a reasonable amount of discussion on this other point. I understood that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment was proposing to withdraw it, and unless his hon. Friends, or hon. Members on this side of the Committee wish to oppose that withdrawal, I see no great gain in continuing the debate and ask them to accept the Chancellor's request.