Pool Betting Duty

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy , Liverpool Broadgreen 4:20 pm, 3rd April 1995

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. Indeed, if pools companies develop their marketing and new products, that will have an even greater impact on the sales of small lotteries run by charities. That emphasises the need for the Government to keep the matter under review.

We are witnessing the determination and resilience of pools companies, as demonstrated by the development of new products. I wish to mention one or two aspects of the way in which their determination to succeed despite problems presented to them by the national lottery has been demonstrated recently.

Before I do so, I should deal with marketing, which the pools companies are desperately eager to get on with. It is estimated that the national lottery's television advertising campaign has cost between £30 million and £50 million in its first year. No pools company is in a position to compete with such expenditure on television marketing, although the ability to do so is very much welcomed.

I understand that Littlewoods is considering following Zetters in reverting to an older system of scoring. That will result in smaller prizes overall, but more winners. I understand that Zetters' sales have increased as a result. Perhaps the national lottery will get the message and learn a lesson from that method.

As I understand it, the reduction in pools betting duty will have an impact on the Football Trust. Since Littlewoods has given notice that it is to reduce its contribution from spot-the-ball by 6 per cent., following the dramatic decline in sales of the game, what does the Paymaster General estimate the impact will be on the Football Trust?

Vernons pools stated its intention to withdraw its 5p contribution to the Foundation for Sport and the Arts from every coupon sold, but I understand from the Paymaster General's opening that it is to continue that commitment. That is very welcome as many small organisations in my constituency have benefited directly from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, but it means that the 5 per cent. reduction in pools betting duty is effectively 2.7 per cent, with the consequential overall cost benefits of that lower figure.

I recognise that the Government's intention is good and I welcome the new clause and the improvement that it makes in allowing pool companies to compete, but if the companies continue to support other organisations they will not benefit from the whole 5 per cent. reduction in betting duty. Clearly, the pools companies were saying that they needed a reduction of 5 per cent. to be able to compete more fairly. I ask the Paymaster General to take that point on board in conducting the overall review of the impact of the national lottery on businesses that are so important to the constituents whom I represent.