Increases in gaming duty were announced in the March Budget. These changes increase the top rate of duty and reduce the gross gaming yield threshold for each band, raising an additional £20 million in 1998–99 and £25 million in 1999–2000.
Is my hon. Friend aware that, after the Budget announcement on gaming duty, Mr. Alan Goodenough, chief executive of London Clubs International, informed his staff that their pay increases and promotion prospects were under threat, and asked them to write to their Members of Parliament to complain? Is she also aware that, as revealed by the Daily Mirroron 1 June, at the same time Mr. Goodenough was busy awarding himself a 110 per cent. pay increase, taking his earnings to £851,000, and awarding three other directors pay increases of 90 per cent. plus?
Does the Financial Secretary agree that that example of double standards in the casino industry reveals that it can well afford to pay the modest tax increases that she announced? Does she further agree that staff of London Clubs International would be best advised to say to their chief executive that what is good enough for him is good enough for them, and that the directors, instead of awarding themselves fat-cat pay increases, should look after the interests of their staff?
I am sure that those who heard my hon. Friend's words will draw their own conclusions about Mr. Goodenough's pay rise. The Government's decisions to increase gaming duty on casinos were based on the fact that the industry could afford to pay more tax, and there is no reason why it should not pay it.
Has it occurred to Treasury Ministers how closely they now resemble the croupiers in a casino themselves, as they have decided to bet on future movements of interest rates when deciding on their fiscal policies?
I have never been in a casino. The Government base their decisions on taxing that industry on the economic evidence that is available to them. It makes a very comfortable profit, and the tax is totally justified.