Horserace Betting Levy

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 5th September 2013.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 9:30 am, 5th September 2013

What progress she has made on replacing the horserace betting levy as a means of funding horse racing; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

I agreed to extend the time scale for discussions between racing and the bookmakers on a long-term deal to 31 October, as a voluntary agreement is far preferable to Government intervention. I strongly encourage both sides to agree a deal that includes a contribution to cover the offshore business. I am also looking closely at the details of the recent EU

Commission state aid ruling on a levy for online gambling in France and will consider the implications for any read-across to our own process.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

I thank the Minister for that response. He will be aware that discussions on how to replace or improve the levy have been going on for a long time and that racing continues to be underfunded. Does he agree that, although there is the 31 October deadline for the levy negotiation, it is important that racing and betting come to a more commercial agreement? Will he continue to work with both parties to bring about such an agreement?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Certainly. Given the importance of both the racing and betting sides to the industry, it remains a matter of some despair to me—I think that this view has been shared by successive Governments—that in this day and age the two sides cannot get together and conclude a voluntary agreement. It absolutely should be commercial, and I hope that any agreement reached by the end of October will be for a long-term settlement to give the industry the stability it needs.