I, too, rise to support the Bill, although not necessarily for the reasons it was introduced. The Government introduced the Bill—if we believe what they say—for the purposes of regulation, but it seems to me that for the purposes of regulation it is completely unnecessary. In fact, it will probably make the regulatory system worse, because although virtually every gambling operator used by UK consumers is currently properly regulated, either here or in other places such as Gibraltar, the chances are—the Treasury’s own forecasts show this—that as a result of the Bill around 20% of betting will take place with unlicensed and unregulated operators. As far as the regulation of gambling is concerned, the Bill represents a step backwards, rather than a step forwards.
However, I support the Bill for the real reason behind it, which the Government dare not say: it will allow them to tax gambling companies currently based in places such as Gibraltar and allow people in the UK who place bets with those companies to be subject to taxation. I think that is a perfectly legitimate thing for the Government to do, but I understand that for legal reasons within the EU they do not want to say it. I am pretty certain that is the reason for the Bill, and on that basis I support it.
I have one question for the Minister, which I hope she can answer. She will be relieved to know that it is not about sport. I was tempted to ask her the name of this year’s winner of the grand national—a clue is that it was trained in my constituency—but I will resist that temptation. Will she give me a guarantee that the Bill will not lead to any empire building by the Gambling Commission, which could claim that it needs ever more resources, ever more money and ever bigger fees to do the regulation that will be expected of it as a result of the Bill? The Culture, Media and Sport Committee was keen to get assurances on that during our pre-legislative scrutiny. I hope that she will make it clear to the Gambling Commission that the Bill cannot be used as an excuse.