Clause 14 - General betting duty: overseas bet-brokers

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury) 9:45 am, 16th May 2002

That brings us back to the issue of light touch, and the skills of Customs and Excise in recognising who has been carrying material and who is involved in the industry. The essential question is whether someone could be prosecuted for carrying the advertisements, even if that person were coming into the UK. The answer is no; he cannot be. If the hon. Gentleman were to do that and were stopped by Customs and Excise, he would have to ring the office of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, which would immediately ensure that he was not prosecuted. He could not be prosecuted for carrying a paper or document carrying the advertisement. He would be guilty of an offence only if he distributed the advertisement or had brought it back with the express purpose of distributing it.

I know that the question of how that would be decided is a delicate issue, so I shall rest my case on the point that I made earlier about the anti-avoidance mechanism—the good judgment and persuasive powers of Customs and Excise to tell the difference and to educate people about the matter have worked until now. There is no reason to believe that they will not work in the future.