Clause 16 - Rates of gaming duty

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 6th May 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

Simply put, the clause increases the duty bands for gaming duty in line with inflation, ensuring that their value is maintained. It is a measure

that continues the practice of the last six Budgets. It is supported by the casino industry and is designed to prevent a tax increase being caused by the erosion in the value of duty bands by inflation. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Richard Bacon Richard Bacon Conservative, South Norfolk

The table in clause 16 will replace the table in section 11(2) in the Finance Act 1997. The figures in the bands in table of the 1997 Act amount to a total of £5.4 million, and anything over that is taxed at 33.3 per cent. The amounts stated in the table in the clause add up to £4.817 million, and anything above that level is taxed at 40 per cent. I would like the Economic Secretary to clarify for the record the fact that, in comparison with the 1997 Act, the clause sets out a higher rate of tax.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde 3:34 pm, 6th May 2004

When the Economic Secretary replies, I would be grateful if he confirmed the measure of inflation that is used for the process of revalorisation.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming—

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 3:50 pm, 6th May 2004

Let me respond to the two points made respectively by the hon. Member for South Norfolk and the right hon. Member for Fylde.

The hon. Member for South Norfolk asked me to confirm that the clause makes no tax increase.

Photo of Richard Bacon Richard Bacon Conservative, South Norfolk

I am sorry to intervene so soon, but I did not ask the Economic Secretary to confirm that there was no tax increase. I asked him to confirm that the clause makes a tax increase when compared with the Finance Act 1997.

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

If the hon. Gentleman will be a little patient, I shall answer his question. I had not even finished summarising the proposition that he put to me.

The 1997 Act was the first point at which the bands were set out in their present form. There was an increase in duties in 1998, but there is no change in the rates this year; instead there is a revalorisation of the bands to which those rates relate. I hope that that answers whatever question the hon. Gentleman thought he had asked.

I turn to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Fylde. The measure of inflation was the retail prices index. The figure for inflation was 2.8 per cent. That was the rate in December 2003, a figure taken by convention under an agreement with the industry that has been in place for five or six years.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde

A number of measures of inflation are used by the Government for different purposes. The Economic Secretary will be aware that if the new measure of inflation had been applied, by definition it would have been a lower percentage increase. Was that option offered to the industry? By the Minister's own admission, the current regime has been achieved not by statute but by agreement.

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

No. For consistency and comprehensibility, we have used the same measure of inflation that we have used in past years. We chose not to use the new measure that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, which is used principally by the Bank of England in deciding monetary policy.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.