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Clause 4—(Pool Betting Duty: Provisions As To Isle Of Man)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

I do not intend to make a long oration on Clause 4. One reason for my not doing so is that I am not sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite are keen to follow an involved argument on this particular Clause at this time of the morning. I am not sure, either, that hon. Gentlemen are capable of understanding it. I do not understand it myself.

I am sure, however, that the Committee should not permit the Clause to go into the Bill without some explanation on what is its function. It is clearly something to do with football and the Isle of Man—but what is the precise connection between them I do not know. I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite are clear about it—and I am certain that the occupants of the Government Front Bench are not certain of its purpose. However, I will let them nominate their own spokesman. The one with the brief can tell us what it is all about. The Patronage Secretary seems to be giving the impression that he is well informed on the subject. We would welcome a statement from him on this or, indeed, on many other topics.

I have never known a Clause 4 go through without a certain amount of trouble, and, in these circumstances, perhaps the Solicitor-General, or one of has colleagues, would be prepared to tell us just what is the purpose of the Clause so that, at this hour of the morning, we may decide whether or not it should stand part of the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman made the only joke I have heard in connection with this Clause.

Section 2 of the Isle of Man Act, 1958, which is referred to in subsection (1) of this Clause, makes provision for sharing between the British and the Isle of Man Exchequers the receipts of certain duties imposed in both countries at equal rates.

This Clause extends these arrangements to Pool Betting Duties and provides that the joint proceeds of the British and Manx Pool Betting Duties should be shared between the two Exchequers. The Clause also provides that it will no longer be an offence for a promoter of pool betting in the Isle of Man to conduct his business in Great Britain.

The Clause embodies an agreement reached between the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom. I think it is, therefore, satisfactory to the Isle of Man and to ourselves, and I commend it to the Committee.

2.45 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman has not told us a lot more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us on Second Reading. All will recall the speed and verve with which the Chancellor took us through the various Clauses of the Bill. I should like to ask the Economic Secretary a final question. One understands that certain changes are projected in the Isle of Man in connection with various forms of money-making activities. Even casinos have been mentioned. Has the Clause anything to do with any of those projects, or is it a small-time piece of financial tidying-up related to the Pool Betting Duty as we know it?

Is it because of any expectation that there is to be a major new football pool in the Isle of Man? Is the hon. Gentleman or the Chancellor aware of any proposal that Vernon's or Littlewood's might be leaving my constituency and other constituencies in the Merseyside area and emigrating to the Isle of Man to avoid taxation? Is there anything sinister behind this, or is it simply a small piece of administrative tidying-up? If the hon. Gentleman will tell me at this time of morning that there is nothing sinister in it, I should be prepared to accept it, although I would not at any other time of the day. If the hon. Gentleman gives me that assurance, I am prepared to let it go at that.

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he wished to know the reasoning behind the Clause or the history of the matter, I could give it to him. I assure him, however, that there is nothing sinister behind the Clause. It is satisfactory to both parties and I commend it to the Committee.

The Economic Secretary referred to subsection (1), which states:

"where the promoter of the betting is in the Isle of Man and the bets are such as to be chargeable…"
It does not say anything about the bettor. Am I right in thinking that the bettor may be anywhere in the world but that as long as he sends his bets to the Isle of Man, the promoter is there and, therefore, there is exemption under the Bill?

No. The position is that under Section 5 of the Finance Act, 1952, which is referred to at the beginning of the Clause, various provisions are made for the protection of the Pool Betting Duty. One of those provisions concerns the operation in this country of promoters resident abroad. It was necessary to introduce this provision in 1952 simply to safeguard the revenue. The Clause is concerned only with the relationship between the Isle of Man Exchequer and the British Exchequer and, therefore, has no bearing on the law relating to pool promotion companies in other parts of the world.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

I beg to move,

That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
We are making such satisfactory progress that I am sorely tempted to continue. Nevertheless, I think that in all the circumstances it would be more appropriate that I move this Motion.

I was afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was being tempted by the speed of progress that we were making, but I assure him that had he tried to go on and get as far as Clause 5 he would have found the rate of progress markedly slowed up. [Interruption.] I could have spoken for four hours on Clause 5, and with much more temptation I shall do it on this Motion. I am not certain, however, that it would be of universal interest to all the hon. Members who have flocked in to hear me in the last couple of minutes.

We have made good progress today. To have got through all the Amendments on Clause 2 and the Motion on that Clause, as well as the next two rather minor Clauses, is fairly good progress and the right hon. and learned Gentleman should feel fairly satisfied with what has been achieved.

If he has any any dissatisfaction in his mind, if he is not satisfied with the rate of progress, I ask him to spend part of the Whitsun Recess—which I hope he will enjoy and will come back to the House in a more generous spirit with regard to some of the Amendments which he will have to consider—calculating the number of column inches spoken by his hon. Friends and by my hon. Friends on the first two days of this Finance Bill. While no one begrudges any of his hon. Friends making any speech he wants to make—many of the speeches were interesting and eloquent—he will find that any suggestion of undue holding up of the Bill by this side of the Committee would be an unfounded allegation, and that his hon. Friends have had, if anything, a disproportionate amount of the time so far spent on the Bill. I cannot promise that that proportion will be maintained throughout the discussions on the later Clauses in the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.