To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce the determination under section 1 of the Horserace Betting Levy Act 1969 of the horserace betting levy scheme beginning 1 April.
I have today sent the following letter to the Chairman of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and written similarly to the chairman of the Bookmakers' Committee. A copy of the scheme has been placed in the Library of the House. The letter reads:
In your letter of 1 November 1991 you reported to me that the Board and the Bookmakers' Committee had failed to agree the Scheme to have effect for the 31st levy period and that the Scheme accordingly fell to be determined by me. I have now reached my decision and enclose a copy of the Scheme which I have determined.
In reaching my decision, I have taken into account all the submissions made to me by the Government-appointed members of the Levy Board and by the Bookmakers' Committee, together with other submissions and representations, including from the Jockey Club and the Horseracing Advisory Council, on which the Board members and the Committee were afforded the opportunity to comment. I have also taken fully into account the reduction in General Betting Duty announced by the Chancellor today in his budget.
The cash yield from the Scheme will depend upon the level of leviable betting turnover in the 31st Levy period. Assuming turnover of £4,300 million, I have determined a scheme which aims to produce a total estimated levy yield of about £48 million.
This yield is higher than would have been the case if General Betting Duty had not been reduced, but in determining the Scheme I have only taken account of the reduction in duty on horseracing bets. In all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the bookmakers can make their levy payments under the Scheme without any increase in their deductions from punters.
As a result of the reduction in Betting Duty, it has been possible to achieve a substantial increase in the levy yield. I believe that this creates a new opportunity for bookmaking and racing to work more closely together for their mutual long-term benefit. In order to inform that process of closer co-operation, I will be inviting the Levy Board to consider ways in which improved value for money can be obtained from how the levy is spent and, separately, to advise on what steps racing might take to achieve a sound long-term basis for the improved level of levy contribution from bookmakers.
As part of that general process of closer co-operation, I hope that the two industries will explore further together the alternatives to the present scheme. The process of determining an annual levy scheme is not the vehicle for seeking changes to the basic principles of the levy. The levy was never intended to provide a price for product. Indeed, it is difficult to see how it could do so. But if racing and bookmaking can agree changes to the present arrangements, which were originally introduced with their joint agreement, I should certainly be prepared to consider their proposals. In the meantime, the levy must continue to be determined in the normal way and in accordance with the established criteria.