HC Deb 15 February 1938 vol 331 cc1702-4
50. Mr. Johnston

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to recent revelations in the Law Courts of the extraordinary exploitation involved in the football coupon gambling system; whether he is aware that the profits taken by the promoters, after all expenses are paid, amount to £2,000,000 per annum; and whether, in the public interest, he will consider the application of special taxation to these profits or adopt the Swedish system under which a statutory company conducts the monopoly on behalf of the State and provides the funds for the State physical fitness campaign out of the profits?

Sir J. Simon

My attention has been drawn to a series of articles in the Press with regard to the activities of these promoters. As regards the question of special taxation on the profits of these concerns, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply given by my predecessor to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, East (Mr. Hepworth) on 5th May, 1936. The suggestion of conferring a monopoly on a statutory company operating on behalf of the State raises wide general issues which cannot be determined solely by considerations of revenue and finance, and is not primarily a Treasury question. I doubt, however, whether such a proposal would command any wide measure of assent.

Mr. Johnston

Apart from the common form answer about budgetary intentions, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this particular industry involves no risk to the promoters of it and that the exploitation is extraordinary; and is it not advisable in the public interest that the Government should take some steps, by taxation or otherwise, to minimise the public disadvantages of this system?

Sir J. Simon

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right when he says that very large profits are made by the carrying on of this activity, and it is right to say that those large profits come under the full rigour of our taxation system.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that the Government did think of bringing this particular form of betting into the old Betting Bill, and that some of the Members of the Government were desperately against it, though the majority were for it?

Mr. H. G. Williams

May I ask my right hon. Friend what is the total rake-off which the Postmaster-General gets?

Mr. T. Williams

Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer in all his experience known a case where there are 9,000,000 willing subscribers to the Treasury, and does he not think he ought to hold out his hand in welcome?

Sir J. Simon

As long as I get the revenue I stand neutral.

Mr. Johnston

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn by the Lord Advocate of Scotland to a recent Aberdeen case in the Law Courts where the commissions paid to touts for these football pools came to 9s. in the pound, and does he know that in addition to that the promoters have an extraordinary rake-off, and that, therefore, something like only 9s. in the pound of the contribution is returned to the gamblers?