HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc610-2
27. Mr. Kelley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the names of the racecourses which will cease to receive financial assistance from the Levy Board after the end of 1965.

28. Mr. Kitson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement concerning the Recommendations of the Levy Board; and from which racecourses it is intended to withdraw financial support after 1965.

Mr. Brooke

I understand that the turf authorities have informed the managements of Bogside, Lewes, Lincoln and Rothbury racecourses that they do not intend to allocate fixtures to these courses after next year. The Horserace Betting Levy Board has submitted proposals to me under Section 25(2)(d) of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1963, for offering compensatory payments to these courses for the withdrawal of the financial support which the Board had previously undertaken to give them up to the end of 1966. I am prepared to approve such payments. I understand that the Board no longer intends to proceed with its earlier provisional proposals to discontinue financial support to certain other courses after 1966, namely, Edinburgh, Folkestone, Pontefract, Sedgefield, Stockton and West Norfolk Hunt.

Mr. Kelley

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply on behalf of my constituents who live adjacent to Pontefract and who will be pleased that they are still to be able to enjoy racing in the future. Is there anything which in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman would have prevented this statement from being made earlier, as there does not seem to be any reason why this information should have been withheld for such a long time?

Mr. Brooke

It has not been withheld for such a long time. I could not make any statement until I received the views and recommendations of the Levy Board.

Mr. Kitson

Does my right hon. Friend realise that his reply will be very much welcomed in the North, particularly at Stockton, Sedgfield and Pontefract, where there will continue to be racing? Can he say whether it is intended now to have steeplechasing at Stockton and what is likely to happen to the Scottish Grand National? Will he discuss with the Levy Board to ensure that if the course at Liverpool is not available, the Grand National will be kept in the north of England?

Mr. Brooke

These are far-reaching questions. I should not like the House to imagine that the Home Secretary—though he has many duties—is the arbiter of all racing matters. Questions about whether there will be steeple-chasing and where the Grand National will be run are matters for the turf authorities and the managers of racecourses.

Mr. Taverne

Is the Minister aware that his announcement will cause great disappointment at Lincoln, with its long history of racing? How can the Home Secretary justify the fact that the Levy Board, which receives its income from all racecourses from bets which are placed there, proposes to redistribute that income only to some racecourses?

Mr. Brooke

That is a matter for the Levy Board. In this case, it is the turf authorities which have acted. It is the turf authorities, over whom I have no control whatever in this matter, who have indicated to the managements of these four courses that, in the interests of racing generally, they do not propose to allocate fixtures to these four courses after next year.

Mr. Kimball

Will my right hon. Friend make clear whether there is any form of appeal which racecourse authorities, such as the Lincoln authority, can make against being cut off from the grant? Can he tell me who actually makes the final decision?

Mr. Brooke

I think that the final decision as to whether fixtures are allocated to a racecourse is made by the turf authorities, and any representations should be made to them.