HC Deb 02 June 1964 vol 695 cc1003-18
Mr. Mellish

I beg to move Amendment No. 46, in page 8, line 33, at the end to insert: Provided that this subsection shall not apply to ante-post bets on horse races or greyhound races; and for the purposes of this proviso the expression "ante-post bets" means bets made in respect of named entries at odds agreed upon between the parties negotiating the bets. This Clause introduces a new form of betting tax, and it is understandable that such a change is likely to produce anomalies. This simple Amendment is designed to make quite clear that the Pool Betting Duty which is introduced by the Clause shall not be applicable to the ordinary ante-post betting carried on by bookmakers on horse races and greyhound races.

In introducing his Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he wished to apply the Pool Betting Duty now applied in respect of football pools to other forms of coupon betting. This seemed clear enough on the face of it, but it is by no means clear from a reading of the Clause itself. Subsection (3) purports to specify what bets shall be chargeable to the pool betting duty, and it provides that for this purpose bets shall be deemed to be made by way of coupon betting where they are made in pursuance of an invitation which offers up to a time fixed by the invitation or by the circumstances of its issue stated odds for a choice of bets. What all that jargon means, I gather, is that, by implication, ante-post betting, which is a common feature of betting in this country, will be liable to be taxed because, unless there is a clearer definition, it would come within that ambit. The Customs and Excise officials, who have been very friendly about this matter, did suggest to those who raised the point that, if they could draft a suitable set of words which would not destroy the purpose of Clause 7, the Chancellor might be prepared to look at it.

I will try to put the point in simple terms. It is common practice, particularly on big races, for example, the Derby tomorrow, for people to have an ante-post bet. It is not the Chancellor's intention to tax such bets, but, as the Clause now stands, they could be taxed. It is as simple as that. I ask the Minister to accept the Amendment, at least in principle, if the words are not satisfactory, and give an assurance that new wording will be found by the Treasury so that the anomaly can be removed.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

I can assure the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) that we have no intention of bringing ante-post betting within the scope of the betting tax. The hon. Member stated his case with great moderation and great fairness, and I am grateful that he and his hon. Friends have recognised that the Customs and Excise attempted to deal with the problem—and several others of a different nature which we have solved—in a spirit of common sense.

I must tell the hon. Gentleman that we could not accept the Amendment as it stands for two reasons. One—perhaps not as important as the other—is that the Amendment, for the first time in the history of betting, appears to try to give some legal definition of ante-post betting. This could lead to several difficulties in related fields. But the main reason is that the Amendment goes very wide. The purpose of the Amendment is not to make evasion of the coupon betting duty easier, but we fear that the effect of the Amendment as it stands would be to make it possible for certain types of coupon betting to escape duty.

The real difficulty is in finding a form of words which defines coupon betting but which does not include the presentation in a newspaper advertisement of the ante-post odds of a big race like the Derby and an invitation to fill in a coupon and turn it thereby into a coupon bet.

We shall have a little while to consider this between now and Report, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept my assurance that we will do everything we possibly can, after consultation and listening to everybody concerned, to find a method of accurately defining coupon betting, which does not allow those who wish to try to evade the duty to do so by taking advantage of an ill-drafted definition, but which, at the same time, does not make it impossible for perfectly legitimate advertisements of ante-post odds to be sent through the post or put in the Press.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

I welcome what the Economic Secretary has said. I think that he has met the spirit of the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) in the way that we all hoped he would.

As my hon. Friend said, this is a real problem. My hon. Friend did not pretend that the drafting of his Amendment was accurate. I appreciate that it is difficult to get the right form of words. I think that all of us who saw an attempted definition of ante-post bets on the Notice Paper felt that my hon. Friend had a great deal of courage in attempting this very difficult definition.

However, the Economic Secretary has accepted the principle of the Amendment, and we are grateful to him for saying that between now and Report he will give thought to an appropriate form of words to meet the grievance which my hon. Friend has in mind.

Mr. Mellish

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Mellish

I beg to move Amendment No. 47, in page 8, line 33, at the end to insert: Provided that—

  1. (i) in relation to bets made at fixed odds on football matches, the foregoing provisions of this subsection shall apply only to bets on draws; and
  2. (ii) in any case in which the amount of pool betting duty payable in respect of the bets on draws on football matches made by way of any coupon is less than 12½ per cent. Of the stake money paid in respect of all the bets made by way of that coupon there shall be added to the pool betting duty payable in respect of such coupon such sum as represents the difference between the amount of such pool betting duty and 12½ per cent. of the stake money paid on all such bets.
(4) For the purposes of the foregoing subsection the expression "a bet on draws" means a bet whereby the person making the bet forecasts that, in the case of a certain number of events specified on the coupon by which the bet is made, the result of each event will be a draw and the expression "bets on draws "shall be construed accordingly. This is a much more serious Amendment and takes in the major part of the intentions of the Clause. I ought to put it on record that the Amendment has been considered in some detail by the Treasury and the Customs and Excise and that they have already declared against it. I would also say that it is not my intention to take the Amendment to a Division. I recognise that I should lose anyway, and, in any case, I have tabled the Amendment to ensure that we have a discussion on the principle which is involved.

When the Chancellor introduced this tax in his Budget—this is where the fixed-odds football coupon is brought in for the first time—he said that the income from the present tax of 33⅓ per cent. which was applied to pool betting had been so substantially reduced—about £12 million—that he was advised that a great deal of it had been attracted from the normal pool betting and had gone to fixed-odds betting. He also said that it was right and proper that there should be some equity about it and that the tax should be applied in respect of both the pools and the fixed-odds coupon. He reduced the tax to 25 per cent. and applied it to both forms of betting.

From my knowledge of these matters, I think that the Chancellor is making a mistake if 'le thinks that he will get the £12 million by imposing this tax on fixed-odds betting. Indeed, it may destroy this form of betting, and I think that something ought to be said about it here. I am sure that it is not the intention of the Chancellor to destroy this form of betting. If it were his intention to do so, [would hope that he would say so here. If he said that, he would be honourable, but if he is not saying that, I hope he will not mind my saying that I do not think that he will get the money by this means. I shall show why that is so.

First, there is all the difference in the world between the sort of gambling which takes place on football pools and that which takes place on fixed-odds coupons. The majority of people who bet on the pools go in for the treble chance. Millions of people bet on this type of pool, and a colossal sum of money is involved. At the end of the day the whole thing is a lottery. Those who win a big prize have probably done so by making use of birthday dates which happened to turn up lucky that week. If a great many of those taking part won, the prize would be infinitesimal. Therefore, it is a lottery. Between 85 and 90 per cent. of the income of the pools comes from the treble chance. The punter betting on the treble chance has no knowledge what he will draw. He can have no idea what the amount will be. Whatever he happens to get, whether it is a large or small amount, he is very grateful.

When we turn to fixed-odds betting, it is quite a different gamble. There is a coupon on which odds are laid to certain results, and those taking part have to decide which teams they want to back and make a definite bet. In other words, it is a gamble as opposed to a lottery. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is here. On the Second Reading of the Bill he made a speech which spelt this out in some detail. He was right when he argued that there is all the difference in the world between these two forms of gambling.

If the Chancellor wants to tax gambling—I am sure that it will be taxed as the months and years go by—let us do it properly and not mess about with it. I do not believe that he will get the £12 million which he says he will get from the tax on this form of betting. The right hon. Gentleman also dreams that if he does not get it this way the punters who have been betting on the fixed-odds pool will go back to the ordinary football pool. I believe that he is wrong again. They are not the same sort of gamblers.

The most popular feature, of course, is picking out certain matches which the punter on a fixed-odds coupon favours on form, and so forth. The only similarity between the normal football coupon and the fixed-odds coupon is in the draws. The purpose of the Amendment, which is supported by responsible people who understand what the Chancellor intends to do and want to cooperate, is to ensure that the revenue which can be obtained from this source should be obtained in the easiest possible way.

The Amendment would safeguard both the bookmakers and the Chancellor from the effect of the Bill's proposals for the taxation of fixed-odds betting. It is felt that the imposition of such a heavy duty as 25 per cent. Of stakes will provide the strongest possible inducement for an unscrupulous collector to stand fixed-odds coupon bets himself. Another variation of the difference between the two coupons is that the fixed-odds coupon goes out to collectors and is returned to the original bookmaker.

If a tax is imposed there will be a tendency for some of these people to stand the bets themselves and so evade tax. An agent who is a bookmaker on his own account will not risk the loss of his permit, but there are hundreds of part-time collectors who may be willing to take this risk. We believe that much of the tax which the Chancellor hopes to get from this source will not reach the Inland Revenue at all and that it will be difficult to trace. I am informed that about 2,000 operators of these different fixed-odds coupons are in being at the moment. If the right hon. Gentleman and his officials in the Customs and Excise Department can trace them, all they will be doing well but they will certainly have a very busy time in trying to do so.

The object of the Amendment is to put this tax on a realistic basis. It is felt that, in this way, the tax would be collectible, but the Chancellor has already said that the Amendment would have the effect of reducing the amount that he wishes to collect by about 50 per cent. I advise him to settle for what he can get out of this source and put the tax on a realistic basis. He is taking a gamble with his present proposal. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is taking another gamble as well. He is not handling the betting laws and taxation in general in the proper way, and he and his staff face a very difficult problem as it is. Unless he deals with this situation in a more rational way there will be more trouble.

When one talks in this Committee on behalf of these people one always faces the argument, "Why are people like you arguing for people like them? Why not tax all bookmakers and gambling to the hilt?". Gambling, however, is part of the British way of life, whether we like it or not. In 1948, I said that we should legalise it and I was applauded by some bookmakers and yelled at by others. The present Government had the courage to introduce the Betting and Gaming Act, 1960, and I applaud them for their courage. I do not think that my party would have done it. I believe that it would have "ducked it". For the first time the Government put the bookmaker in the High Street, and that was a courageous thing to do.

I have always been anxious to establish that if people want to gamble—as they undoubtedly do—the Government should recognise it. I am tired of those humbugs who turn their heads away and say that it is not really going on. But if there is to be a tax on gambling let it be done honourably and decently and not by hole and corner methods.

In this case, the Chancellor has chosen the wrong way. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley supported my ideas on Second Reading and I hope that he will speak in this debate. I do not want a reversion to what I call the" 1960 era" in betting and gambling. Everyone knows what was going on then, including the vast amount of corruption in our police. We all knew that this was happening in my own area. I was glad then that the Government recognised gambling as inevitable. I hope that they do not intend to introduce methods now which will push us back to those hole and corner days. That is why I have put down this Amendment for discussion.

If the words of the Amendment are not satisfactory, then I will willingly withdraw it. I move it mainly as a vehicle for debate. I want a clean and above board way of taxing these people, a way that will give the Government and the tax dignity and effectiveness. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley was on a substantial point in arguing that we should make this proposal permissive. By November this year we shall know whether this tax is to be collected, but I have a shrewd feeling that we shall find that it cannot be. If that is so, we must await another Finance Bill in order to make a change.

The Chancellor's present proposal surely means the abolition of this form of betting. If that is what he wants, let him say so and I will admire his honesty. But if that is not his purpose then let him accept the advice of those who know something about the subject and realise that, if he wants £12 million, he will not get it this way.

Mr. Alan Hopkins (Bristol, North-East)

It is appropriate on the eve of Derby Day to discuss betting.

Mr. Mellish

Put your money on Oncidium.

Mr. Hopkins

I would not necessarily accept the hon. Gentleman's tip about that but I would accept his invitation to discuss the Amendment. This seems to centre on one matter. It is the intention of the Chancellor to raise some taxation in the form in which it has been expressed in the Bill. My right hon. Friend estimates that the yield is likely to be about £12 million. I wonder whether that claim is justifiable in the light of trade experience.

I believe it is true that the football pools have suffered a decline in turnover over the last few years but that, at the same time, there has been a rise in the amount bet by the public as a whole upon fixed odds, promoted in the main by three large bookmaking firms with very many collectors and sub-agents throughout the country. It is, therefore, natural that my right hon. Friend should look to these bookmakers for a source of revenue.

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend has made a justifiable assumption. Is it likely that the money at present in the fixed-odds pools will revert to the football pools and thereby increase the revenue from that source? Or is it likely that the fixed-odds pools will be able to absorb a tax of this nature and still carry on in business? I think it probable that the amount of money bet on fixed odds football pools will decline substantially and that it is not likely to go back into the hands of the football pool promoters. If this is so, it appears likely that my right hon. Friend will not get the amount of money he is hoping to obtain from this form of taxation. It may well be possible so to do, however, and the case for the Amendment is to see whether or not it is possible to devise another form of words which will take care of the practical difficulties of the bookmakers in making this tax workable.

I would not be prepared to press this to a Division, but, if the discussion results in my right hon. Friend considering whether there is an alternative form of words which will achieve his object while making it workable from the point of view of the bookmakers, it will have served a useful purpose.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I will not weary the Committee by continuing an argument which started on Second Reading, except to say that there is clearly a difference of opinion between me and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is quite confident—he said it in columns 1530–33 of HANSARD for 7th May, 1964—that his estimate in his Budget statement will be justified and that the money being spent on fixed odds will pay duty, or tend to go back to the football pools. He has also expressed his confidence that there is no danger of evasion. All I can say—and I say this as a compliment—is that he has the faith of the early Christians, a faith which in this respect I do not share. However, he has access to highly competent advice and he has taken it, and I hope very sincerely that he is right. I do not think that he is.

First, I believe that he fails to understand one or two things about this business. He has listened rather too easily to what the football promoters have to say. He has tended to regard the football pools operators in the same category as, say, William Hill, Copes, or Ladbrokes. I hasten to say for the benefit of the charitably-minded that I am in the pay of none of those gentlemen. I have no interest in them at all, except in so far as I can occasionally win something from them. There is a world of difference between those gentlemen and the football pools operators. The football pools operator never loses. He is on a winner from the word "Go".

However, the fixed-odds bookmaker does lose. I do not guarantee my figures, and I have no doubt that the Chancellor has access to this information, but I am sure that in the last two years the fixed-odds bookmakers have had a pretty thin time. That is one of the reasons why I repeat my advice to the Chancellor that he should be careful. If in the first six weeks of the next football season I am right and fixed odds have gone, that is to say, if the punter has refused either to pay 25s. for a £1 bet—and as a punter I am sure that I would not do this, and I do not know of anyone outside a lunatic asylum and even inside who would pay 25s. for a 20s. bet—or the punters have refused to accept odds of 45 to I where they had been getting 60 to I—there will be a great increase of illegal betting.

I remind the Chancellor that there are many punters, members of Conservative clubs, who are Tories and who have votes and who will not get paid. The Labour punters have only one vote, and they will vote Labour anyway, but the Tory punters will wake up to find that the bookmakers have gone. It is the existence of the big firms which gives any stability to betting. The small operator who is pirating someone else's coupon and running someone else's coupon through the means of a local printer is all right so long as he is winning and is able to buy his second Bentley and the second mink coat for his wife or a few more diamond rings. When William Hill or Mr. Ladbroke or Copes or any of the other big operators are winning, they put something against a rainy day.

Many bookmakers have been offering odds of 65 to 1. This is a part of the business which they do not like because it does not pay. Offering 65 to 1 is dodgy, and half of the business of fixed odds is on draws, something they do not like. If in the first six weeks of the next season there is a succession of weeks when there are draws, the number of bookmakers who will "knock" and the number of punters who will not get paid will run into millions. This is something which the Chancellor does not begin to understand. He has approached this matter with the attitude of the early Christians—"Everything in the garden will be all right; I have been given some estimates and they will work out."

If it does not work out and there is a run of successful draws on two or three successive weeks, not only will there be trouble, but the Chancellor will not get his revenue. My hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) put his finger on it—the boys who operate on the fixed odds are the discerning punters, the people who have tried a succession of birthday dates or a succession of coincidental dates in the family and who have tired of paying out 5s. a week on the pools and who, through a process of trial and error, have gone to the fixed odds. I do not believe that those who have graduated—if that is the right word—from the pools to the fixed odds will return from fixed odds to the pools. They are completely different beings. In fact, the popularity of pool betting is waning, and never mind how much propaganda the pool owners may put out. I do not believe, with all the help of the Chancellor, that he will ever again collect from the pool promoters anything like he collected in the old days.

In these circumstances, it becomes an argument about fixed odds. It is perfectly clear that the bookmaker would like to get rid of draws. As I have said, they have offered odds of 65 to 1 on draws only because the public have demanded it. If the Chancellor puts on a tax of 25 per cent. and says that the existence of betting shops is a guarantee that people will get their coupons—which is what he told me—he knows little about this business.

What he does not realise is that a vast number—I believe that there are some 14,000 betting shops—of these chaps are not bookmakers in the strict sense of the word, especially those dealing with football betting, but are operators on commission, Since Second Reading, I have spoken to one or two who operate on a very big scale. They have told me that they gel 3s. 6d. in the £, out of which they spend 1s. 6d. sending in the coupons, leaving themselves with 2s. profit. If that 3s. 6d. in the £ cannot be paid because of the operation of the tax, the punters will go where they can get 3s. 6d. in the £, and that is round the corner where the same coupon will have been Roneoed. If the Chancellor thinks that this will not happen, all I can say is that I hope that he is right and I am wrong.

I underline, emphasise and back up what my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey said and what I said on Second Reading: the present Foreign Secretary performed an act of great political courage when he introduced the present betting legislation. When it came up in the last Parliament, I did not believe that any Government would tackle it. But the right hon. Gentleman did, and it has been a very important step forward, and I pay my tribute to his courage in getting rid of not all but 95 per cent. of illegal betting.

What the Chancellor now proposes can take us back to square one. He is re-creating illegal betting just at the time when we have moved away from it and when the habit of legality and respect- ability has begun to grow. This is at a time when he or his successor might have begun to think of the steps which could be taken to tax betting as a whole, because it ought to be taxed. It is a non-productive undertaking, and, as an act of social justice, it ought to be taxed. It ought to be taxed because of the great pre-emption of capital and the number of people employed in the industry at a time when the labour market is starved, and for the Chancellor to gamble in this way seems to show a touch of confidence, or overconfidence, in the face of all the evidence and of past experience.

If the Chancellor is right and I am wrong, I shall give three cheers, and no harm will be done, but if I happen to be right and he is wrong, we shall be stuck with it. The country will be stuck with it. All that I ask the Chancellor to do is to make this permissive. If by the first week of October he finds that fixed odds have gone—and those who operate this business are confident that fixed odds are finished because they cannot bear a tax of 25 per cent. and because of the price that the punter will have to pay—the position can then be put right.

Let us not leave it to be dealt with at the next Budget. The Chancellor can then say, "My estimates were wrong, and I shall introduce a Statutory Instrument to restore the situation". I do not want the Chancellor to say that he was wrong. All that I want him to do is to prevent the growth of illegality, because I do not want to waste another two years before we find ourselves in the position when gambling in all its forms bears the tax which it ought to bear in the interests of the community as a whole.

For many years I have laboured to try to get some sense into this matter. The Chancellor has now taken this step. If he is right, he will be able to go on from there, as will others who follow him, but it is not right that he should gamble on being right and make no provision for safeguarding the position if he happens to be wrong. I am not saying that he personally will have made a mistake. The mistake will have been made by his advisers whose life's work does not give them the necessary experience in this field to enable them to be certain about what will happen. Nobody can be certain about this matter.

The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was wrong, and it is therefore a little surprising that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be so emphatic in saying that he is right, so right that he proposes to smash the lifeboats, throw away the lifebelts, and make sure that the wireless does not work. He is throwing away all the safeguards which will enable him to put the position right should he be proved to be wrong.

I do not understand why an intelligent man should be so stubborn. I am not warning the Chancellor, but I repeat for the umpteenth time that in the interests of the country as a whole, he should take steps to ensure that if the situation envisaged by my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey and by myself should arise, there will be an opportunity to put the matter right. This matter could be dealt with by a simple Amendment on Report, and I shall be very glad to hear that the Government have had second thoughts on the matter.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

I hesitate to oppose the formidable body of expertise which was presented with a persuasiveness worthy of Epsom Downs tomorrow afternoon, but I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Hopkins) that this is not really a question of finding a form of words which is suitable to achieve a mutually agreed purpose, as it was in the case of the last Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish). I must oppose the Amendment as a matter of principle because, as the Committee will realise, it is, in effect, asking that the proposed duty on fixed-odds coupon betting should be halved. It is therefore an argument not about a form of words, but about an overall rate of duty.

8.15 p.m.

Inevitably the arguments put forward by hon. Members on both sides must be of a rather speculative nature, perhaps suitable for a rather speculative business. It is not possible in this case to say with certainty what is going to happen, although one must admit that a fall in the wagering on football pools, accompanied by a rise in the wagering on fixed odds, does not seem to be prima facie evidence that different types of people bet on the two different forms of gambling. The argument put forward by the hon. Member for Bermondsey, and by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), is that really only the mug punter puts money on football pools and that the discerning better wants better odds and the chance of beating the handicapper, which the fixed odds coupon gives him.

I have a greater faith than has the hon. Member for Dudley, not only in the rightness of the Chancellor and his advisers, but in the capacity of the bookmaker to find a form of arranging his coupon and the gamble he offers to the public which will succeed both in satisfying those who regard themselves as discriminating gamblers, and in not weighing the odds too strongly against himself.

The second part of the argument was that because of this difference between the two types of people who gamble in this way, the Treasury would lose revenue, and that because the pools are a lottery and the fixed odds are a gamble we would destroy one form of betting without getting a compensating increase in revenue from the other. I could not possibly refute that argument with any definiteness, but one must admit that the balance of evidence—and certainly the balance of evidence which we have been able to accumulate—shows that the traffic can bear the overall duty of 25 per cent.

The hon. Member for Dudley suggested that we might be wrong—and I suppose that we might be—and that, therefore, it would be better to make the duty permissive. At one stage in his argument he hinted that the bookmakers were willing to pay the duty in relation to bets made at fixed odds on draws, not only because this was competitive with football pools, but because it was a part of their business which did not pay, and that they would not mind very much if it were destroyed. I do not think there is anything in that argument. I think that the hon. Member will agree that he cannot expect the Chancellor to encourage evasion by saying, "If you can evade the tax successfully enough at the beginning we will take it off. "That is really what the proposal amounts to.

Mr. Wigg

I am not advocating any course of action. What I am trying to indicate is what will happen. I am not going to do the evasion.

Mr. Macmillan

I accept the hon. Member's reassurance on that point. I can only point out to the Committee that the Customs and Excise authorities feel confident that they will be able to collect the revenue due to them, and that whatever may be the administrative difficulties in respect of those who organise fixed odds betting and also the Customs and Excise authorities, we believe that they can be overcome, that by the imposition of this tax we shall not destroy those who operate fixed odds betting, and that we shall collect from it the duty we have estimated. Even if the imposition of the tax tends to make people move away from this form of betting, it is only equitable that the two forms of betting on football, dissimilar though hon. Members say they are, should be taxed in the same way.

In the circumstances, I can only recommend the Committee not to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Mellish

This is a flat rejection of the Amendment. I am not surprised, because we had an earlier indication that it would be rejected. But the hon. Member did not deal with the point that I made, that some people will produce illegal coupons which the Customs and Excise authorities, with all their ingenuity, will not be able to trace. The hon. Member has not mentioned that point. I do not think that he cares about it. I think that all he is concerned with is that if he can get EX hundred million he will be satisfied. The amount of money is a matter for the Chancellor, but I hope that he will not ruin what the 1960 Act has been trying to do. That was the only thing that I was pleading for.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) referred to the fact that some of the big firms lost money on fixed-odds betting. The accounts of these firms are subject to constant audit by the Customs and Excise authorities, so that there is no chance of a fiddle. I am told that the books of one firm which have been examined show that in 1961–62 it lost £80,000 and that last year it lost £606,000. If the Chancellor imposes a 25 per cent. tax on top of this such a firm will be very foolish if it carries on. Anyway, we shall see. I do not intend to press the Amendment, but I shall not withdraw it.

Amendment negatived

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.