HC Deb 06 July 1981 vol 8 cc172-206 3.35 am
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Leon Brittan)

I beg to move, That, as from 27 July 1981, section 17(2) of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1972 shall have effect—

  1. (a) with the substitution for "7½ per cent." (in both places) of "10 per cent.";
  2. (b) with the substitution for "three thirty-sevenths" of "one-ninth".
And it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

The motion proposes an increase in the rate of bingo duty from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent. Profits cannot be made from the stake money in bingo. Therefore, under the new proposals, 90 per cent. of the stake money will remain to be returned to players as prizes. This form of gambling is one that can withstand the duty increase. I am conscious that there is an area of possible anomaly in the duty structure which is related to the level of duty. There have been complaints from licensed bingo clubs that they are faced with unfair competition from registered clubs that provide bingo on a large scale but under conditions that carry exemption from duty. I understand the basis of the complaints made by the licensed bingo clubs that are faced with that competition.

The Commissioners of Customs and Excise have been asked to review the scope of the present exemptions, especially for registered clubs that provide prizes totalling £1,000 or more in a week. The commissioners would much appreciate it if interested parties let them know their views on this issue for the purpose of consideration and for the review that is taking place. That issue is separate from the level of the bingo duty and the increase from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent., which seems to the Government to be a reasonable increase.

Mr. Austin Mitchell (Grimsby)

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying that because the Government have increased the levy on the regular bingo halls in an unjustifiable fashion they are now being driven to persecute the licensed clubs as well? If a licensed club is having bingo every night, and perhaps two or three sessions, the prize money that comes from that activity will be equated with the larger prizes from one or two sessions that some clubs offer.

Mr. Brittan

None of that relates to the motion.

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

What is the answer?

Mr. Brittan

The answer is that the motion merely increases the rate of duty payable from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent.

The other matter which I referred to does not arise on this motion, but it is a convenient opportunity for me to say that we are aware that there are criticisms of the structure of the exemptions and that if those who are interested would care to inform the Commissioners of Customs and Excise of their views on the best way of dealing with the criticisms which have been made, that can be considered in the course of the review.

3.40 am
Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

The Chief Secretary said that it would be for the convenience of the House for him to announce that not only is the rate of duty on bingo being increased by 33 per cent. this year, having gone up by 33 per cent. last year, meaning a doubling over the last two years, but that registered clubs—by which we mean miners' welfare institutes and working men's clubs up and down the country—are also likely to be penalised by the Government by a change in the Customs and Excise concessions towards them in terms of the present arrangements which they enjoy. I am sure that the Club and Institute Union, the miners' welfare institutes, the other working men's clubs up and down the country and the trades council clubs will be deeply indebted to the Chief Secretary for the fact that he chose to announce that decision at 3.39 am without notice.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

And that he refused to answer questions on it.

Mr. Straw

That is right. We know from the Chief Secretary that he and his colleagues are now making a habit of not giving notice when they come to make important statements on taxation changes. When they came to the House last Thursday, they did not have the decency or the courage to make a proper statement which Opposition Members could have in their hands beforehand, but they slipped out the announcement by way of an oral answer to a question at 3.30 pm.

When the derv duty was debated on 30 April, the Opposition challenged the Government, particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to say where the £85 million which he was giving back to the transport hauliers by way of the reduction in the derv duty would come from, given the fact that the Government insisted that the money would have to come from somewhere. I asked him whether that concession would be paid for by the rich or the poor. No answer was given to me, as happened to many of my hon. Friends.

The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) came out with a long list of suggestions as to how the money could be raised. He did not place first in his list the suggestion that the money should be raised by increasing gambling and betting duties. The first item in his list was to increase the dog licence from 37½p a year to £10 a year. On his estimate, which we must accept as we know what a master with figures he is, there are 6 million dogs. Six million multiplied by £10 equals £60 million. At a stroke, two-thirds of this money would be raised by increasing the dog licence. He also suggested a penny on beer and 10p on a bottle of wine.

One of the significant things about the debate has been the absence of the man who caused it, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East. It was he who forced this concession out of the Government. He was here between 11 pm and 11.25 pm and again for a short moment at 2.51 am. I saw him walking down the corridor back to his bed shortly after the last Division. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) was right to ask "Where is he?" from a sedentary position at 11.30 pm, referring to the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East. It is noticeable that the hon. Gentleman has not had the courage to come here to castigate the Government for not accepting his suggestion. Why is he not here to continue his crusade to increase the dog licence fee by 3,000 per cent., from 37½p to £10, or to add 10p to the price of a bottle of wine, which he said would raise another £50 million?

More seriously, the Government could easily on 30 April have told us how they intended to raise the £85 million. They had six weeks between being served notice of a Back-Bench revolt on the Budget and petrol duty being debated in the Finance Bill. They could have announced that they intended to raise the £85 million by increasing tobacco and betting and gaming duties then. They failed to do so because they lacked the courage to force their Back Benchers to face the choices that they believe should be faced.

We do not accept those choices. The £85 million concession on derv should not be paid for by increasing taxation in this way. As many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said, to raise £85 million by fiscal means is to increase the deflationary effects of the Government's policies, to increase unemployment and, as a result, to increase the deep-seated social tensions that led to the tragedies that we have seen this weekend.

Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley (Mr. Woolmer), I might mind a little less if the Government said that the £85 million would be used to offset some of the damage that they had done to our economy—to regenerate British industry and to replace some of the money that they have taken from our hard-pressed regions and from Scotland and Wales. However, instead of that, the Government are, in fact, cutting regional assistance, particularly in Yorkshire and Humberside and in the North-West. In North-East Lancashire, where unemployment has more than doubled in the past 15 months, at a time when we need assistance the most, our regional assistance is to be ended. That also applies in North Cheshire. Warrington is affected, among other areas. The regional and new town assistance that that great borough enjoyed under a Labour Government will come to an end as a result of the announcements made two years ago. The Government have not changed their minds, despite the massive increase in unemployment.

No one can tell me that even the dolt-heads in the Government believed in their worst moments that unemployment—

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that we are discussing a tax on bingo. I do not see how the hon. Gentleman's comments relate to that.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

I am hoping that it will become apparent in a short time.

Mr. Straw

I am sorry that it was not apparent already.

We are considering whether we should approve an increased tax on bingo. The Government may believe that what they decide they can also dispose of, but we believe that the House has a role to play in agreeing or disagreeing with such proposals. In deciding whether to approve or disapprove of increases in taxation, we have to examine the Government's fiscal judgment, the reasons why they are seeking to raise taxation and how they say that the revenue will be used.

As many of my hon. Friends have said, if the Government had said that they would use some of the additional taxation being raised to help the worst-hit regions and to alleviate some of the damage and the serious unemployment that they have caused, we might have looked on the proposals rather differently. But none of that has been within the justification put forward by the Government for this increase in taxation. Indeed, virtually no economic or fiscal argument has been advanced, and certainly no suggestion has been made that the money would be used to help our hard-pressed regions.

We do not accept that raising this money is either necessary or desirable. We say on the question of raising bingo duty, as we have said on the other increases in duty that we have discussed today, that if the money must be raised—and we do not accept that hypothesis—it is wholly inequitable to raise it in this way.

We know why the Government have gone for the so-called leisure pursuits of tobacco and gambling. It is because they can say that this is optional expenditure which does not really affect the economy. But we also know that the Government have not in any sense been even-handed as between the rich and the poor in their treatment of leisure pursuits. That argument was well rehearsed in previous debates, but the simple truth bears repeating.

With due deference to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), while the rich are often seen at casinos and on-course betting, they would not be seen dead in betting shops or bingo halls. But millions of people go regularly to bingo. On the whole, they are women from lower-income families, predominantly in the North and the North-West. Bingo is one of the largest leisure activities in this country. According to the gambling statistics put out by the Home Office earlier this year, between 5 million and 6 million people in this country are regular bingo players. The average daily attendance at bingo halls in 1978 was 424,000, so the daily attendance is about half a million people. More significantly, as many of us know, the overwhelming proportion of those who play in bingo halls are working women over the age of 30.

Mr. Michael Cocks

It is a sexist attack.

Mr. Straw

As my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip says, it is also a sexist attack. It is an attack on women, particularly working women. It is an attack on women with families and on middle-aged women, because 91 per cent. of those who play in bingo halls are over 30 years old. The Chief Secretary sneers at that. He has probably never seen a bingo ticket in his life. He does not understand that for many people tied to a humdrum job or to looking after a family, or both, a visit to the bingo hall is not something to be sneered at. A visit to the bingo hall once, twice or three times a week is a chance to have some kind of social activity and to inject some interest and excitement into their lives. It is also a chance for single people, particularly the elderly—and many participants in bingo are elderly—to meet others and to break the loneliness of their lives. It is a class issue and a sexist issue. It is also, as the gambling statistics show, an issue between North and South, because a much higher proportion of people in the North than in the South bet in bingo halls.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

The Chief Secretary happens to be a Member for a Northern constituency, in which there will be tens of thousands of women who play bingo. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be willing to laugh as much in front of them as he is laughing here tonight?

Mr. Straw

The Chief Secretary is no doubt much relieved that because of the difficulties of running the economy he has spent little time in his constituency in recent weeks. He claims to understand about bingo. Therefore, we shall listen with interest as he calls out the numbers in his winding-up speech.

We say that raising the money in this way is inequitable. If the Government wished to raise this amount of revenue, there were other ways which would have been far more equitable.

The Government should take back the handouts to the rich that they gave not only in the latest Budget but in the previous two. In his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), the Chief Secretary made much in the last debate of the relatively low take of the concessions on capital transfer tax and capital gains tax that would accrue in this financial year as a result of the changes made in this year's Budget. That is correct, but only as far as it goes. What the Chief Secretary forgot or failed to mention was the massive size of the handouts to the rich made by this Government over the past three years.

First, in the 12 June 1979 Budget a total of £863 million was dished out to the rich in just two ways—changes in higher rate thresholds, at £662 million, and increases in the investment income surcharge thresholds of £201 million. Of course, before the last election many people were crying their eyes out on our surgery doorsteps over the hardship that was being caused by the levels of the investment income surcharge thresholds.

In last year's Budget a further £388 million was dished out to the rich. There was a £106 million increase in the higher rate threshold to £11,250. Another £86 million resulted from changes in higher rate thresholds higher up the bands. There were a £31 million increase in the investment income surcharge threshold; £20 million income tax relief for capital losses; £65 million from a £3,000 exempt slice for individuals and a £1,500 exempt slice for trustees in capital gains tax; £5 million rollover relief for lifetime gifts; and a £125 million increase in the thresholds of capital transfer tax.

Those figures were at 1979 and 1980 prices. The value today of the concessions that the Government made in their first two Budgets, leaving aside the massive concessions that they made in the latest Budget, is not less than £1,500 million. Those concessions were made at exactly the time that last year £901 million was taken from the poorest taxpayers by the abolition of the lower rate bands. That is a measure of this Government's social priorities.

It was not only the Government who were pleased about the changes. Their supporters outside were desperate for these changes in the taxation of the rich. The Government justified them not on grounds of greed but because they formed an essential part of the Government's Budget strategy to get Britain back to work, to provide opportunities and incentives, in the words of the Chancellor in the 1979 Budget.

In a letter written after the June 1979 Budget, the then director-general of the CBI reported the view of the CBI council. It reads like a piece of ancient history, but it is worth reminding the CBI as well as the Government how the strategy unfolded and how the Government have almost entirely lost their way.

The resolution of the CBI council dated 28 June 1979 reads: This council fully supports the strategy and direction of the Budget … The CBI council calls on all CBI member firms to do everything in their power through efficient and competitive management of their enterprises to ensure that the policies which the CBI has long advocated and which are now being pursued by the Government lead to higher productivity, higher living standards, more jobs and a more successful economy in the interests of the British people as a whole.

The CBI's claim was that those tax cuts would lead to higher productivity, higher living standards, more jobs and a more successful economy in the interests of the British people as a whole. We all know that as events have unfolded the Budget strategy of 1979 has led to lower productivity, lower living standards, as we are discovering, fewer jobs and a less successful economy in the had interests of the British people as a whole.

Not only have the Government doled out £1,500 million to the rich. They have also, as we discover on a careful examination of the Finance Bill, failed properly to plug the Vestey loophole. The Chief Secretary is proclaiming proudly that in a full year what the Government have tried to do on the Vestey loophole will bring in £4 million. But they are using a tiny plug to plug a massive and yawning hole, and the Minister of State as well as the Chief Secretary knows that the Government's propositions in no way put the law back to the position it was in before the judgment of the House of Lords in the Vestey case in November 1979.

If the Government had been serious about taxing the income accruing to overseas trusts held for the benefit of British residents, and if they had taxed all the income arising on those trusts whether received in this country or not, they could have realised 10 times the amount that they are seeking to raise with these motions. But, of course, their social priorities mean that they wish to provide a system of taxation which is as voluntary as possible for the rich while being as tough as possible for the poor.

While on the issue of the Vesteys and the Government's failure to raise taxation in that way, I draw attention to a report which appears in the Financial Times of Tuesday 7 July. It appears that the deputy treasurer of Imperial Chemical Industries, a Mr. Archie Donaldson, has put forward three propositions in an article in a leading financial journal, "The Treasurer", the magazine of the British Association of Corporate Treasurers, to evade the reimposition of exchange controls by this Government or by a future Labour Government. The proposals involve the transfer of the ownership of overseas businesses to offshore companies, the setting up of offshore companies to handle part of the parent company's liquidity management, and the establishing of offshore trading companies.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that this motion deals with bingo.

Mr. Straw

I do not wish to stray from the motion, but this is relevant because we are discussing other ways in which the money could be raised. That is why I mentioned the Vesteys and the way in which the deputy treasurer of ICI is proposing arrangements similar to those used by the Vesteys to seek to pre-empt and evade the reimposition of exchange controls by the Government or a future Government. It is a thorough-going disgrace for the deputy treasurer of one of Britain's major companies to do that, and he should be condemned by the Government at the first opportunity.

Mr. K. J. Woolmer (Batley and Morley)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is the abolition of exchange controls that has enabled so much money to go out? I understand that that deputy treasurer of ICI is seeking to avoid the need for wealthy companies to pay some of the taxes that will be far in excess of what is suggested by the measure. If the Government wanted to assist in keeping taxation down and the number of jobs up, they would reintroduce exchange controls, keep investment in this country and make sure that British companies paid British taxes.

Mr. Straw

My hon. Friend is correct. If the Government had kept exchange controls in place and forced companies and pension funds to invest their money in this country and had prevented the gambling and Vestey-type arrangement that the deputy treasurer of ICI is now proposing, there would have been more revenue and a more buoyant economy than we have.

In all the changes that the Government have made to provide handouts to the rich in the Budget as well as in previous Budgets, they have enjoyed the silent support of the Social Democratic Party. Its representative has rarely been present. I am glad that one representative slid in at a quarter to four in the morning. But he has barely been present at any time, on the Floor of the House or in Committee.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

It might return us to the subject we are discussing if I were to say that the Government's economic policy, the Social Democratic Party and bingo have one thing in common: they involve a lot of balls.

Mr. Straw

They also involve massive gambles that do not come off. It is not surprising that the Conservative Party and the Social Democratic Party have a common approach to tax handouts to the rich, given the earnings of the erstwhile leader of the Social Democrats, Mr. Roy Jenkins. While he was President of the EEC Commission he earned £62,376. Now he has retired, for the next three years he will receive 50 per cent. of that, almost £32,000. The electors of Warrington should know how Mr. Roy Jenkins has lined his pockets from the EEC Commission.

Mr. Michael Welsh (Don Valley)


Mr. Straw

He received not only £62,376 but a lump sum allowance of £5,700 for representational purposes and residential and household allowances of 15 per cent. and 5 per cent. of his basic salary. That is paid by the taxpayers of this country, including the taxpayers of Warrington. When he is 65 he will receive a pension of 18 per cent. of his salary. I am sure that we shall weep for him, because that is about £11,000 tax-free.

Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Would my hon. Friend describe that as a full house?

Mr. Straw

We oppose all the motions before the House, because they are harmful to the economy, to employment, and to the people of this country. They are irrelevant to the make-believe world which is inhabited by Treasury Ministers. They are motivated by a serious consideration not of economic policy but of the Government's economic policy. There is a need to maintain discipline in the ever more divided and demoralised Conservative Party, as we learn from the increasing and more strident tones of the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath).

This amounts to a spiteful and mean £85 million slap on the wrist by the headmistress to punish Conservative Back Benchers for their revolt. That would be all right but for the fact that the £85 million penalty will be paid for by millions of working people who can least afford it. Once again, those people are being penalised for the mistakes and the bog-up that has been made by the Government. We oppose and shall fight this increase in taxation as we have fought the increases in all the motions.

4.10 am
Mr. Michael Welsh (Don Valley)

I should like to say that I was speaking to a full House, but this sparse attendance will be the result in many bingo halls in the North when this tax is imposed. That will be embarrassing to the working class when they go to those bingo halls. It is not embarrassing to me because, although I am a reasonably new Member, I am used to the fact that not many Conservative Members attend when we are discussing attacks on the working class.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

Perhaps my hon. Friend will comment on the number of Tories who are interested in imposing extra taxes on the working class compared with their total absence tonight. Perhaps he will also bear in the mind the contrast when the Lloyd's Bill was discussed, by which many of them lined their pockets in addition to obtaining their parliamentary salaries. On that occasion, the Conservative Benches were packed, as though it was a massively important debate—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Cryer

In fact, they were talking about their own financial interests—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Cryer

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I would be obliged if you said why you called me to order, because the reason was unclear.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I called the hon. Gentleman to order because he was not in order.

Mr. Welsh

I have always accepted the fact that many Conservative Members are here for self-preservation. I would like to think that they are here for the benefit of the nation and everyone who lives here.

It would not be right for me to speak on bingo if I did not declare an interest. My wife plays bingo. I am pleased that she does. When Northern Members of Parliament stop here five days a week, like most Labour Members do, their wives are entitled to some sort of pleasure.

I live in a colliery village. My wife goes to bingo. Up to six months ago, she went to Carcroft bingo hall. The burden of the tax was then so heavy that it closed down.

I am not complaining if that is the name of the game. My wife must now travel two and a half miles to Brodsworth to play bingo, and I do not complain about that. However, if the tax is further increased, I shall have to put my foot down. I do not mind my wife playing bingo, but I doubt whether I shall be able to afford the fare for her to go from one area to another. Therefore I strongly object to the increase, if only from the aspect of looking after one's sweetheart's interests at those times when one is away from home.

Mr. Golding

I hope that my hon. Friend will take a charitable and generous view towards his wife's bingo. My hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) admitted earlier that he got so cross about the ashtrays—his wife being a smoker—that sometimes he threw them out of the window. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh) will take a more generous view of his wife's activities than that.

Mr. Welsh

My wife is bigger than I am. But, of course, this is a serious debate on bingo and on the working people's pursuit of felicity. I can assure my hon. Friends that I have no arguments with my wife. I have always agreed that she is the boss, and that is the end of it—there is no dispute.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

If my hon. Friend were involved in the pursuit of Felicity it might be otherwise.

Mr. Welsh

Of course, like good married couples, we fall out sometimes. In fact, I often feel like strangling her. But I would never dream of divorcing her—never.

Mr. Allen McKay (Penistone)

I hope my hon. Friend will forgive his wife for playing bingo, because bingo has a very powerful pull. It brings in the males as well as the females. One of my local working men's clubs had a strip-tease act for six weeks and decided after all that as it was losing customers it would have to go back to bingo.

Mr. Welsh

It was morally right that the club should go back to playing bingo. However, if the tax is imposed, we may find that some will return to their previous hobbies. The mining villages would be afraid of that happening because of the great moral standing that they like to maintain.

In moving the motion, the Minister referred to institutions other than Mecca paying more than £1,000 a week in prizes and said that those institutions might also be taxed. That would be terrible. Working men's clubs often have four or five houses at about £25 each. There are also many religious bodies which have bingo in their church halls—and quite rightly so, because it helps to bring in funds for the church. If their members come to the hall to play bingo, and more than £1,000 a week is involved—that could easily happen, with inflation as it is—they might be taxed. There are also certain charities which organise bingo.

When the Government introduced the 15 per cent. VAT in their first Budget and included VAT on charities, I thought that it was an insult to those who worked so hard to bring happiness to people in need. Now we have another attack on those people. It is deplorable. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the proposal and that he will not allow its imposition on working men's clubs, charities and other bodies that try hard to help people.

We are discussing a mini-Budget. Only a number of weeks have elapsed since the Budget itself. Now we have a completely different proposal. Was there any dialogue with Conservative Members before the Budget? Or was the Budget introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the lines of "You will follow me into the Lobby, rightly or wrongly"? If the latter, one must question the definition of democracy in the party now in Government. I do not wish to see the Conservative Party lose its deposit in the coming by-election. The party needs all the money it can get. One cannot avoid saying, however, that a vote for the Conservative candidate means that he can come to the House of Commons but he will do as he is told. Only a revolution in the party will change that situation.

People outside Westminster will ask why the Government have changed their mind. Why has the Minister proposed to increase the tax on bingo and made it the subject of review? I have not heard about any similar proposal in respect of yachts. Every weekend, in my village, the miners go down to the seaside to sail their yachts to the south of France. I am sure that they would not grumble if they were taxed.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend might be interested to know that if he was able to take time off to talk to people in the yachting fraternity on the French and Italian rivieras he would find that there are now a greater number of English-speaking people and British nationals who own yachts there than at any time since the 1930s. The reason is that a great number of British people are taking their money out of the United Kingdom and investing in yachts in those locations.

Mr. Welsh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That is most probably what is happening. Why are those yachts not taxed before they leave the country? Why not tax more of the things enjoyed by the rich? The reason is that the party in power is determined to attack only one section, namely, the working class.

I ask the Minister to tell me of one Bill in which the present Government have attacked the rich. Nobody can describe such a Bill. All the present Government's Bills attack the poor and the working class. The attack on bingo is an attack against the working class. That is why the present Government are in office. They should be proud of that. They should stand up and say "We are here to attack the working class". I should be ashamed. I do not want to attack the needy. I want to attack the greedy.

I am not an economist or finance man like the Minister, who is well educated in this sphere, but I believe that if the bingo hall in Carcroft is closed because it does not pay—probably because the tax is too high—and my sweetheart has to go to another hall to play, that hall might also have to close if the tax burden is increased. The law of diminishing returns might then come into play. Instead of achieving the sum desired, less will be produced.

If the Government do not achieve what they desire tonight, will they come back and tax the working class on something else?

Mr. Golding

Is not my hon. Friend in danger of encouraging a law of diminishing returns if the Government think that that might diminish the returns of working-class people?

Mr. Welsh

I come from Yorkshire. I hope that one of our cricketers will hold the fort for the country today. However, I should like to mention another place which is not often talked about in Yorkshire because it is on the other side of the Pennines. I have nothing against Lancashire. It has produced some good cricketers.

Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh)

I have tried to aid and nurture my hon. Friend in attacking the Government. I wish that he would respond. There exists between Lancashire and Yorkshire not a feud but a peace settlement.

Mr. Welsh

I did not mean to say anything to hurt my hon. Friends from Lancashire. Lancastrians can play cricket. If the law of diminishing returns applies, what will the Government tax next? All that I can think of—with respect to my friends from Lancashire—is clogs. Many kiddies in Lancashire and Yorkshire wear clogs. Clogs are coming back into use, because, due to the burdens imposed by the Government people cannot afford other footwear. But what will the Government tax if they do not get the necessary money from taxing clogs?

Mr. Austin Mitchell

My hon. Friend should not mention any more objects that are sacred in Yorkshire. We have a southern Government representing the fat South. They know nowt about Yorkshire, and if my hon. Friend mentions anything that is good they will tax it.

Mr. Welsh

We must try to educate those in the South. The Government are attacking the poor. Where will it end? When they have taxed bingo and clogs and not brought in the desired revenue, they will have to tax children who walk around in bare feet. The Government will have won then. They will really have attacked the working class.

I am not very old—I do not mind admitting my age; I am over 35—but I have never seen anything that gives people so much pleasure as bingo. Not many people know about the working-class wives like my good mother who achieved happiness by sitting in each other's kitchens and talking. The kitchens were sacrosanct. Men dared not go in.

Those women were bosses in their homes, but they had narrow outlooks and bingo allowed them to get out and meet and talk to others in the village two or three limes a week. It lifted a burden off their shoulders and gave them untold happiness. They got as much pleasure from bingo as Conservative Members would get from dinner at the Savoy and being driven home in a big car at 4 o'clock in the morning.

It is deplorable that the Government should be attacking bingo. They are attacking women who are the salt of the earth. I do not want to insult ladies from the South. I am sure that they are nice people and enjoy their recreation, but the Government's proposal is a blatant attack on those living north of Watford—Labour voters. Political dogma is behind it.

The Chief Secretary is not bothered. He will sleep easy in his cosy bed. He will not need an electric blanket in his centrally heated house. In the North people work hard and play hard. The wives have a terrific amount of fun going to bingo and talking to other wives. The Government will spoil that. If I did not know about what happened at Carcroft, I would not have thought that possible. Six months ago, when the bingo hall in the village closed, I would not have bothered about it. I would not have been aware of it even. Now some of the wives in the village go to the next village, but many stop at home.

The Government could have raised money from other sources. I feel sorry for some people, but I am willing to tax them a little. I do not suppose that my colleagues will ever make me Chancellor of the Exchequer, but one never knows. However, it is doubtful. The Government could raise a great deal of money by taxing people with two swimming pools. If that did not raise enough, why not tax people with one swimming pool? I am willing to pay my share. I would not object to that. I have a bath. A number of years ago we only had a tin bath that used to hang outside. Due to the local council we have a good council house with a nice bath. I will support the taxing of swimming pools. That is one simple way—

Mr. Golding

Conservative Members would describe their pools as bird baths if a tax was introduced. They would evade the tax in that way.

Mr. Welsh

I am sure that they would. It would have to be written into the legislation that that was not the case and that bird baths could be only six yards by 12 yards. The Government could tax Members of Parliament who have more than one job. That would be very nice. I am trying to obtain money for the Government from sources other than from bingo, so that they can spend £33.7 million every day on arms. That is what it is about. I am trying to think of that. I am trying to help. That would be another way to raise money rather than by imposing taxes on the working class.

I wish to end with a brief statement. Many people who play bingo do so not because they want to win money—I pay for my wife; I do no know whether she wins—but because they want to get away from the four walls that surround them. That is why they go out. It helps to keep them in good health, with a sound mind and able to enjoy their life at home within those four walls cooking dinner for their husbands when they come home from the pit and the kiddies coming home from school. It keeps them on the correct level. That is what bingo is about. It is an important part of the lives of many in the North of England, if not in the South. I am disappointed that a Government with a Prime Minister who happens to be a lady should want to tax bingo when the majority of the players are ladies. I ask the Chancellor to reconsider the proposal. If he wants additional revenue, he should obtain it from a source that does not make bingo players suffer.

4.40 am
Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

I much enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh), He brought home to me the story about the MP's wife. Someone asked her "What is it like being an MP's wife?" She replied "I see my husband for only an hour a week, but it soon passes." My hon. Friend brought home to us the problems that Members of Parliament suffer. I criticise the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, because he did not refer directly to the sort of people who are to be punished by the Government and their hard-hearted attitude.

The Royal Commission on gambling went into great detail on bingo clubs. I know that the House will not mind if I quote from it extensively because it is clear that the Chief Secetary to the Treasury has never played bingo in his life. The report stated that the witnesses who appeared before it, including those who were … critical of the clubs, agreed that they fulfil a valuable social function in relieving loneliness and boredom. Nearly 85 per cent. of those who play bingo are women. It introduces an element of pleasant diversion into their lives. The report adds that they were mostly middle aged or elderly, and many of whom are of limited means. The members of the Royal Commission visited many of the bingo clubs and gained a generally favourable impression. They provide places where people can meet sociably at very little expense since charges for … play are modest, staking can be kept low, most of the stake money can be … recouped in prizes, refreshments are cheap, and the intervals between play provide plenty of opportunity for chatting with neighbours … the players know each other and are often known to the management. This part of the social fabric of Britain is what the Government are trying to destroy.

There are nearly 6 million registered bingo players in the clubs. Every day half a million of them turn up to play bingo. What publicity do they get? What mention is there in the papers? If half a million turned up to watch football league we would hear all about it on "Match of the Day" and from Jimmy Hill. There would be talk of transfer fees and there would be three pages in every newspaper every day about football. At Wimbledon, where only about one in 100 of the spectators play tennis, there has only to be some swearing on the court and immediately there are headlines, and a tremendous pressure group is formed. We hear so much about all the middle-class sports and pursuits and all the male-dominated sports. So many interests and hobbies attract massive public interest. Poor old bingo is the exception. That is because it is supported by middle-aged ladies who play bingo so that they may enjoy a pleasant night out. They know exactly how much it will cost them and sometimes they can bring some of their money back with them.

I talked to a lady of about 60 years of age only recently. I asked her why she played bingo and she replied "It is the only place I know where I can have a night out without taking my coat off. I do not have to put my best frock on before I can go." Perhaps the lady to whom I spoke is rather like the wife of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley. She told me that she could sit down and relax and talk to her friends. It is a simple, harmless pastime.

Bingo does not have a lobby group to support it. It does not have a trade union with sponsored Members to defend its interests of the sort to which some hon. Members belong. The bingo players do not have expensive lunches provided for them. They are not wined and dined. Unlike MPs, they are not invited to lunch at the Savoy or the Mirabelle restaurant to campaign against the increased tax. That is why we are here. That is what happened.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend will remember the lobbyists outside the doors of the Committee Room when the Finance Bill was being discussed in Standing Committee.

Mr. Ashton

Exactly. They wanted to know every detail of every clause and every loophole. They became aware of everything that could be used to extract some cash from the taxpayer for their benefit.

When we had the original debate on 20p per gallon on petrol, there was understandably a revolt from the country areas. Pressure was put on the Tory Members of Parliament. I thought for once that the Government would capitulate and at least that it would climb down like my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) did on his petrol tax during the Lib-Lab pact when he wanted to put 5p on petrol but withdrew it because of Back Bench pressure.

However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not climb down; he knocked 10p off derv. That was because the lobbyists had put on pressure. All the Conservative Members who are farmers wanted a cut in the derv they used for their tractors, for heating their greenhouses for commercial use and for their boats and fishing vessels. They got the pay-off. Where are they this morning? There is not a sign of them. Not a single soul is here. They know that they can stick the tax on to the tobacco of the pensioner who smokes a pipe and on to bingo played by middle-aged ladies, many of whom will not know that they are paying extra tax. All that will happen next week is that the jackpot will be reduced from £100 to £90 or the admission fee will go up by 10p in the pound. The cash will have been siphoned away from those silent middle-aged ladies who cause no one any trouble into the hands of the farmers and the landed gentry.

There have been plenty of opportunities to raise the taxes. Let us consider the upper-class pleasures of the last week or two. At Ascot two weeks ago, 3,000 lobsters, 11 cwt of fresh salmon, 1,500 punnets of strawberries and enough caviare to fill the Dispatch Box were consumed. All that went down the throats of the well heeled. At Wimbledon on Saturday some people paid £600 for a centre court ticket. At the same time, nearly 3 million unemployed are having to cause riots in the streets to draw attention to their plight. All the time the only thing that the Government can offer is to tax bingo. What an admission it is that they have to come grovelling and scrambling for £25 million, taking it off the bingo ladies to take 10p off derv and on to the landed gentry.

When did we see the farmers in the dole queue? When did we see them lining up and begging for work? It is about the one section of the community which has not suffered much in the depression. The farmers have perhaps sold a few less potatoes for school dinners and perhaps some of the meat has had to be used for sausages instead of steak, but, generally speaking, they are not doing badly. Therefore, the Government give them a bit more and take it from the people who can afford it least.

The report of the gaming board makes illuminating reading. It is obvious that it has never been read by the Minister. Bingo is not a lottery but a game. It is not gambling on horses. All the stake money goes back to the players. It provides a socially useful function as the big buildings which used to be cinemas, which would otherwise stand derelict with the windows smashed in and would be full of rats and gradually fall into decay, are kept open because a chain such as Mecca organises bingo. The admission fee pays for heating and lighting. There is an 18 per cent. profit, which is not excessive, although it is very nice. There are 1,600 clubs with nearly 6 million members and half a million members playing every day.

The Government pick on that section of the community because those people cannot answer back. They do not have the power of a trade union, they do not get publicity in the newspapers, and they cannot afford to employ experts. That does not apply to Mecca, of course. The tax will not affect it. It will merely pass it on. The players cannot afford to put pressure on the Treasury to make it change its mind.

For two months before the Budget, everyone puts pressure on the Chancellor. A month before the Budget, every hour, on the hour, a civil servant pushes a trolley through his office. The Chancellor looks up, then carries on with his work, and the civil servant goes out of the door. The replies to all the letters read "The Chancellor has seen your submission, and he would like me to say that it is being taken into consideration."

Mr. Austin Mitchell

My hon. Friend is right about the pressure group tactics at Budget time. The only folk who do not get a look-in are the other Cabinet Ministers.

Mr. Ashton

My hon. Friend is right. The Budget proposals are bounced through them. Looking at their faces last Thursday afternoon, I doubt whether they knew anything. It was a shock to everyone, but it did not last. Hon. Members on the Government Benches realised that bingo and one-armed bandits did not affect them. They may go down Curzon Street playing baccarat or blackjack, but they do not go to the miners' institute in my area to play bingo. Conservative Members do not realise the benefits that accrue from bingo. The miners' institutes in my area or in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley do not make a profit. They do it for the members, particularly the older ones. Every Christmas they hand out cash, bags of coal, turkeys and chickens to pensioners and the disabled. They take the elderly away for trips to the seaside. They take kids on outings. They lay out bowling greens and help pigeon organisations. The profits from bingo at the miners' institutes provide tremendous social amenities, which should come from the rate support grant, which the Government are cutting and thereby denying those amenities. Now they are taxing bingo, and 6 million people will suffer simply because the Government have run out of ideas.

For instance, the Government could consider taxing fox hunting, a tax which would be immensely popular. I guarantee that an opinion poll would show that 98 per cent. of the public would vote to tax fox hunting. Those people can afford the tax. Look what it costs to be a master of hounds. Perhaps a future Labour Chancellor will consider that it would be a popular tax. However, the Government have not considered it, and once again the silent ladies of the bingo will have to cough up.

We must pay attention to the scope of bingo. I declare an interest. I write for the Daily Star. Much of what have said is already in print. The Daily Star discovered that people play bingo and started giving away free bingo cards. Its circulation shot up 50 per cent. in six months because it is a good, sound Labour paper and because it gave away bingo cards. Its circulation was 1 million last Christmas and 1½ million by June. It frightened The Sun so much that it had to introduce big cash prizes to compete. The Daily Star is the one paper that realises the extent of working-class interest in bingo and fights for the working class.

I was fed up last week with Wimbledon, McEnroe, superbrats and all that stuff hour after hour on television and on the radio from two o'clock in the afternoon. It drove people barmy. The same applies to the test match and the world cup. It is saturation. There is no chance of a bingo cup final at Wembley, because if anyone at the back shouted "House" the caller would never hear.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

If anybody shouted "House'', the Secretary of State for the Environment would rush in to cut it.

Mr. Ashton

Or 10 people would run in shouting "Where?" I am wearing myself out making all these jokes, but I seem to be getting no response at all from the Government. However, let us return to those 6 million poor middle-aged ladies.

The way in which the Government have introduced this is disgraceful. The Minister muttered something to the effect that if the turnover was £1,000 per week people would have to start paying the tax. I hope that he will be probed a great deal more on this, as I think that it would be very easy to dodge the tax. If they paid out £950 and a free washing machine or a portable television instead of £1,000 in cash, would that be covered? Will all these things be taken into account? There are ways and means of dodging every kind of tax. Perhaps bingo should be played only for gifts, as it often is, like the generation game on the television.

Mr. Allen McKay

We could have mobile duty-free bingo played at sea outside the three-mile limit.

Mr. Ashton

My hon. Friend raises great possibilities. Let us consider some of the enterprise zones that the Tories have introduced. I have been to Las Vegas, not because I am gambler. If one keeps away from the gambling, Las Vegas is the finest value for money in the world. One can eat as much superb food as one likes for about $1.50 and see fine entertainers, all run on a form of bingo-type game known as "keno" which is shown on a big board.

We should consider, too, the profits that could be made if bingo were nationalised. Why should Mecca and the rest have the profits? If the Government said that they could use the 18 per cent. profit to build a few hospitals, give a few discounts to pensioners or give cheap or free television licences, that would be a different matter. The BBC might use it to cover licence cuts. For a Front Bench with a bit of initiative, the opportunities are unlimited, but Conservative Front Benchers have no initiative. They just want to slap on the tax, pick up the cash and let someone else do the work and pay out the money.

This is the outcome of switching the tax from derv which began three months ago. An analysis should be made of Budgets and how changes take place and taxes are switched. There is an old saying in my part of the world, "If at first you don't succeed, cry louder". That is what happens here. The ones who yell the most tend to get what they are after. We saw it all the way in the last Budget. The farmers on the Conservative side, most of whom never declare their interest, just stand up and say that the derv tax will bankrupt the farmers. I can never understand why members of the Cabinet are allowed to have farms. There was a rule at one time that a member of the Cabinet could not hold stocks or shares, could not have an outside job and could not have any kind of interest. This never applies to farmers. About 11 of the present Cabinet members have farms. If they were men of principle, every one of them would have abstained from voting on the reduction of derv duty. They are not actually here tonight, of course. They are all paired and in bed. Those 11 rich farm-owning members of the Cabinet have knocked lop off derv and taken it from the old ladies in my constituency who toddle down to the bingo hall for their one little bit of pleasure.

It is time we got the bingo vote organised. Six million is about half the Conservative vote at the last election. Many bingo players voted Tory last time. The Government are attacking the working-class Tories again. They will get their comeuppance in Warrington. No doubt Mr. Stan Sorell is going round all the bingo halls in Warrington saying what is happening to taxes and how the Conservatives have cut them, kept their promises and delivered what they said they would deliver. In fact, they have not cut anything; they have switched the taxes on to such items as school dinners, bingo, bus fares, rents and rates—everything that bites on the working class. They have kept the taxes away from their nine or ten farmer friends in the Cabinet who have done very well out of being in the Government.

My hon. Friends should oppose the motion as strongly as they can, because it is an imposition on the poorest, weakest part of the working class. It has been badly handled, badly done, and we should resist it all the way.

5.1 am

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

The first time I played what was then called tombola was on a troopship coming from the Middle East. It was very popular in the Navy and on the troopships.

I agree with my hon. Friends who have said that what is proposed is another tax on the poor. The Tories do not cut taxes; they switch them from direct to indirect taxation. The motion is another part of the policy. It can be described as Robin Hood in reverse—robbing the poor to give to the rich.

People who go to bingo halls are working-class men and women and old-age pensioners. One does not have to hire a top hat or tails to go to bingo halls, or wear floppy hats as women do at some of the racecourses, such as Ascot. Those who play bingo are miners' wives, not millionaires' wives; shipbuilders' wives, not shipowners' wives. The motion will hit the people who have been hit since 1979, when the present Government were elected.

Old-age pensioners go to bingo halls for company. You know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because you come from our area, that bingo is very popular there. For many people, going to bingo is a social occasion. They go not to gamble but to meet their friends, possibly once a week. It is a social service. We have heard about the Secretary of State for the Environment cutting back on local government expenditure. The motion will hit the pensioners, because if they cannot go to bingo regularly the local authority will have to provide more home helps and other visitors to the elderly.

Some people have already been hit by the fact that this Government changed the Social Security Act 1975 under which old-age pensions were to rise in line with prices or wages, whichever were higher. The first thing that the Government did was to do away with that indexation. Moreover, because they miscalculated by 1 per cent., the Government also decided that those old-age pensioners who will be hit by a tax on bingo would get 1 per cent. of their pensions clawed back this November.

We should not forget that many handicapped people play bingo. In this International Year of Disabled People, this Government are taxing bingo, a game greatly enjoyed by disabled people.

Other people who play bingo and occupy their minds doing so are the unemployed. The only pleasure that many unemployed people get in the week is to go to the bingo hall or the working men's club and play bingo with their wives. Where I live we have the highest regional percentage of unemployment in the country. There are areas in the North and North-East where there is a tremendous amount of hidden unemployment. But conditions have changed since before the war. When the Jarrow march took place in the 1930s, unemployed people were to be seen standing about on street corners, and their pleasure in those days was to go to the pit heap to play pitch and toss. I do not know whether my hon. Friends know the game. Pennies are tossed into the air, and people gamble in a very small way on the result. That was one of the enjoyments before the war when we had mass unemployment, much as we do today.

We had much the same philosophy from the Government at that time. It was the philosophy of the open market and free competition. But if we talk about competition it must be said that this motion also shows the inconsistency of the Government, because they are attacking working men's clubs which, in the North, have been instrumental in keeping down beer prices because of the competition which they represent to the private breweries. The motion again will hit working men's clubs and the people who frequent them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) spoke about illegal bookmaking during the debate on the previous motion. This motion will give rise to illegal bingo games, because people will not go to places where they have to pay tax. They will go to private houses and small halls to play bingo illegally. Illegal bookmaking was very common when I was a youngster. Down the back lane there was always a bookmaker. It used to be illegal on an almost official basis. The police knew that a bookmaker was in a certain back lane. They had a list, and the bookmakers knew when they were due to be copped and fined. That is just what will happen to bingo. There will be illegal bingo playing.

The Government will achieve nothing by this motion, but they will be consistent with what they have done since they were elected. This motion will switch taxes; it will not cut taxes. It is totally wrong to suggest that the Government have cut taxes. All that they have done is to switch taxes. There is more tax revenue collected now than there was when this Government were elected.

When Conservatives go round Warrington or wherever telling the people who were misguided enough to vote for them in 1979 that they will cut taxes and open up competition, I hope that electors will realise that this proposal does precisely the opposite. It increases taxation by switching it to people who cannot afford to pay it—the people who have been hit by every piece of legislation introduced by this Government. Last year, we had two Social Security Acts. This year they introduced a Bill to claw back 1 per cent. of the old-age pension in November. They propose to take 24p and 37p off old-age pensioners this November because of a miscalculation last year. At the same time, they will be taxing the only bit of pleasure that old-age pensioners have.

This is what we are getting from the present Government. But it is nothing new, and I am surprised that anyone should suggest that their proposal tonight is any different from what they have come up with since they were elected in 1979. Unemployment has gone up. In my constituency it has increased tremendously. I shall not discuss percentages, because nothing annoys me more than to hear people talking about unemployment in percentage terms. I have been unemployed on numerous occasions for long periods. It is not so long ago that I was unemployed and signing the book. One is so trusted that the pencil that one signs the book with is tied to the book with a length of string so that one and a half inches of pencil is not stolen. That is the sort of trust that one receives.

I do not give percentages when I am talking about the unemployed, because if one is unemployed one is 100 per cent. unemployed. It is no consolation to have the employment officer tap one on the shoulder and say "I have good news for you. This week you are one of only 12 per cent., whereas last week you were one of 13 per cent.". Unemployment has increased tremendously because of the Government's attitude to trade unions. They were under the impression that trade unions were far too powerful, so, since 1979, they have systematically—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to bingo duty.

Mr. Dixon

I have strayed slightly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but many trade unionists play bingo and that is their only pleasure during the week. Many trade unionists frequent working men's clubs, which will be affected by the tax.

I accept that I have digressed slightly in speaking about unemployment, but it is important because the unemployed will be affected by the unnecessary tax being introduced tonight. The amount of tax we shall raise is nothing compared with the amount we shall spend. On Wednesday we shall be discussing the expenditure of £5,000 million on Trident missiles, whereas now we are talking about taking £25 million to £35 million in tax from people who cannot afford it and who go to bingo for company and for an evening out.

I hope that the Government will have second thoughts, although I know that they will not. The Opposition must oppose the measures. The motion on bingo is the worst of the motions. It will hit the old-age pensioners, the sick, the handicapped and the unemployed. It is alarming that hon. Members on the Conservative Benches have not been here for a considerable time, but my hon. Friends have sat here all night and have participated in serious debate. It is not a case of trying to waste time, because since I was elected to the House I have never joined the word club—never use one word when six will do.

My right hon. and hon. Friends have spoken from the heart and have said things that required saying. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) mentioned lobbies. There is no lobby for these people. We have had no circular but we have had letters and other correspondence on virtually every issue but this. No one has circulated me. I do not know whether my hon. Friends have had deputations or circulars.

At the weekend I was at the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell). On Saturday afternoon, after the successful unemployment demonstration in Cardiff, we went to the picture hall in Nant-y-Moel. If it had not been for the local authority taking the initiative and changing that theatre to a place where old-age pensioners and various clubs could play bingo, that hall would have been like the hall that I passed. One day, after floods, the hall collapsed and it lay empty for a considerable time. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw said, many of the cinemas have remained, but the youngsters would have gone in and broken the windows and so on. This hall is not like that. I do not remember the name of the village, but my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore knows it.

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

Ogmore Vale.

Mr. Dixon

The building had collapsed. It had remained in that state for quite sortie time. Had that building been taken over by someone for a friendly game of bingo, it would have been maintained. It would now be standing and would not be in its present derelict state.

It is important that local communities should take over buildings such as that so that they may be maintained in reasonable order and used to give pleasure to people who want to attend, mark their numbers and shout "House" when they have the correct numbers on their cards.

At one time everyone said that bingo was on the wane. I thought that bingo was a phase that would pass. The only time when it seemed people wanted to play the game was when I played it on a troopship in the Mediterranean because there was nothing else to do. But bingo has caught on. Indeed, its popularity has increased. Virtually every national newspaper now features bingo, as does every local newspaper. At one time, people turned to the back page of a newspaper to have a look at the racing results. Now they look at the bingo numbers, get out their bingo cards and mark them each day.

That is why it is wrong for the Government to introduce this sort of tax, which hits ordinary working-class people who do not ask for a great deal. That is fortunate: I am surprised that they do not ask for more. They seem to be quite happy as long as they can have a pint and a game of bingo. They do not go out looking for aggro. I am not suggesting that each time we read about a regressive policy introduced by the Government we should fill the sandbags and hump our rifles over the top.

There is no doubt that the time will come when the British people will not be prepared to accept the sort of legislation that the Government have introduced time and again. Eventually people will say "Enough is enough. We shall not accept any more of this sort of taxation." This motion seeks to raise a tiny amount of revenue compared with total revenue. The Government have introduced these motions, yet they do not even know whether the revenue will be raised. If they had any sense at all, and before introducing such measures, they would sort out the dispute with the civil servants. I recently read in a newspaper that about £3,500 million has not been collected because of the Civil Service dispute.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

It is more than that.

Mr. Dixon

I accept that, but it is now more than a week since I saw that figure mentioned in the newspaper. At that time, the uncollected revenue because of the dispute was estimated to be £3,500 million. If the Government want to raise money, all they have to do tomorrow is to get the civil servants round the table and settle the dispute. Then immediately the income will come in. They will be getting in the income tax and the VAT that has not been collected since the beginning of the dispute many weeks ago.

That is how the Government should get revenue, and not by hitting miners' wives, shipbuilders' wives, old-age pensioners, the handicapped, the sick and the unemployed, who like to have a modest game of bingo. As I have said, if the Government want revenue, they can get it easily tomorrow by settling the Civil Service dispute. That is what they should be doing, instead of bringing in regressive legislation which is hitting the people whom we represent—and, incidentally, hitting the very people from whom the Tory Government claim that they got their votes at the general election. The Tories claim to have received 3 million working-class votes at the last general election. They have got to get a considerable proportion of the working-class vote, because it is the majority. The only way that that vote can be gained is by conning the working class.

But the people now recognise that they have been misled by the Government. The people of Warrington will not be fooled. They have seen what the Government have been doing for the last two years. Therefore, they have an advantage over all the other constituencies which voted in 1979. I have no doubt that the people of Warrington will take note of the legislation that the Government have put through since 1979.

I hope that my hon. Friends will force a Division. I hope that Conservative Members will go back to their constituencies and visit the bingo halls. Incidentally, they are very fond of doing it during an election. It is impossible then to get into a bingo hall, because every working men's club secretary is inundated with requests from Tory candidates to appear at the clubs and bingo halls. But I have no doubt that none of them will be going back this weekend to tell the people at the bingo halls and the working men's clubs that the Government have increased the tax from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent. in order to get back part of the money that they have given to farmers by reason of lowering the taxation on derv by 10p.

I hope that some of my hon. Friends will also be able to make their constituency points in the debate.

5.23 am
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

The House will be indebted to at least two of the speakers in the debate tonight, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Welsh), who very effectively put the case for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of working men and women. Many of us would find it difficult to put the case as effectively as he put it. As my hon. Friend was talking, I was thinking of people in my own working men's clubs. Although they will not be directed affected by the legislation as it stands, we are informed that the Minister is further considering their position. Perhaps at a later stage some form of legislative change will be introduced affecting them.

I was thinking of people in my constituency who will not be aware of what the Government have done in the Budget and who were deceived by the Conservatives at the time of the last general election when they went to the country with the simple proposition that, if a Conservative Government were elected, taxes would be reduced. We have found, over the last two years, that this was a lie. It was a lie perpetrated up and down the country by Conservative candidates who deceived people into voting for a Government who recognised, privately, that they would have to increase taxation to pay for the programme that they planned.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

What my hon. Friend says is correct. Will he not accept that in this situation one tax leads to another? Before the House tonight are two tawdry proposals, each depending on the other. If the Government are to increase the tax on bingo, they will have to try, as a sop to aggrieved bingo hall proprietors, to extend the taxation to games in licensed clubs and other premises that are not covered. One silly tax leads to an even sillier tax.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend is correct. The Government have only to be reminded of areas that may exist into which they can introduce taxation and they will seize them eagerly. They have to pay the bills that stem from the failure of their economic policy. Hon. Members who were committed at the time of the last election not to increase taxation are now looking desperately for areas where they can apply new taxes.

Many hon. Members feel a sense of despair that a number of debates should have been truncated by the Government, who were embarrassed by the arguments of my hon. Friends. If only the debates could have been transmitted nationally on television, even in a truncated form, or on radio, they would have grieved many people. It is sad that very little of the debates will be heard by our constituents, including those of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who represents a constituency in the Northern region. Many of his constituents will be bingo players, smokers or those who enjoy gaming in one form or another. They will never be aware of the statements made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman about their activities in this debate.

Mr. Mitchell

It is worth making the point that, because of the insulting and contemptuous manner in which the Chief Whip moved the closure, only four hon. Members were able to contribute to an extremely important debate on taxation of betting, on which many of my hon. Friends have strong feelings.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Considering the time provided in Committee and the fact that the Government are introducing changes involving a great deal of revenue, one would have thought that hon. Members would at least have been given the opportunity to participate in greater numbers. Many millions of pounds will be voted to the Government tonight. That money will not have been subject to the full scrutiny of the House. It will have been subject to a reply to an oral question on the Floor of the House last week and a debate in which many hon. Members will not be able to participate due to legislation before the House tonight which, I understand, incenses people to an even greater extent. I refer to the Lords amendments to the British Telecommunications Bill, to which, my hon. Friends inform me, very great exception—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is being led astray. He should be discussing the bingo duty.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I shall return directly to the subject of bingo duty. Conservative Members are probably dotted all over the Palace of Westminster, in chairs or in flats within the Division Bell area, hoping that the Bell is long delayed. By agreement with the Chief Whip, a number of Tory Members were permitted—and I use that word advisedly—to vote against the tobacco measure. Does the same apply to bingo duty?

It is significant that whenever sensitive debates take place Government Whips allow Conservative Members to vote against the Government—but they are always hon. Members with marginal seats. The record of Tory Members who have been allowed to break their Whip and vote against the Government shows that they are from marginal seats and able to go back to their constituencies, in a blaze of publicity, to make out that they have held their own Government to ransom and threatened them with defeat.

That does not deceive us, although many hon. Members are unaware of such activities. The local press in marginal constituencies makes it clear that agreement has been reached with the Whips.

Mr. Straw

That is certainly true in North-East Lancashire. The same hon. Members who go in for token votes against the Government give their full-hearted support to the Government's main economic and social policies. In censure debates they are with the Government.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

In the last two years Government Members have voted against the Government and then gone back to their constituencies to deceive their constituents about their real endeavours.

Mr. Cunliffe

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will refer to bingo and not pursue the divergence.

Mr. Cunliffe

I shall follow your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) mentioned peculiarities arising out of the habits developed by North-East Lancashire Members. Hundreds of thousands of textile women workers are regular devotees of bingo.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I spent some time living in Lancashire before I was blessed with the opportunity of living in Workington. Many textile and shoe workers in the Rossendale Valley, where I lived, and in Bury and Bolton enjoy bingo.

The Chief Secretary referred scathingly to a reference by the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer who talked of the response that we made to the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day. The Chief Secretary implied that it was irresponsible of us to suggest that fine tuning of the economy was not in order, but he grossly misunderstood the subtle but important point that we have been making. As the Government overshot the PSBR target by £4½ billion last year, it seems incredible that they should seek to redress a revenue shortfall of about £80 million this year. If the Government were willing to overshoot by so much last year, why is it so important to redress the imbalance caused by the Conservative Back-Bench revolt over the tax on derv? The Government's proposal is a gross over-reaction, following last year's gross under-reaction.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is preoccupied with the PSBR. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) has tried to explain to the Government that the effects on the economy of an obsessive belief in monetary targets and the need to define a precise PSBR may unsettle the social fabric of the nation. Leaving aside the bitterness that stems from demonstrations such as those at Brixton, Southall and Toxteth and the difficulties in people's relationship with the forces of law and order in inner cities, one can say that the demonstrations of recent weeks stem from the Government's lack of flexibility. They must show flexibility and realise that they cannot pursue their monetarist strategy obsessively, because it will unsettle the economy and the social fabric and may bring down the Government.

I do not believe that Governments should be brought down by social anxiety and demonstrations in the streets. The Opposition are committed to parliamentary democracy, but that can survive only if the Government are willing to respond to the needs of the nation. When dogma is put before flexibility, our commitment to democratic principles may have to give way to something that none of us wishes to see.

The Minister has failed to understand how vindictive the bingo duty is towards the large numbers affected by it. I do not play bingo. I have never enjoyed watching it being played. However, I understand that a large number of people get a great deal of enjoyment from it. When listening to my hon. Friends' comments and the comments of those who play bingo, one senses that the Government—perhaps because of the construction of Conservative men and women—fail to understand the importance of bingo in working-class culture.

It is hard to put the case as well as some hon. Members have in the debate tonight. The Chief Secretary, who hides behind his pieces of paper, would have done well to have listened closely to the comments—

Mr. Golding

Does my hon. Friend realise how wise he is, as a Member of Parliament, not to play bingo in his constituency? While losing may cause some discomfort, the fear of shouting "House" when visiting a club as a stranger is so great as not to be undertaken by most mortals.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend takes me further down a certain route. In the main, constituents of Labour Members will pick up the bill. Yet Conservative Members set off the rebellion on derv. I wonder whether Conservative Members, many in the marginal seats, who caused their Whips such great difficulty were aware that their constituents would have to pick up the bill. Many Conservative Members in marginal seats were under intense pressure from industries in their constituencies. Our constituents are being asked to pay the price.

We presume that the suggested increase was a political decision and not simply Treasury officials putting forward a series of options. Either the Financial Secretary or the Chief Secretary must have gone to the Chancellor with options, perhaps calculated in the same way as the Prime Ministers of the early sixties used to make calculations that led to the then Budget strategy. Were the Government fully aware of the impact on the constituents of Conservative Members in the marginal seats?

Conservative Members were subject to pressure from industries in their constituencies. When they came to the Chief Secretary to ask for changes on derv, did they make suggestions about where the revenue could be raised? We have had a number of interventions from the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne), who suggested that in part the revenue could be raised from gaming duties. He did not refer specifically either to increased duty on tobacco tax or on bingo. Perhaps he deliberately avoided doing so. Perhaps other suggestions were made by Conservative Members who were supporting the rebellion. Perhaps the Chief Secretary will say what other suggestions were made. We are entitled to know what thoughts went through the Government's mind. It might help the debate considerably if we knew what other options were open to us.

The reduction of the increased duty on derv led to the series of increases set out on the Order Paper and was most important to the national economy. Despite that reduction taking place, the total cost to industry of the Government's tax increase on derv exceeded the total value of the energy package that was introduced by the Secretary of State for Energy earlier this year. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman was aware of that.

There has been considerable comment in the Northern region about this factor. It may be that in the South the overall effect of the increased duty on derv announced in the Budget, which was reduced, and the concessions contained in the energy package led to an overall benefit for companies. However, that was not the position in the Northern region. The majority of companies in the North have to pay higher costs for the distribution of their products than do companies in the South. The effect of the energy package was insufficient to cover the additional costs.

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman next discusses these matters with the Secretary of State for Energy, I hope that he will ensure that his right hon. Friend is made more aware than I was able to make him of the extra costs to which industry in the North has been subjected. The right hon. and learned Gentleman represents a Northern constituency, as does the Government Chief Whip. We feel that the case of industry in the North is not being put adequately and is not understood by the Government.

The effect of the increased duty on bingo is to penalize many of our constituents. I draw the attention of the House to the comments of an executive of Mecca Ltd., one of the large national bingo hall operators. He said that the increase in the duty on bingo does not come from us but from the Ordinary person's winnings. Mr. Barry Anderson, the operations director of Mecca Social Clubs, said, 'People only have so much to spend. Takings at bingo halls had already been dipping in line with the recession'". He added that winnings, which could be between £200 and £2,000 at the clubs, were still an important part of what was now a full evening's entertainment offered by Mecca. The provisions mean that anyone who once took home £100 in winnings will get only £90 this month.

It is not only my right hon. and hon. Friends who are drawing attention to the dilemma that faces our constituents. It is being done by those in the industry. They understand fully the effect of these measures because they are able to gauge the national downturn in bingo activity. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is showing great insensitivity to the nature of bingo clubs, certainly as Mr. Anderson of Mecca would inform us and as has been described by a number of my hon. Friends.

Bingo clubs and organisations in many of our constituencies and places where people play bingo are centres of social activity. For many people they are the only place where they can go during the week and meet other people without spending vast sums of money. They cut back the loneliness and anxiety which comes about particularly during this period of unemployment and recession. For many elderly people particularly, they are of great importance. I am sure that the constituency of the Chief Secretary is the same as my constituency, where there are a number of those clubs and organisations which attract people not only for the purposes of extracting money from them but to provide them with a service. In many ways, bingo organisations operate as a social service—

Mr. Allen McKay

My constituency is a vast rural area of about 140 to 150 square miles. There are many urban authorities in the area, which is fair enough. The rural areas are being attacked in a way because most of the people's entertainment comes from the village halls, the bingo halls and such places. What the Conservatives have forgotten is that when it comes to the next general election the people who vote and who usually go to bingo will remember exactly the taxes which were put on. Will my hon. Friend take into consideration the international aspect of the matter? If the Chief Secretary were to visit Malta and visit Marsaslock, he would realise that Dom Mintoff, rather than taxing bingo, encourages it. He would find out that on two days a week—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is a long intervention. I think that the hon. Member has made his point.

Mr. McKay

I shall finish that point. The Chief Secretary will find that Dom Mintoff encourages bingo. On two days a week the whole village takes part in bingo. That is part of Dorn Mintoff's strategy for helping him in his elections.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the importance of bingo in the social life of many communities, as have many Opposition speakers. I do not know what happens in Malta, but I presume that it is for the same reasons that Dom Mintoff takes such action. It is to promote social activity. Those clubs are of vital importance to the community because in many ways they offer the social services and the organisation for them which would otherwise be provided by the State or voluntary organisations where those services do not exist.

In my constituency—I am sure that it is the same in the Chief Secretary's constituency—those organisations arrange trips for people to visit the holiday resorts of Morecambe and Blackpool, coach trips round the Lake District and to Scotland and coach and train trips to London. Those are all activities which are based on the local social club.

The social club is able to provide for itself, keep itself liquid and create the profits necessary to fund those social activities by the use of bingo. Therefore, in many ways bingo is a way of raising revenue in certain communities to provide for the social services which otherwise would have been provided by the State under a more amenable Government.

Mr. Golding

My hon. Friend has not said why the Government are so antagonistic. Is it perhaps because when the caller shouts "Number Ten, Maggie's Den", the howls of derision and opposition which come straight from the people have been observed by the Government, and the Government are determined to make certain that the people do not get adequate opportunities, as they now do, when the call "Number Ten, Maggie's Den" is shouted, to show their outright opposition to the Prime Minister and her Government?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend wishes to know why I believe the Government have picked on those people. It is simple. When a Conservative looks for sources to fund concessions for the more privileged in conditions of falling revenue and output and a collapsing economy and recession, he turns to those who can ill afford to pay. Successive Conservative Governments would have done the same had they found themselves in a corner.

This is only the beginning. Next year the Government will have to come back again with deflationary proposals.

Mr. Cook

At Question Time.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Yes. Last week a mini-Budget was introduced through an answer to an oral question to avoid the embarrassment of a mini-Budget statement, which, in fact, it was.

Next year the Government will have to extract from the taxpayer further money to fund the PSBR, which will again overshoot, as unemployment rises beyond the Government's assumptions, thus further exhausting the pool of money for supplementary and unemployment benefits and inflating the PSBR. It is a vicious, nasty, sordid little circle. Year after year, the Government will have to come back to the House to extract money from those who can ill afford it.

I wish that the Warrington by-election were on 16 July 1982. By that time the Government's ineptness and inability to tackle fundamental problems will be even more apparent. It would not be a question of only a lost deposit. No votes at all would be cast for the Government.

I asked the Chancellor last week why the Government had sought to increase taxes on bingo instead of increasing taxes on the better off by withdrawing the capital transfer tax concessions. He replied: It is difficult to understand why changes that have been described as 'trivial' by the Opposition spokesman on economic affairs should provoke such dramatic wrath from the hon. Gentleman. I was not alone in objecting. My hon. Friends gasped in astonishment at the Chancellor's statement. He went on to say, referring to me: He should understand that changes in capital transfer tax—reversing some of the measures introduced by the previous Government—form an equally important part of our policies for promoting enterprise and economic activity."—[Official Report, 2 July 1981; Vol. 7, c. 1009.]

When we were putting alternatives to the bingo, gaming, general betting and tobacco duty increases in the first debate, the Chief Secretary made some rather flippant comments about the cost of the capital transfer tax concessions. Yet we are told by the Chancellor that they are part of a policy to promote enterprise and economic activity. I wish to ask the Chief Secretary a simple question requiring a simple answer. Can he tell me, a simple soul, how the allocation of a concession on capital transfer tax to a landlord and owner of land who does not work it in any way increases enterprise, and how that, as an act of fiscal change by the Government, can influence economic activity? That was the Chancellor's justification for introducing these major concessions on capital transfer tax If the Chancellor will not answer the question. will the Chief Secretary try to do so?

No one who knows what happened in Committee on the Finance Bill and who understands the level of concessions made by the Government over the past few years on capital gains tax and capital transfer tax can understand what the link is between those concessions and the promotion of enterprise and economic activity. The right hon. and learned Gentleman might even intervene at this point, particularly as we were promoting the principle of withdrawing those concessions, to explain what the link is and the reasoning behind the concessions. I see that once again the right hon. and learned Gentleman shows no willingness or desire to come to the Dispatch Box and defend the Government's actions.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) earlier very illustratively drew attention to some of the concessions. I wish to refer directly only to those concessions which have incensed me so much—

Mr. George Foulkes (South Aryshire)

And me.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

—and, indeed, my hon. Friend—and of which we have been informed in Committee, namely, the concessions on captal gains tax. I was a member of the Committee last year, too, when the concessions included the exempt slice of £3,000 for individuals and £1,500 for trustees. That cost the Treasury £65 million last year. We are told that by the financial year 1982 that will reduce to £25 million. The cumulative effect must therefore be about £110 million or £115 million over the years mentioned.

There is also the roll-over relief for lifetime gifts—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must relate what he is saying to the motion, which is on bingo duty.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

This matter is at the heart of our case, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are saying that bingo duty, which imposes and additional burden on our constituents in working-class communities in the Northern region, could have been offset—

Mr. Golding

We are speaking not only for the Northern region but for working people everywhere in the country. This cannot be a parochial debate. We cannot confine it to the Northern region. It is important there, but it is also important in the West Midlands, the North-West and throughout the United Kingdom.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) must relate what he is saying to the bingo duty. He must not go into detail on the other matters that he has raised.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I take the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) about the need to refer to the wider problem. I often visit the Potteries, and I know that many people in my hon. Friend's constituency are equally affected.

It is only fair that hon. Members should be able to refer to individual concessions under capital transfer tax and capital gains tax that have been given to the better-off and have been paid for by raising additional revenue from bingo duty and taxes.

I should have thought that it would have been in order to refer to the capital transfer tax threshold increase introduced in last year's Finance Bill, at a cost of £125 million, and to the further capital transfer tax increase in exemption limit for charitable gifts last year, with a value of £5 million to the better-off. They will all benefit from last year's tax concession, and their benefits will be paid for out of the additional revenue raised as a result of the introduction of a higher tax on bingo.

The value of the concessions in last year's Finance Bill totalled about £200 million, to which we must add the additional revenues that are to be spent by the Chancellor on giving concessions this year. Let us take the capital gains tax settled property rules, including roll-over relief—

Mr. Mawby

This has nothing to do with the tax on bingo.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Chair will decide whether an hon. Member is in or out of order.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) will no doubt take note of your comments, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is for the Chair to decide when I am out of order.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will be one of those who will gain from other concessions in this year's Finance Bill. He may wish to intervene to tell me whether he may gain from the capital transfer tax or the capital gains tax provisions.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) will indicate his wish to intervene if he gets to his feet.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

If the hon. Gentleman indicated that he was likely to gain from these concessions on capital transfer tax and capital gains tax, I should have to tell him that we and our constituents who as a result of this motion will have to pay a higher rate of bingo duty will be paying for the concession from which he may benefit.

Mr. Foulkes

Does my hon. Friend recall that, in the Standing Committee on the Finance Bill we saw Conservative Members rise again and again declaring their interests in petroleum companies, property companies and the like and then moving amendments designed to benefit the interests which they were representing? Is not that why, understandably, my hon. Friend is giving Government supporters the opportunity to declare their interests and show how they will benefit from the other provisions in the Finance Bill while poor old-age pensioners will have to pay for their benefits by way of the increased bingo duty?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend makes an important point which led to considerable controversy during our proceedings on the Bill. At the same time as we were being required to approve additional taxation and to waive an additional tax concession, which is what the Rooker-Wise amendment would have meant this year because it would have increased the threshold and produced a concession for a great number of our constituents, it was significant that Conservative members of the Committee kept jumping to their feet to move amendments at considerable cost to the Exchequer.

There was one occasion during our proceedings, following the intervention of an hon. Member who is not present at the moment—I do not know whether he intends to be here to vote at the end of this debate—when some of us went to the Library to dig out Andrew Roth's book on Members' interests. Whilst we were studying the book, we discovered that one hon. Member was a director of a company which he said during our proceedings on the Finance Bill would not benefit directly as a result of the amendment that he was moving. He misled the Committee, because the company had benefited. The company is the London and Scottish—[Interruption.] Well, I have tried to show some courtesy. The hon. Member concerned is not here. If he was here, I should refer directly to him and give him the opportunity to defend himself. The point that we made on that occasion was never answered during the Committee stage. We made a substantial accusation based on Library documentation. The name of that hon. Member was included on the board of directors of a company which was a minor shareholder in a company which itself had sent a brief to hon. Members.

Mr. Golding

This is very interesting, but is it not possible for my hon. Friend to spell out some of the implications for the bingo player? He tells us constantly that the bingo player will pay more tax. That may not be so. Many may be forced to give up bingo, and many others will be forced to cut down from, say, two tickets to one ticket. Is my hon. Friend aware of the impact that this will have on those who produce bingo tickets, those who produce the felt pens for marking bingo cards, those who produce the general machinery for bingo and those who run the general administration of bingo—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) has made his point.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend asked me an important question which begs an answer. I shall do my best to answer him.

While I have been sitting here listening to the interesting contributions of my hon. Friends, I have taken time to study some documents about the effect of the increase in bingo duty that took place last year. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn will tell me if I am wrong. I recall that a similar increase took place last year in the Finance Bill when we were required to pass additional taxation for bingo. That had some effect on the incidence of bingo-playing nationally.

Mr. Straw

Before the last Budget, the duty was 5 per cent. It was increased to 7½ per cent. in the last Budget. Now it is 10 per cent. Thus it has doubled in the space of 15 months.

Mr. Welsh

That is disgraceful.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I do not want to dispute that with my hon. Friend, but I thought that the increase was 66⅔ per cent. Perhaps my mathematics are not as good as my hon. Friend's mathematics. I did not know that duty had doubled since the election of the Government, but I bow to the wisdom of my hon. Friend, who is a Front Bech spokesman and specialises in these matters. I am sure he will tell me if he discovers that he is wrong. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme asked me about the effect on our constituents. I wish that my constituents and his constituents could read the figures that I have here about where the duty that will be raised as a result of the measure will go.

I do not suppose that "The Financial Statement and Budget Report 1981–82" would make good reading in the bingo clubs nationally, because many people would find the Red Book, as it is called, boring material. Furthermore, not many bingo clubs could afford to pay the £4.40 that this small booklet—which, if I am not mistaken, has only 48 pages—costs. That means that each page, allowing two pages per sheet must cost about 20p, excluding the cover. Our constituent bingo players would have to pay that if they wanted to see the document. They would be interested, if they were to purchase it, to read how much had been given in concessions in the Budget this year.

In this year's Budget, capital gains tax—

Mr. Foulkes

Will my hon. Friend comment on the inflation that has taken place since 1970? Then a similar publication produced by Her Majesty's Stationery Office contained a similar number of pages and cost 3s. 6d. That will make many hanker for the old days. That is an amazing increase and illustrates the sort of inflation that has taken place in 11 years.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

If that booklet cost 17½p 10 years ago and this book costs £4.40, we must assume that the price has risen 30 times in 10 years. I cannot believe that a 30-fold increase in the cost of a publication such as that stems from natural price increases.

Could it not be that the Government are now so desperate for revenue that they are using their own publications as a means of raising revenue to pay off the substantial PSBR problem that they have generated as a result of their negligence in the management of the economy?

I was referring to the capital gains tax concession in this year's Budget which my bingo-playing constituents and those of my hon. Friends will have to pay. The capital gains tax forecast for a full year on settled property rules, including roll-over relief, will be £15 million. That is what our people are required to pay by way of this increase in bingo duty.

The capital transfer tax rules have been changed and have caused much anger among Labour Members during the last six weeks. My hon. Friends will recall a private meeting we had upstairs about seven weeks ago at the beginning of our evaluation of the Budget strategy. At that time I indicated that CTT was at the heart of the Bill. I said that what the Bill did was disgusting and that there was a duty upon us to ensure that during its proceedings, as a result of which our constituents would be required to pick up the bill, we should do everything we could to draw the nation's attention to the major concessions that have been made.

Mr. Woolmer

I am sorry that I missed the substantial part of my hon. Friend's remarks. Has he ascertained from the Government exactly how much revenue this measure will bring in? As I understand my hon. Friend's argument, the Government will collect a few pence from every bingo book in order to transfer money to the richest people so that they do not have to pay taxation on the transfer of fortunes. Is that the burden of my hon. Friend's remarks? What justification have the Government given for taking money from bingo players to pay to people who have fortunes of £500,000?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Indeed, during the Finance Bill Committee, my hon. Friend tried to extract from the Government the reason why our people were required to pick up the bill for the excesses of the Government. All these questions remain unanswered. The Chief Secretary refuses to be drawn. I have invited him on two occasions to indicate why our bingo-playing constituents must pick up the bill for the Government's economic madness.

I was elected by 54,000 people. I have spent all night awaiting the opportunity to debate this highly important matter, and I have tried to draw the Chief Secretary to the Dispatch Box to answer the question that my constituents may well ask me. Why are the Government trying to impose this burden on our constituents who play bingo?

Mr. Golding

Has my hon. Friend yet referred to the Cabinet millionaires and discussed this question against the background of the massive wealth owned by members of the Cabinet who have taken this decision?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

During the Committee stage of the Finance Bill on the Floor of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn made some interesting comments on this matter. My memory is not in the most excellent state at this early hour of the morning, but I think that my hon. Friend cited the example of the Prime Minister and her husband and the tax concessions that they would gain as a result of the Government's strategy.

I cannot remember—perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn would like to refresh my memory—the extent to which they were said to be gaining. I know that it was a substantial amount of money. But if my hon. Friend sought to intervene he would do well to comment on those substantial benefits for the Prime Minister's family, in the light of the increases that are about to be imposed upon us in the event that the motion on bingo duty gets the approval of the House. It is the increased Treasury take on bingo duty that is paying for the concessions which the Prime Minister and her husband will gain as a result of the Budget strategy.

From the reports in the newspapers it is worth noting that the Prime Minister's family is alleged to be worth several million pounds. If that is the case, surely it is wrong—indeed, it is immoral—that our constituents who play bingo should be required to pick up the bill in order to fund a concession to those people who, with all respect—I show them no antagonism—are in a better placed position in society to deal with the considerable economic difficulties that must arise in the present circumstances.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Michael Jopling)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Campbell-Savours (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I recall that the last time I saw this hat worn in the Chamber it was by you, on a point of order, about one and a half years ago. I take great exception—as, indeed, will all my hon. Friends—to the decision by the Chief Whip again to foreclose the debate.

My point of order relates to the fact that many of my hon. Friends who wished to intervene had indicated to me during the course of my speech that they wished to do so. They included my hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle-under-Lyme, for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes), for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) and for Redcar (Mr. Tin), my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) and, as all hon. Members in the Chamber will have noticed, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) had turned round, and my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) had also indicated to me that he wished to intervene and to ask questions.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I do not disagree with anything that the hon. Gentleman has said. My job is not to think only about those hon. Members who want to speak. I have to decide whether there has been adequate discussion. It is for the occupant of the Chair to decide whether to accept the closure motion. That is what he must consider. That is what I tried to do.

The House having divided: Ayes 121, Noes 19.

Division No. 251] [6.30 am
Alexander, Richard MacGregor, John
Ancram, Michael MacKay, John (Argyll)
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Major, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Marlow, Tony
Banks, Robert Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Mather, Carol
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Berry, Hon Anthony Mawby, Ray
Best, Keith Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Biggs-Davison, John Mellor, David
Blackburn, John Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Braine, Sir Bernard Moate, Roger
Bright, Graham Morgan, Geraint
Brinton, Tim Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Brittan, Leon Neale, Gerrard
Brooke, Hon Peter Neubert, Michael
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Newton, Tony
Browne, John (Winchester) Onslow, Cranley
Bruce-Gardyne, John Osborn, John
Bulmer, Esmond Page, John (Harrow, West)
Butcher, John Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Pattie, Geoffrey
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Proctor, K. Harvey
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Renton, Tim
Clegg, Sir Walter Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Colvin, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Cope, John Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Cranborne, Viscount Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Silvester, Fred
Dover, Denshore Skeet, T. H. H.
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Speed, Keith
Emery, Peter Speller, Tony
Fairgrieve, Russell Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Stainton, Keith
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Stanbrook, Ivor
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Stevens, Martin
Fookes, Miss Janet Stradling Thomas, J.
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Goodlad, Alastair Thompson, Donald
Gow, Ian Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Griffiths, E.(B'ySt. Edm'ds) Trippier, David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Viggers, Peter
Grist, Ian Waddington, David
Hamilton, Hon A. Wakeham, John
Hawkins, Paul Waldegrave, Hon William
Hawksley, Warren Walker, B. (Perth)
Heddle, John Waller, Gary
Henderson, Barry Watson, John
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Wells, Bowen
Hunt, David (Wirral) Wheeler, John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Wickenden, Keith
Kershaw, Anthony Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Lang, Ian Wolfson, Mark
Le Marchant, Spencer
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Tellers for the Ayes:
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Mr. Selwyn Gummer and
Lyell, Nicholas Mr. Robert Boscawen.
Macfarlane, Neil
Campbell-Savours, Dale Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Cowans, Harry Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Cryer, Bob Skinner, Dennis
Cunliffe, Lawrence Straw, Jack
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Welsh, Michael
Dixon, Donald Woolmer, Kenneth
Foulkes, George
Golding, John Tellers for the Noes:
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mr. James Tin and
Haynes, Frank Mr. Allen McKay.
Mikardo, Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly:

The House divided: Ayes 106, Noes 19.

Division No. 252] [6.40 am
Alexander, Richard Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Ancram, Michael Grist, Ian
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Hamilton, Hon A.
Banks, Robert Hawkins, Paul
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Hawksley, Warren
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Heddle, John
Berry, Hon Anthony Henderson, Barry
Biggs-Davison, John Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Blackburn, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Boscawen, Hon Robert Kershaw, Anthony
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Lang, Ian
Braine, Sir Bernard Le Marchant, Spencer
Bright, Graham Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Brinton, Tim Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Brittan, Leon Lyell, Nicholas
Brooke, Hon Peter Macfarlane, Neil
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) MacGregor, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Major, John
Bruce-Gardyne, John Marlow, Tony
Butcher, John Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Mawby, Ray
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Mellor, David
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Colvin, Michael Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Cope, John Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Cranborne, Viscount Moate, Roger
Dover, Denshore Morgan, Geraint
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Neale, Gerrard
Fairgrieve, Russell Neubert, Michael
Faith, Mrs Sheila Newton, Tony
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Onslow, Cranley
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Osborn, John
Fookes, Miss Janet Page, John (Harrow, West)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Goodlad, Alastair Pattie, Geoffrey
Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds) Proctor, K. Harvey
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Renton, Tim Trippier, David
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Viggers, Peter
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Waddington, David
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wakeham, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walker, B. (Perth)
Silvester, Fred Waller, Gary
Skeet, T. H. H. Watson, John
Speed, Keith Wells, Bowen
Speller, Tony Wheeler, John
Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Wickenden, Keith
Stainton, Keith Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Stanbrook, Ivor Wolfson, Mark
Stevens, Martin
Stradling Thomas, J. Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Mr. Selwyn Gummer and
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Mr. Donald Thompson
Campbell-Savours, Dale Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Cowans, Harry Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Cryer, Bob Skinner, Dennis
Cunliffe, Lawrence Straw, Jack
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Welsh, Michael
Dixon, Donald Woolmer, Kenneth
Foulkes, George
Golding, John Tellers for the Noes:
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mr. James Tin and
Haynes, Frank Mr. Allen McKay.
Mikardo, Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That, as from 27 July 1981, section 17(2) of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1972 shall have effect—

  1. (a) with the substitution for '7½ per cent.' (in both places) of '10 per cent.';
  2. (b) with the substitution for 'three thirty-sevenths' of 'one-ninth'.
And it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.