HC Deb 28 February 1991 vol 186 cc1103-4
5. Mr. McAllion

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the revenue cost to date of the reduction of pools betting tax from 42.5 to 40 per cent.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The revenue cost to the end of January 1991 was f15.25 million.

Mr. McAllion

The Minister will know that the reduction in betting taxes is for a period of five years, to coincide with the time scale within which clubs must comply with the Taylor recommendations. As the Government have agreed with the football associations in Scotland that smaller and significantly less wealthy clubs in the lower divisions may have 10 years within which to comply with Taylor, will she consider extending the time scale for reducing betting taxes so that money will be available to the Football Trust to help smaller clubs beyond the current five-year cut-off period?

Mrs. Shephard

The hon. Gentleman has a considerable interest in this matter. The ability of the smaller league clubs, not only in Scotland but in England and Wales, to meet the August 1999 deadline for all-seater stadia would, of course, be considerably strengthened if my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer extended the cut in pools betting duty, as the hon. Gentleman suggests. My right hon. Friend has said that he will be prepared to take an early decision on the matter as soon as it is clear that football is contributing on a significant scale out of its own resources to the work that needs to be done. The sooner that that commitment is made, the sooner my right hon. Friend will be able to take a decision. There is some progress, but any encouragement that the hon. Gentleman could give in Scotland and elsewhere would bring forward the date of that review.

Dr. Marek

May I partly thank the Minister for her reply, which shows that not everything ahead of us is as dark as night? Will she admit that some of the third and fourth division clubs simply cannot go ahead with safety improvements to their grounds and desperately look to the Government to provide not only an incentive but a little more so that the safety of grounds can be assured? Will she assure the House that the scheme will be prolonged to ensure that every football league ground is safe by 1999?

Mrs. Shephard

The hon. Gentleman should know that the Government help that has been promised is a generous response to the Taylor report. They will provide an initial £100 million over a period of five years for capital works to make football stadia safer. I repeat to the hon. Gentleman that the game must demonstrate its commitment to match the Government's response before my right hon. Friend can review the position.