HC Deb 07 March 1996 vol 273 c448
10. Mr. Turner

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the tax laws covering bingo. [17627]

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory


Mr. Turner

As a former bingo caller, I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the serious discrimination being felt by the 3 million bingo players in this country at the 10 per cent. tax levied on their enjoyment, as against the lower rate of tax on either pools or racing. That is real discrimination. I should also like to tell him that, up and down the country, bingo callers are now calling "Blair's lair" rather than "Major's den: No. 10."

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The hon. Gentleman is being a little too gloomy about the main part of his question, and we shall certainly disappoint him on the last part. He will know from his previous occupation that most bingo clubs are owned by big chains. Their payment of bingo duty went up last year after the introduction of the national lottery, so I do not think that they can be doing too badly.

Bingo is not quite like betting on the lottery, the football pools or even on horses in a betting shop, because people do it for social and leisure reasons. Therefore, I do not think that the comparison with the lottery is exact. He will know that we are deregulating the industry to allow it to fight back against any threat from any quarter.