HL Deb 26 April 1967 vol 282 cc527-9

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will state, in regard to sporting and recreational organisations, both amateur and professional—

  1. (i) the amount received in Exchequer grants by these organisations in the financial year 1966–67; and
  2. (ii) the amount collected from them in the same period in selective employment tax.]


My Lord, final figures are not yet available, but according to the estimated out-turn, the total of Exchequer grants to sporting and recreational organisations in Great Britain in 1966–67 was some £2.1 million. It should also be remembered that the Exchequer contributes, through "rate support grant", more than half of all net local authority current expenditure on sport. This is a very large sum of money, although it is not possible to quantify it. I regret that it is not possible to state the amount of selective employment tax | collected from these organisations in 1966–67, since its collection through the National Insurance system precludes identification of the amount of tax paid by particular employers within particular classifications.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for his reply. Although I accept the difficulty of identifying the payment of selective employment tax in the classifications, does not the noble Lord think that this information ought to be made available? Is he aware that there is a strong impression that the Government's quite proper aim of giving financial help to sport is being defeated by the Government's own action in levying this tax on sporting organisations? May I ask the noble Lord a special question on one particular sport, and that is cricket? Will he bear in mind that county and league cricket clubs, playing six days a week, have to employ people for more than eight hours a week and pay the full selective employment tax on those people; and that this is an imposition which they are finding very hard to bear? Will he ask his right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look into the general case which I have mentioned, and the special case of cricket as well?


My Lords, I am glad the noble Lord recognises our difficulties in providing the information which he seeks. I think that in some respects the noble Lord takes rather too pessimistic a line. I see that my right honourable friend the Financial Secretary in another place gave an estimate of the effect of this tax on amateur sport, in which he said that it was perhaps less than £500,000, or that it was not likely to be in excess of £500,000. On the other hand, if one looks at the general classification of sports and amusements one sees an estimated figure of some £3 million. But if the noble Lord will look at the classification he will see that dance halls, zoos, bingo, and many other forms of amusement fall within this classification. Therefore, it is difficult to give the full figure, though I think that the noble Lord is being unduly pessimistic. I certainly take note of the noble Lord's point in regard to cricket. Representations have already been made to my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I will certainly see that the noble Lord's plea is conveyed immediately to him.


My Lords, does not this tax affect adversely professional sport as opposed to amateur sport? Why have the Government a "down" on professional sport?


My Lords, I do not think it is the Government who have a "down" on professional sport; I thought that it was the noble Lord in relation to the Sunday Entertainments Bill. This is a matter in which all bodies, whether business or amateur, must play their part within the general taxation system. Professional sport pays income tax, purchase tax, and rates; and I think that it would be wrong to exempt professional sport from the general provisions of taxation. In regard to the professional sport to which the noble Lord has drawn my attention specifically, and in which there may be some difficulty—I say "may"—I will see that that matter is brought to the attention of my right honourable friend.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his answer to my supplementary question. He said that the survey showed that amateur sport paid £500,000 in selective employment tax. Does not this mean that amateur sport will be short of £500,000-worth of financial help from the Government which the Government think they ought to have?


My Lords, on the face of it that may appear to be so, but if the noble Lord will refer to my original Answer he will see not only that a very large sum of money, some £2.1 million, has been made available by Exchequer grants, but also that a very considerable sum is made available through local authorities—and I suppose in every case this would be related to amateur sport— by way of the rate support grant.


My Lords, if county batsmen made a few more runs, might it not come into the category of manufacturing?


My Lords, when the Australians come here, I hope that that will be the case.


My Lords, do organisers of tennis tournaments pay selective employment tax on the amateurs they pay for taking part in their tournaments?


My Lords, I I should not have thought so, because I gather that amateurs do not receive an income.

Back to