HC Deb 28 February 1995 vol 255 cc544-5W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for the future of the Horserace Totalisator Board.

Mr. Howard

I have been considering the future of the Horserace Totalisator Board, the Tote. In 1991, the Home Affairs Select Committee recommended that the Tote should be vested in a racing body which was truly responsible to representative groups of all who work in the industry. In their response, the Government accepted that the position of the Tote was anomalous but accepted the Committee's view that at that time no suitable body in the racing industry existed.

There have been a number of significant developments in the racing industry since 1991 including, most significantly, the setting up of the British Horseracing Board. I therefore believe that the time is now right to take forward consideration of the Committee's recommendation. I therefore intend to review the options for the Tote in a way which preserves the extent to which racing benefits from the Tote's activities.

Any change to the Tote's status would require primary legislation. Before that, there will be full consultation on the many practical issues to be addressed with interested parties, including the Tote itself, the racing industry and bookmakers.

I intend to address all these issues in a consultation document which will be issued in the next six months.

In taking forward this process, I think it very desirable that we continue to benefit from Lord Wyatt's experience and expertise. I have therefore asked him to stay on as chairman for a further two years to enable him to contribute to the review process. This will be his last term and I would hope that by the end of his tenure a new framework for the organisation of the Tote will have been decided.

In addition, I have decided that in view of its role as the governing authority for racing in Britain, the British Horseracing Board should have its own seat on the Tote Board.