HL Deb 27 November 2003 vol 655 cc10-1WA
Lord Hoyle

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What their plans are for the sale of the Tote. [HL64]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

The Government remain committed to the sale of the Tote, and we plan to bring forward the necessary legislative proposals very shortly.

As part of the preparations for the sale, the Government have had to consider whether the Tote's current exclusive right to offer pool betting on British horseracing should continue once it has been transferred into the private sector. We have concluded that it will be in the public interest to open up the pool betting market to effective competition, but that a reasonable preparatory period is necessary in order to safeguard the policy aims underlying the sale.

The Government have therefore decided that if our plans to sell the Tote to a racing consortium proceed, then the current intention is to issue the Tote's successor company with an exclusive licence to operate horserace pool betting on British racing for seven years.

This licence will not be extended and at the end of that period there will be a new regulatory regime that will allow other operators to provide pool betting as well.

We believe that this proposal provides necessary certainty for all concerned.