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Mr. Page: Indeed. I am not going to get too involved in how the money aspect should be calculated, but the Government have put no money in. They have given a de facto monopoly, which obviously has a value over the years. Equally, we must not forget that the Tote has given racing more than £100 million. Indeed, that was the very purpose of the Tote, and such money could be regarded as an effective rent over the years. As other Members have pointed out, there can be trade-offs, and the greater the cost of purchase, the less will be available for racing. We should remember that the entire object is to give money to racing.
I must congratulate the Minister on resisting the suggestionI believe that it came from my favourite organisation, the OFTof a proliferation of pool betting companies and the separate sale of Tote shops. I cannot go into that subject because of lack of time, but the suggestion shows a worrying lack of appreciation of the whole principle of Tote betting.
I am schizophrenic in these matters, as I have argued in many Standing Committees for privatisation and denationalisation. Now I am saying that we should nationalise something, but we all know that the Government intend to transform the Tote caterpillar into a state-owned chrysalis and then into the butterfly that will be the racing trust. I hope that the House is impressed by my metaphor, which I have only just thought of. Even so, that transformation is what we all want.
I shall not rehearse the arguments about what the Bill should contain in respect of licence fees and time periods, but there is no reason why the Minister should not come forward with the mechanism for the calculation of the Tote value while the Bill is proceeding through the House. After all, he has already been able to
I shall draw my remarks to a close by saying that we need to consider what will happen after the seven-year period. This Government were responsible for the dome for the year 2000, and then did not have a clue about what to do with it afterwards. I hope that the Minister will be able to say what will happen to Tote and pool betting at the end of the seven years.
I have made clear my natural concerns and reservations, but I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Minister on what he has achieved so far. I hope that the Bill successfully completes its Committee stage and becomes law as soon as possible
Mr. John Grogan (Selby) (Lab): I am delighted to contribute briefly to this debate, for three main reasons. First, there is a certain novelty value about being asked, as a Labour Back Bencher, to support a full-blown nationalisation measure, even though it is only temporary.
Secondly, Yorkshire is one of this country's great horse racing centres, with about 15 per cent. of the country's 59 courses situated there. The world's oldest horse race, the St. Leger, is held in Doncaster, and Yorkpart of which I representis looking forward to welcoming Ascot in the north in 2005. The Tote has expanded turnover at all the nine courses in Yorkshire considerably in recent years.
Like many hon. Members who have contributed to the debate, I am an active punter. I tend to do my case work on a Saturday afternoon while watching the racing on television. I inherited my love of racing from my late father, who sadly died last year. I think that he would have been very proud of the last statement of his account at William Hill's, as it showed a profit of £3.33. After a lifetime's gambling, that is a considerable achievement.
Horse racing in Britain punches well above its weight. If one goes into a betting shop in Hong Kong, Singapore or Brussels, it is likely that one will end up watching racing from Wetherby, Sedgefield, Doncaster or somewhere else in Britain.
My third reason for wanting to make a brief contribution to this debate arises from the Bill's association with the Olympics and the establishment of the Olympic lottery fund. I was one of only two Yorkshire Members who belonged to the all-party Commonwealth games group a couple of years ago. The games held in Manchester were a great success, for the north of England and for the whole of the country. That success gave us the confidence to make a credible Olympic bid for the year 2012. The effects of the Commonwealth games were felt in my constituency of Selby, which twinned with the Cook Islands. Before the games started, a bowling match was held between teams from the Cook Islands and Selby. The event was won by Selby's finest, and will be remembered for many years.
I want to make four points about the Tote aspects of the Bill. First, the Tote has always had a dual purpose. We have heard a lot about funding, sponsorship and prize money in racing, and a good deal about providing a fair deal for punters. We need to think about the origins of the Tote. We have heard about the Racecourse Betting Act 1928, which, incidentally, was a private Member's Bill promoted by Major Glyn. Winston Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, replied to the debate. Much of the impetus was the determination to provide a fair deal for punters, and I hope that that will not be lost under the new set-up. Punters' interests must be represented on the racing trust.
My second point is to recognise the opposition of the bookmakers. That is nothing new. The betting industry was greatly opposed to the establishment of the Tote in 1928. Winston Churchill's reply was, basically, "Tough". Clearly it would create competition for the bookmakers of the day and, equally, today, selling the Tote to the racing industry reinforces such competition. However, the betting industry might be protesting too much. It has not had a bad deal in recent years. When the Bill was introduced in 1928, the betting duty had just been brought in. Now, of course, it has been abolished. There has been massive potential for expansion of the major bookmakers in recent years, and I believe that they should accept the overwhelming consensus that the Tote should go to the racing industry.
My third point about the sale of the Tote is that the racing industry faces a great challenge to get its act together. The Home Affairs Committee, to which several hon. Members have referred, published a report in 1991 that laid the groundwork for many of the measures in the Bill. The report stated:
It will be worth discussing in Committee how the Tote will be valued and what should happen if the Office of Fair Trading and the racing industry do not reach an amicable agreement. Could the levy be extended beyond 2005 if we were at that stage in chaos?
My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, East and Mexborough (Jeff Ennis) referred to the grant that currently comes from the levy board to assist the horses retraining fund. It is a small but important point that 300 horses are supported by that fund at the moment, and racing has a proud recordespecially compared with the greyhound industryin looking after animals when they retire. It is important that that continues.
Finally, I end with a word about the Olympic bid and the lottery fund, both of which I thoroughly support. Displacement is an issue and, as other hon. Members have suggested, the Government could provide tax concessions to make up for that. However, if we are to make a credible Olympic bid, the opportunity cost will fall somewhere. Funds for the preparation and implementation of the bid will have to come from somewhere. As someone from the north of England, I think that that is worthwhile. The knock-on effects on participation in sport, the country's profile, and the statement that we can do such things in the 21st century and not just in 1908 and 1948, would be so important.
I will be 50 in 2012 when, we hope, the Olympic games will be staged in London. People of my age could probably only hope for gold medals in shooting events, but for the two weeks of the games I would feel not 50 or even 40, but 21. That is how inspiring it would be to have the Olympic games in our country. I fully support the Olympic lottery fund and I broadly support the Bill.