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Angela Eagle: I agree with my hon. Friend that people who use amusement arcades or go to bingo halls are not necessarily problem gamblers; I suspect that few of them are. As hon. Members have said, a series of changes has taken place under the Gambling Act,
28 Apr 2008 : Column 88
which, after all, has been working only since October 2007. Hon. Members are calling for a review. Clearly, there will be a review, but we must remember that the major changes to social law have been working for only a short time and it may be slightly early to have a full review of the Act.

Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): The Government have just conducted a very panicky emergency review of their ill-judged proposals on the taxation of low-paid people. Why can they not attribute the same urgency to a review of the destruction of a seaside industry, about which the Minister has been warned in the past and which has now taken place? A very serious situation faces hundreds, or even thousands, of businesses employing very many people. Will the Minister show the same urgency over that as she showed over the 10p tax rate?

Angela Eagle: If the right hon. Gentleman had been listening to what I was saying, he would know that it is not for the Treasury but for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to conduct such a review. I will not say from the Dispatch Box that I will do things that are properly a matter for colleagues in another Department.

Mr. Gummer: I find it a little difficult to understand what the Minister is saying about the distinction between community action and taxation. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces that the cost of cigarettes is to rise considerably, he always says “I am doing this to safeguard the health of the nation.” It is not possible to distinguish between the two issues. All we are asking is for the Minister to promise that she will tell her colleagues that the review must take place, otherwise she will lose money.

Angela Eagle: My colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are keeping these matters under review, as they keep the social law relating to gambling under review. Even as we speak, they are examining issues relating to specific gaming machines and stakes. It is not for me to announce what my colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are going to do. The fact is that gambling law and the social law relating to it are a matter for them and for the Gambling Commission, while taxation is a matter for Her Majesty’s Treasury.

Mr. Hancock: If taxation is indeed the responsibility of Treasury Ministers, accepting the amendment would demonstrate that they recognised the damage that this change would do to the industry, and that they would be denying themselves revenue rather than increasing it. That in itself would put down a marker for the Minister’s colleagues elsewhere in Government, indicating that she for one is prepared to listen, to recognise the size of the problem, and to act.

Angela Eagle: The hon. Gentleman has raised two issues. Of course we are sensitive—I am sensitive—to the health of particular industries and how their activities are affected, but he seems to be suggesting that this industry is in difficulty because of the revalorisation of amusement machine licence duty. Although he may well have a point, the issues affecting the industry range
28 Apr 2008 : Column 89
more widely than whether we revalorise amusement machine licence duty as a tax. They also involve some of the changes resulting from the gambling legislation, and the changes in the social law. However, that is a matter for my colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Category B3 machines are high-price gaming machines with a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize of £500. As we were told by the hon. Member for Putney, adult gaming centres and licensed bingo halls are permitted a maximum of four such machines. My colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are considering the case for assisting bingo halls and arcades, but the Government’s underlying approach to gambling regulation is rightly a precautionary one. We must weigh the industry’s demands that we help it through economic difficulties against any danger that higher-stake, high-prize machines may pose to the public.

As I have said, amusement machine licence duty is a fixed cost, so because of inflation the real value of revenue raised by it will diminish over time. Reducing AMLD rates in 2009 to their August 2006 levels would cost £15 million. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said that it is considering the industry’s case for assistance, and it would be wrong to pre-empt the process by making an explicit link between the social regulation of gaming duties and levels of amusement machine licence duty.

I hope that, given that explanation, the hon. Member for Putney will withdraw her amendment.

Justine Greening: If we were ever in doubt over whether this is a joined-up Government, we have just discovered the truth: they definitely are not. The Minister can hardly be bothered to talk to her colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. She says that we should not mix up social law and Treasury law, but I am afraid that this is a social law which is having an economic impact. To say that it has nothing to do with the Treasury is an entirely inadequate response to the fact that companies are going out of business at this moment. The Minister ought to be willing to act. This is no way in which to treat the businesses that are so vital to seaside communities, and I therefore wish to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 221, Noes 309.
Division No. 155]
[7.56 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Gregory

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leech, Mr. John
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Brooks Newmark and
Mr. John Baron

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela

Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick

Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Siobhain McDonagh and
Tony Cunningham
Question accordingly negatived.
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28 Apr 2008 : Column 91

28 Apr 2008 : Column 92

28 Apr 2008 : Column 93

Clause 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3

Abolition of starting and savings rates and creation of starting rate for savings

Mr. Philip Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 18, in page 2, line 21, at beginning insert ‘Save as provided in subsection (6A),’.

The Temporary Chairman (Frank Cook): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 19, line 22, at end insert—

Clause 3 stand part.

28 Apr 2008 : Column 94

Mr. Hammond: Clause 3 has dominated debate on the Finance Bill. The policy changes that it contains have unravelled, and they have unravelled for the same reason that the Government are unravelling; they are incoherent, inconsistent and driven by short-term political expediency rather than a long-term strategy. The problems that the clause has created are the Prime Minister’s problems. He announced these measures in his last Budget, measures that he knew—even when taken together with all the other measures that he announced—would have the effect of making 5.3 million low-earning households worse off. So why did he do it? Various theories have been advanced, the most generous—and, I have to say, the least probable—of which is that he did not appreciate the effect the measure would have on the poorest.

I bow to no one in my enthusiasm for identifying flaws in the Prime Minister but stupidity and innumeracy are not two that even I would suggest. Was it, as I have previously suggested, a move designed to establish his credentials ahead of a Labour leadership election and a honeymoon general election as the successor to Blair, able to reach out to middle England? Or, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) suggested in the debate last Monday, was this entire elaborate strategy—announced in the way it was, with the abolition of the 10p rate concealed in the Budget small print and the reduction in the basic rate trumpeted in the final paragraph—nothing more than a tactical manoeuvre to try to wrong-foot the Leader of the Opposition in his reply? Whatever the motive, it was a cynical and short-term one, abandoning a long-term Labour party objective and a 1997 manifesto commitment.

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): Regardless of what the Government’s motives were in changing the policy, the absolute wage rates in my constituency have decreased by 4 per cent. in the last 12 months—and they started off at 25 per cent. below the national average—so this change is having a practical negative effect in my constituency. It is reducing the average standard of living in Montgomeryshire and in many other constituencies, too.

Mr. Hammond: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. This tax change, which has had a negative impact on 5.3 million of the poorest households, comes at a time when earnings are stagnant and prices are soaring, leaving the average family squeezed in a vice-like grip. This measure is all the Government can offer them; at a time when those households need a hand up, all the Government offer them is a tax increase.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): My hon. Friend is being too generous to the Prime Minister. The clear reason for this measure is that the only category of the poor that count in the eyes of the current Administration are those who are part of the client state. The point is that this measure is heavily hitting people who are not in receipt of benefits.

Mr. Hammond: My hon. Friend is right in that the people who will be worst hit will be those who are working. I accept his criticism; I have clearly been too generous to the Prime Minister, and I promise my hon. Friend that I will try to do better in future.

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