On the Second Reading of this Bill I proposed an amendment, the effect of which was what Deputy Shaw has now suggested, namely, that half of the tax so collected should be devoted to improving the stakes. You, sir, ruled that it was out of order on that occasion. The Minister has now stated that he is of opinion that this is not the proper time or way to raise this question. Perhaps I may be allowed to suggest that it would be possible to bring about this desired end by means of the Appropriation Bill. I do not know, sir, what your views upon that are. But the Minister seems to think that the only method of appropriating this money would be by introducing a new resolution and passing a separate Bill. I would suggest, if he were so disposed, that the money having been voted by these resolutions and by this Bill, provision could be made in the Appropriation Bill for the allocation of that money.
Apart from that, I was particularly interested in the tone of the Minister's most recent speech on this subject. When he introduced this betting tax he informed the House that he expected to get a revenue of from £150,000 to £200,000 from it. His latest confession amounts to this, that he does not know what he is going to get, and that he cannot make any promise about allocating any sum, because he really does not know where he is. That has been my attitude all through the discussion of this proposed tax: that the Minister for Finance, not having sufficiently investigated the subject, not being in a position to state definitely what he expects to get by means of this tax, is in reality taking a leap in the dark. We have it now on his own confession that he cannot make certain allocations for a certain purpose of the tax collected on the course, because in reality he does not know what he is going to get. I think that certainly is a timely confession, and one that shows the nature of the proposed tax.
The Minister has sought to draw a distinction between a tax on bets made with bookmakers and a tax collected by way of the totalisator. He seems to be confident in regard to the totalisator. To use his own words, it will be a simple matter. I fail to see how it will be any more simple in regard to the totalisator than in regard to the tax collected from the bookmakers. I do not know whether the Minister's advisers have informed him of the custom in other countries. Perhaps he is not aware that in every country in which there is a betting tax a certain sum actually has been allocated and is definitely earmarked for the purpose of improving the stakes or encouraging horse-breeding. In France, where the system first came in, where the Pari Mutuel first saw the light of day, I think 50 per cent. is allocated for the improvement of stakes and the remainder is given for charitable purposes, such as hospitals. Similarly in Australia and New Zealand. In these countries it is not done by way of an actual proposal dependent upon the amount of tax collected, but it is a definite rule laid down by the respective Parliaments that no matter what the amount may be, or whether the tax is collected by way of the totalisator or from bookmakers, a certain percentage shall go to the improvement of stakes and for the benefit of horse-breeding.
I fail to see why we cannot follow that beaten track. Even though the Minister has confessed that he does not know what he is going to get from the tax, I do not see that that alters the principle of the suggestion in any way. The suggestion is that if this tax produces revenue—no matter what that revenue may be—a certain proportion should go towards the improvement of stakes and for the benefit of horse-breeding. I do not think that that suggestion is dependent upon whether the tax hits the race meeting executives or not. This is a tax which undoubtedly will hit various classes. It will hit those who go to race meetings merely for the sake of pastime and enjoyment and who have to pay entertainment tax. There is no proposal here as in the case of coursing to remove the entertainment tax. It will also hit those who go there for business purposes, such as bookmakers, and it will hit the owners and trainers. To suggest that if it does not seriously injure racing nothing is to be done for the improvement of stakes, or for the benefit of horse-breeding, is, I think, hardly fair. I think in face of the strong representations made to the Minister, especially the latest one which we have just heard from Deputy Shaw, there is no reason why he should not proceed along the well recognised path and in accordance with the customs which have been adopted in other countries. To say merely that this is not technically the opportunity for bringing it up and that he would require a separate resolution and separate Bill to do so, I think is altogether burking the issue. I suggest that it would be possible, if the Minister so desired, to allocate a certain percentage of the revenue derived both from the bookmakers and the totalistator upon the Appropriation Bill. That is, if he so desires. But evidently he does not so desire. I must say as one who has taken part in those discussions that I am gravely disappointed at the Minister's attitude to-day because he leaves no hope for encouragement for either horse-breeders, owners or the executives of the race meetings in Ireland, and I think it is to be regretted that he is not able, as has been done elsewhere, to give an assurance of a certain percentage no matter what the tax may be.