Finance Bill

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The Chairman: Order. I am cognisant of the aspirations of the business managers and also of the time available to us this morning. More significantly, because we are here to debate the issues, I am also cognisant of the fact that many issues that are being raised are covered in the following schedules. The clause under discussion is effectively a paving clause for the schedule. Therefore, I hope that hon. Members will understand that if I invite the Minister to respond to those things that he feels are appropriate now, I will also create an opportunity for Members who wish to debate the issues thoroughly to do that when we debate the schedule and schedule stand part.

Mr. Boateng: I am very grateful for that indication, Mr. Gale.

Clause 57 and schedule 18 introduce a package of tax reliefs for community amateur sports clubs. The sports club sector has long lobbied for parity with charities. The Charity Commission's announcement last November that it will recognise the promotion of community participation in healthy recreation by the provision of facilities for the playing of particular sports means that many clubs can now achieve that parity by becoming charities. However, we also realise that some clubs cannot or do not want to apply for charitable status. For those clubs, the separate tax package will provide access to some of the reliefs enjoyed by charities and those who donate to them.

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In constructing the package, we have tried to strike a balance between supporting the clubs that are the life-blood of so many communities and recognising the interests of charities and other taxpayers, such as small businesses. The provision of the package as a safety net for those clubs that do not achieve charitable status has been widely welcomed. Howard Wells, chairman of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, was good enough to say:

    ''This is a great day for British sport. We are delighted that Government is listening to the views of sport, and is recognising its contribution to society through the tax system. The CCPR will work with Government to implement these proposals as effectively as possible.''

The Sport England chief, David Moffett, said:

    ''We welcome the Chancellor's announcement as a real boost for CASCs across the country.''

A point was raised about the Treasury seeking the power to define sport. Our approach was to adopt the list of Sport England, whose members are the people on the ground who do so much good work with clubs. By adopting its list, we avoided having to make value judgments about particular sports. That should be welcomed by the whole Committee. As soon as the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent, clubs will be able to apply to the Inland Revenue to be registered as community amateur sports clubs.

The hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) discussed the submissions that he has received from rugby clubs. What they are doing, perfectly properly, in the correspondence that he described is presenting the options to their members, who have a choice—not a dilemma but a choice. Of course, clubs must meet the criteria set out in schedule 18 of open membership, being organised on an amateur basis and promoting an eligible sport. An eligible sport will be designated by Treasury order, with reference to Sport England's list of recognised sports.

Most clubs are not trading when they carry on their main activity of providing sporting and ancillary relief to their members, so they normally pay no tax on their income. That will not change. Obviously, we have to take into account the nature of the clubs, and encourage and support them in seeking out new sources of funding.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the measure was simply a response to lobbying or whether we have a broader vision. My answer is that we have a broader vision, which has been made clear by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport as well as by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It is one in which sport can contribute to health and regeneration and that is, I think, the experience of all of us in our constituencies.

There will be tax incentives to help individuals to support their local clubs and boost fundraising. However, we are not seeking to push clubs down a particular route. They will have a choice: they can follow the Charity Commission route, which is a welcome option in the light of the commission's decision to relax its approach to the charitability of sports clubs, or they can follow the Inland Revenue route. Both have benefits, depending on the needs of

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the club, their response to their local community, their traditions and their history. It is for that and the contribution that sport can make that I ask the Committee to welcome the provision, as it has been welcomed by sport generally.

Mr. Flight: Of course, relief is welcomed by amateur sports clubs that cannot or find it difficult to qualify for charitable status and the nitty-gritty will be discussed when we come to the schedule.

The point of principle--the difference between the Revenue package and the charity package--is not hugely material. One issue is that a charity can receive

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gift aid on company and personal donations, but on the Revenue side it applies only to individual donations.

I hope that when the Government consider the matter further they will decide that it is sensible to align the two. The clause is welcome in principle and I look forward to going through the details of the schedule in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

        Further consideration adjourned.--[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

        Adjourned accordingly at twenty-two minutes past Eleven o'clock till Tuesday 11 June at half-past Ten o'clock.

Column Number: 245

        Gale, Mr, Roger ( Chairman )

        Boateng, Mr.

        Brennan, Kevin

        Casale, Roger

        Cruddas, Jon

        Cunningham, Mr. Jim

        Curtis-Thomas, Mrs.

        Davey, Mr. Edward

        Field, Mr. Mark

        Flight, Mr.

        Grayling, Chris

        Hoban, Mr.

        Jack, Mr.

Column Number: 246

        Laws, Mr.

        Luff, Mr.

        Luke, Mr.

        Marris, Rob

        Pond, Mr.

        Primarolo, Dawn

        Pugh, Dr.

        Ryan, Joan

        Smith, Angela

        Southworth, Helen

        Sutcliffe, Mr.

        Wright, David

 
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