Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Finance Bill 2011: Committee Stage
Dick Roche (Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
The predominant part of the discussion since I came into the Chamber has concerned how to capture the online sector. As all of us know there is no doubt this sector has grown very dramatically in recent times. It is a very difficult area to capture. Obviously, provisions and arrangements will be made by regulation. We all accept that a regulatory framework must be put in place which will deal with betting exchanges and remote or online betting. I did not entirely understand the point made by Deputy Burton. As her colleague, Deputy Sherlock, pointed out, racing is a very important part of the economy, a point often lost sight of in the debate. Even a non-punter like me can see it is a critically important industry.
The proposal in the Bill aimed to create a balance by extending a modest rate of 1% to online and telephone betting, thereby creating a levelling of the playing field notwithstanding the point made by Deputy Barrett. That is the logic behind this section of the Bill.
In reply to Deputy Andrews' concerns, obviously any form of change is open to exploitation by those who are willing to operate outside the law. Again that is a matter for regulation.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh touched on remoter or wider parts of the Bill when he spoke of the differences in the excise duties on petrol and diesel. It is an interesting point and I will reply to the Deputy through his colleagues. Petrol is generally 7 cent cheaper per litre in the Republic than it is in Northern Ireland while the differential for diesel is 20 cent. That is why there is such purchase of fuels in the South by people registered in the North. The differential is so handsome that it pays certain people to operate outside the law and become involved in illegal activities, but I am sure no Member of the House has any such connection.