PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

DRAFT HORSE RACING (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 1990

Thursday 5 July 1990

LONDON: HMSO

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: MR. GERAINT HOWELLS

Bottomley, Mr. Peter (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)

Cunliffe, Mr. Lawrence (Leigh)

Flannery, Mr. Martin (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Forman, Mr. Nigel (Carshalton and Wallington)

French, Mr. Douglas (Gloucester)

Gale, Mr. Roger (Thanet, North)

Garrett, Mr. Ted (Wallsend)

George, Mr. Bruce (Walsall, South)

Harris, Mr. David (St. Ives)

Jones, Mr. Gwilym (Cardiff North)

Key, Mr. Robert (Salisbury)

Knowles, Mr. Michael (Nottingham, East)

Lee, Mr. John (Pendle)

McGrady, Mr. Eddie (South Down)

McNamara, Mr. Kevin (Kingston upon Hull, North)

Pendry, Mr. Tom (Stalybridge and Hyde)

Steen, Mr. Anthony (South Hams)

Wood, Mr. Timothy (Stevenage)

Mr. J. R. Rose, Committee Clerk

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3 Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Thursday 5 July 1990

[MR. GERAINT HOWELLS in the Chair]

DRAFT HORSE RACING (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 1990

10.30 a.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Bottomley): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990. The order extends the scope of the horse racing fund, which was established under the Horse Racing and Betting (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, to provide financial assistance to Downpatrick racecourse. The two racecourses in Northern Ireland are Down Royal, commonly known as the Maze, near Lisburn, and Downpatrick. From 1963 to 1976, both received a small amount of Government assistance. In the early 1970s, following advice from the Jockey Club, which carried out a survey of racing in Northern Ireland, it was decided to concentrate financial assistance for racing on Down Royal, which was reckoned to have more potential for development. Financial support to Downpatrick was withdrawn. A Northern Ireland horse racing fund was established by the Horse Racing and Betting (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 to provide financial assistance for Down Royal. The fund is administered by the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland and financed by annual contributions from bookmakers in Northern Ireland. It has provided financial assistance for race prize money, met the costs of technical and personnel services required on race days and contributed towards the cost of improvements to the race track and facilities for participants and spectators. Despite the non-availability of financial support from the horse racing fund, those involved with racing at Downpatrick persevered and have continued operating the racecourse there reasonably effectively while remaining financially viable. They have even managed to increase the number of race meetings held at the course in recent years. Downpatrick racecourse has continued to make a significant contribution to the racing scene in Northern Ireland. I have visited the course and know that any member of the Committee who wished to go there would receive a great welcome. While there, I tipped a horse for the fifth race on television and it came in fourth. I failed to make myself famous in horse racing circles in Northern Ireland. 4 Downpatrick racecourse's positive performance has led Ministers to reconsider its exclusion from financial assistance. The Government now believe that Downpatrick racecourse is an important element of the Northern Ireland horse racing scene and that it is worthy of financial assistance from the horse racing fund on a basis similar to that applied to Down Royal. The order extends the scope of the horse racing fund to include Downpatrick and Down Royal. Licensed bookmakers in Northern Ireland who finance the fund by annual contributions have been consulted and support the extension of financial assistance to Downpatrick. I am grateful for their cooperation. The Horse Racing and Betting (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 will be repealed. The horse racing fund will continue to be financed by annual contributions from bookmakers in Northern Ireland and to be administered by the Department of Agriculture. Financial assistance will be available towards prize money for races, the costs of technical and personnel services required on race days and of works or facilities which may sometimes be necessary specifically to ensure that race meetings can take place in safe and secure conditions. My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs Gorman) will be pleased to hear that that has been done without public funds. Article 3(1) provides for the horse racing fund to be continued and maintained under the control and management of the Department of Agriculture to give financial assistance towards the operation and development of horse racecourses at Down Royal and Downpatrick and to reimburse the administrative expenses of the Department of Agriculture, and 3(2) requires both racecourses to submit budgets and expenditure plans to the Department. Article 3(3) places responsibility on the Department to make payments out of the fund to provide or supplement prize money, to finance technical and other services required for the conduct of race meetings or to contribute towards the cost of works or facilities that are essential to ensure the safety of spectators at race meetings or the proper conduct of racing. Article 3(4) allows the Department to make payments for prize money direct to the Irish Turf Club. Article 4 provides for the investment of funds between collection and disbursement. Article 5 requires the Department of Agriculture to prepare an account of the fund for examination and certification by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland and to make copies of the certified account generally available. Article 6 provides the Department of Agriculture with powers of entry to inspect works that will be financed by the fund and creates offences for anyone who obstructs an authorised officer from carrying out his duties in that respect. Article 7 requires the racecourse managements to supply any information or documentation reasonably required by the Department of Agriculture and gives the Department the power to inspect records. 5 Article 8 provides that, subject to the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel, the fund may be wound up. Article 9 requires all bookmakers in Northern Ireland to contribute to the fund by way of charges levied by the Department of Agriculture and empowers the Department, with the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel and after consultation with such organisations as appear necessary, to specify the charges. Article 10 requires both racecourses to keep and prepare accounts in a form satisfactory to the Department of Agriculture, to have the accounts properly audited and to submit them to the Department. Article 11 amends rules 13 and 14 of the rules and byelaws of the Down Royal corporation to reduce bookmaker representation on the Down Royal management committee to two, prohibits modification of the corporation's rules and byelaws without the approval of the Department of Agriculture and provides for the printing of the rules and byelaws. Those are the main provisions of the order.

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10.36 a.m.

Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh): The Minister's credentials as a tipster appear to be somewhat shaky. However, having won on four of the six winners that Willie Carson rode at Newcastle on Saturday, I feel disposed to receive the measure with acclamation.

Mr. Bottomley: I am delighted to have the support of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe) as well as that of the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady), the local Member of Parliament. We have also had support from both sides of the House by spokesmen on Northern Ireland and horse racing. I congratulate the hon. Member for Leigh on his success and—for once—The Guardian tipster, who managed to go through the card.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved. That the Committee has considered the draft Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990.

Committee rose at twenty-three minutes to Eleven o 'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Howells, Mr. Geraint (Chairman)

Bottomley, Mr. Peter

Cunliffe, Mr.

French, Mr.

Gorman, Mrs

Harris, Mr.

Knowles, Mr.

McNamara, Mr.

Wood, Mr.