A number of readers used the letter template from this site to complain to their MPs about the failure of the betting industry – specifically Betfair – to honour a moral obligation to pay into the BGRF. Our thanks to Nathan Hunt, who works for Romford’s Phil Simmonds, for forwarding the reply he received from a researcher for his MP Heidi Allen. As with previous examples, it is clear that the MPs assistants have not simply ‘batted off’ the complaint, but have attempted to investigate and pursue it.
Thank you for your email. By means of a brief introduction, my name is Natalie and I work for Heidi in Westminster. My colleague Paul forwarded me your email as I am the member of staff who works on national policy issues such as this.
Firstly, please do accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you but I wanted to speak with the House of Commons Library expert and departmental officials to fully consider the issue.
As you point out, contributions to the British Greyhound Racing Fund are voluntary and are not mandated through a statutory levy. In November 2014, Dan Jarvis MP asked the then Minister about this issue and was told:
“The Government would like to see greyhound racing remain a successful sport and encourage the greyhound and betting industries to continue to work constructively together, not least because they have a mutual interest in promoting effective welfare and integrity measures. However, the Government will not intervene in voluntary funding arrangements, which are a matter for the greyhound industry and its funders.”
I understand that this is not the answer you were hoping for so I spoke further with departmental officials. They pointed me to a response made by the Defra Minister George Eustice in response to a recent Westminster Hall debate on this issue:
“To extend the remit [of the horse racing levy] in the way…suggested would require primary legislation – I do not think we could do that through secondary legislation – and I am told that there may also be EU state aid and competition law issues. Clearly, those types of obstacles will shortly be removed, and in that context the Government may want to revisit and reconsider the issue in the future.”
As Mr Eustice suggests, part of the difficulty in introducing a levy for greyhound racing is due to the EU directives which the UK is currently implicated in through our membership of the European Union. Because of this, currently, it is not possible to introduce primary or secondary legislation but that is not to say legislation will not be introduced further down the line as we continue to engage with the Brexit negotiation and withdrawal process – indeed, the Minister suggested as much. Please be assured I will continue to monitor the situation and should there be an opportunity for new legislation in the coming months, I will flag this for Heidi’s attention to consider how she might support such change.
In the meantime, I know the Government are continuing to press bookmakers and betting companies to pay their fair share to the BGRF. Similarly, the BGRF are continuing to engage with non-payers and also use the services of a special consultant to help with this. I hope you find this information helpful and if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
Very best wishes,
Name withheld by Greyhound Star
Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire
Address: House of Commons, Westminster, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5091