HC Deb 27 May 1873 vol 216 cc494-8

On Motion, "That the House at rising adjourn to the 5th June."


said, he had no objection to offer to the Motion:—on the contrary, he and those who agreed with him, as they saw no chance of defeating the usual Motion for adjournment over the Derby Day in this Parliament, were grateful to the Government for altering the time at which the House ordinarily adjourned for Whitsuntide, so as to comprise the Derby Day in the regular holidays, inasmuch as it relieved them from the humiliation of being parties to voting a special compliment to a national sport which they believed more than any other tended to injure the morals of this country. What he rose for on the present occasion was to call the attention of two right hon. Friends of his on the Treasury bench, whom he saw in their places, to a matter which was intimately connected with the subject before the House—the adjournment over the Derby Day. The House would remember that for the past two years he had introduced a Bill entitled the Betting Bill. It would also be remembered that to a great portion of that Bill considerable objections were urged; but he hoped hon. Members would likewise agree in their recollection that as to one portion of the Bill—namely, that portion of it which proposed to extend the Betting Houses Act of 1853 to Scotland—there had been an unanimous consent on the part of the House. In support of that proposal, he had produced to the House Petitions from a number of persons charged with the administration of the Criminal Law in Scotland, and amongst others there was a remarkable Petition from the Board of Police of Glasgow, signed "J. W. Watson, Lord Provost." That Petition stated that the provisions of the Betting Houses Act of 1853 were by this Bill proposed to be extended to Scotland, and that if so extended, the duty of enforcing them would fall on the petitioners. The Petition went on to say the Act had been of great service in England and Ireland, but, so far as Scotland was concerned, it had resulted in the establishment of a number of houses in Glasgow, and other towns, for doing precisely that which by the Act was forbidden to be done in England and Ireland. As he had said, the opinion of the House was quite unanimous as to the expediency of extending the provisions of that Act to Scotland, but he was, nevertheless, unable to carry his Bill through last year. He must confess, however, that from what fell from his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and also from what passed between himself and his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate, the impression was left upon his mind that they were decidedly in favour of the proposal to extend the Act to Scotland, and that either one or the other of them would have undertaken to introduce a Bill for that purpose in the course of the present Session. He now, however, found himself in this unfortunate position—his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had his hands so full that he could not undertake to deal with the matter this Session; and his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate had quite forgotten that he gave any promise—or rather he had forgotten that any such idea ever came into his head as that he was to propose the extension of the Betting Houses Act to Scotland during the present Session. He really trusted, however, that one or other of his right hon. Friends would even yet give the House some assurance that this would be done. The need for it was as great as ever. In proof of this he would mention that as he came down to the House he had made a very bad investment of 1½d. in the purchase of The Sportsman, one of the popular racing journals, and he found in that journal advertisements relating to no less than 11 houses in Glasgow which were kept up by Englishmen for the very purpose of fostering a system which the Betting Act was passed to put down in the rest of the United Kingdom. This, he said, was a most unblushing and shameful proceeding. No doubt it was a very difficult thing to deal with this matter. There were a great number of persons who, taking a common-sense view of this matter said, it was quite impossible to prevent this curse of betting by Act of Parliament. He was quite prepared to agree to that position. No doubt betting could not be put down by law. There was a very notorious person who was employing the time of three of Her Majesty's Judges in the neighbourhood of that House, and who was said to have used the celebrated phrase—"There's some folks has plenty money and no brains, and some folks has plenty brains and no money." He quite agreed with the conclusion to which that saying pointed. As Mr. Biglow said— The right to be a cussed fool Is free from all devices human, And common, as a general rule, To every crittur born of woman. There always would be plenty of fools in this country, and plenty of rogues to pluck them; but he contended that it was the business of the House not to put special facilities in the way of rogues, and therefore he thought it was only for the credit of the House that some step should be taken immediately to extend the Betting Houses Act to Scotland. At that period of the Session it would be perfectly futile for any private Member to undertake such a duty, or otherwise he would himself take up that portion of the question by re-introducing that part of his Bill which contained the necessary clauses; but, under the circumstances, he did appeal to the Government to do this, and so to wipe away this scandal from the country.


hoped the House would permit him to say that his hon. Friend had rather misapprehended what at least he intended to say to him in conversation yesterday. It was merely this—that he (the Lord Advocate) had no recollection whatever of the conversation which he stated had taken place between them in the course of last Session. But if he had said on that occasion that he was not aware of any distinction between England and Scotland which would make a law which the House thought good for England objectionable in regard to Scotland, he expressed exactly the impression he entertained at that moment. But if his hon. Friend (Mr. T. Hughes) was right in saying that a measure which merely proposed to extend the English Act to Scotland would meet with no opposition, it appeared to him that such a measure would be as likely to succeed in the hands of a private Member as in the hands of the Government.


hoped the Government would see its way to bring in a measure to extend the Betting Houses Act to Scotland. It would be a very short affair in their hands, but it might be a very long and tedious one in the hands of a private Member. It was a great grievance to the people of Scotland to be afflicted in the way they were by these betting-men coming down from England and from all quarters to carry out their schemes.


also hoped a Bill would be brought in by the Government, for he did not see any hope of a private Member carrying such a measure. There was no doubt it would meet with some opposition, and if it met with any opposition at all, a private Member would in that case be utterly helpless.


said, the state of the case was this—the Government did introduce a Bill on the subject, which met with very considerable opposition, and the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther) then stated that he would move at the commencement of this Session for a Select Committee to enquire into the whole subject with a view to legislation. He had no doubt that a Bill amending the present Act and dealing in a satisfactory manner with this subject would require a good deal of time for discussion, and it could only be introduced with the chance of being carried on condition that some other measure of the Government was laid aside. For that the Government was not prepared. On the other hand, a measure extending the Betting Houses Act to Scotland would, as his hon. Friend said, meet with no opposition at all; and if it met with no opposition, the rule relating to Opposed Business not being taken after half-past 12 would not apply, and therefore in the hands of a private Member it would be just as likely to come to a satisfactory issue as if it were in the hands of a Member of the Government.


asked what Business would be taken after Whitsuntide, and when the Army Estimates would be discussed?


said, the Bills put down for Thursday week were not, perhaps, of special interest to the mass of the House. They included the Merchant Shipping Bill and the Juries Bill. On the following Monday the second reading of the Judicature Bill would be taken, and on the succeeding Thursday the Committee on the Bills of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Stansfeld) would be proceeded with. The Government proposed to begin with those Bills on the previous Tuesday morning, and they would go on, in all probability, continuously through the week.

House at rising to adjourn till Thursday the 5th day of June next.—(Mr. Gladstone.)

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