HC Deb 23 June 1890 vol 345 cc1625-6
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I Leg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the action of the Recorder of Liverpool in some prosecutions of betting clubs which have recently been before him, in which the defendants succeeded in getting off; whether his attention has been drawn to the case of the "Waterloo Club," and to the evidence that it was a betting club, and to the summing up of the Recorder in this case, in which he is reported to have said that— The Legislature had never taken a decisive course in regard to betting. Betting under the Act of Parliament had a special meaning, namely, that one person paid or received what was wagered by others. It would not be against the Act if two members of the club made a bet, and the one paid the other. The defendants were found not guilty on the charges of "keeping," "using," "permitting," and "assisting;" whether his attention has been drawn to the case of the "Tarleton Club," in which the defendants had been fined by one of the City Justices for keeping the club open for betting purposes, which conviction was quashed by the Recorder of Liverpool upon an exception taken by the counsel for the defendants to the convictions, on the ground that they proceeded against the defendants as owners or occupiers of the premises, whereas, though they were shareholders, the premises were rated as occupied by the Tarleton Club Company, Limited; and whether he is prepared to recommend legislation to remedy these defects in the law, as evidenced by the above cases?


I am informed by the learned Recorder that the report of what he said in the case of the Waterloo Club is not accurate. What he did say was that the Legislature had never prohibited betting, or made it unlawful, but had only made bets irrecoverable by law. He also said that the statute 16 and 17 Vict., cap. 119, under which the defendants were indicted, had been held to apply to places where money was received in advance on one side, and not to betting generally. Unless this club could be proved to be such a place the defendants were entitled to their acquittal. With regard to the Tarleton Club, the defendants had been convicted as "owners" and "occupiers." There was no evidence that this was the case, as the counsel for the Justices admitted. The above cases do not, therefore, disclose any serious defect in the law; and I can hold out no hope of legislation on this subject at any early date.

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