HC Deb 21 April 1926 vol 194 cc1214-8

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to Betting, and to provide for the registration of all bookmakers. This is a short Bill dealing with the inequalities in our betting system in this country. It is a Bill of only two Clauses, and it will suggest to the majority of the House, I hope, a very reasonable way of dealing with the matter. The first Clause is one for legalising betting. There is tremendous feeling in the country among a certain class that the legalising of betting will create more opportunities for the rank and file to bet, and that it will induce people to waste money which they would not other waste. I say with respect that I do not consider that the legalising of betting would have any such result. I think that if betting were legalised, we would undoubtedly get better and cleaner conditions with regard to betting; we would clear away a large number of bookmakers of an uncertain sort; and we would give many material advantages to most of the people of the country. [Laughter.] Let us be quite frank. Many hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh. I say quite straightly that you will never put down betting in this country. There are many people, and sensible people, who desire, and are properly entitled, to have their bet they want to do so. I am not standing up in defence of people who spend more money than they can afford on betting, but I say that if you are going to recog- nise betting at all, you should recognise it under proper conditions, as you recognise the licensing trade.

I know that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) will oppose this Bill. She, of course, cannot see any good in licensing of any sort. I take up the reasonable standpoint of the man in the street, who says that if you are going to have something you should have it under proper conditions and proper supervision. Therefore, the first Clause of this Bill is merely a Clause to legalise betting and to put it on a proper footing. It is coupled with a further Clause for the licensing of bookmakers. I suggest very strongly that this is a very reasonable proposal. Every bookmaker who wants to make a practice of his trade should be obliged to have a licence in the same way as a public house is obliged to have one. Further, I think that a large revenue would accrue to the State on the turnover of the individual bookmaker. There should be a licence duty payable to the Government in respect of the licence. I am confident that this would bring considerable revenue to the country, and it would prevent what is going on now all over the country, that is, a. large number of people who are carrying on bookmakers' businesses to-day and—

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

On a point of Order. I understand from what the hon. Gentleman has said, that the Bill proposes to place a. charge on the subject by imposing a licence on bookmakers. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that it would not be in order, unless prefaced by a Financial Resolution.


I must wait and see. If the Bill conflicts with our Standing Orders, I shall be able to deal with it at the next stage. At present I do not know what is to be in the Bill.


I was merely suggesting that as a result of this Bill something could be done in future with regard to the proper and adequate taxation of this particular sport. I suggest that because betting is in the unfortunate position of not being legal, or because it is really illegal, there are large numbers of people, commission men, up and down the country, who are deriving a con- siderable revenue from placing bets with big bookmakers, and some of them are making £1,000, £1,200, and even £2,000 a year on big commission accounts on which they do not pay even Income Tax, because they know that if they return these sums for Income Tax purposes, they will be asked immediately the source from which the money is derived. I know there is a hypocritical feeling that we are being so good as not to legalise betting, when all the time we know that it is going on all over the country. I do not consider that one bet more would be made if betting were legalised. Although I do not care the least bit for hon. Members like the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), I am certain that he, with his freedom of thought, would agree that anyone who wants to bet under proper conditions is entitled to expect to have his money paid. If betting were legalised, if there were proper licences and supervision of the bookmakers, there would be every reasonable precaution taken to see that people got fair treatment.


I wish to opose the Motion. If the argument is to be used that, because an evil is prevalent, we should register those who are engaged in it, I am afraid that we are going beyond Dixeyland to something far different. The argument has been used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in other quarters, that because we have licensed another evil, there is no reason why we should not be engaged in the licensing of the procedure indicated in this Bill. Our country undoubtedly is infected with the spirit of gambling. It is prevalent not only on the street and on the racecourse. It is prevalent right up to the very highest point of what is called society. It is found on the Stock Exchange. In every section of life undoubtedly that is what we have to face. The question which we have to encounter as a House of Commons is whether we are to drift with the evil tendencies of our times, or whether we are to lead in the doing of God's will on earth.

Question put,"That leave be given to introduce a Bill to amend the law relating to Betting, and to provide for the registration of all bookmakers."

The House divided: Ayes, 99; Noes, 126.

Division No. 187.] AYES. [3.52 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Elveden, Viscount Moore, Sir Newton J.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Everard, W. Lindsay Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Fairfax, Captain J. G. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Atkinson, C. Fanshawe, Commander G. D. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fermoy, Lord Penny, Frederick George
Balniel, Lord Fielden, E. B. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Foster, Sir Harry S, Pielou, D. P.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Fraser, Captain Ian Radford, E. A.
Bennett, A. J. Frece, Sir Walter de Raine, W.
Bethel, A. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Remnant, Sir James
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Gates, Percy. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Bowerman, Rt, Hon. Charles W. Gault, Lieut-Col. Andrew Hamilton Ropner, Major L.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Briggs, J. Harold Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Sandeman, A. Stewart
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Wrstb'y)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Hartington, Marquess of Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Burman, J. B. Henderson, Capt. R. R, (Oxf'd, Henley) Smithers, Waldron
Campbell, E. T. Hilton, Cecil Sprot, Sir Alexander
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Holt, Captain H. P. Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hopkins, J W. W. Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Christle, J. A. Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's) Watts, Dr. T.
Connolly, M, Jephcott, A. R. Wells, S. R.
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Knox, Sir Alfred Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Lougher, L. Wise, Sir Fredric
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (l. of W.) Womersley, W. J.
Curzon, Captain Viscount MacIntyre, Ian Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Dalkeith, Earl of McLean, Major A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Malone, Major P. B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Dixey, A. C. Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Sir Cooper Rawson and Sir F. Meyer.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hirst, G. H. Saklatvala, Shapurji
Astor, Viscountess Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Salter. Dr. Alfred
Attlee, Clement Richard Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Smillie, Robert
Barnes. A. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Barr, J. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Batey, Joseph Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Briant, Frank Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Stamford, T. W.
Broad, F. A. Kelly, W. T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Bromley, J. Kennedy, T. Strickland, Sir Gerald
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Sullivan, Joseph
Cape, Thomas Kenyon, Barnet Sutton. J. E.
Clowes, S. Kirkwood, D. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lee, F. Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)
Couper, J. B. Livingstone, A. M. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Cove, W. G. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Lowth, T. Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Davies, Dr. Vernon Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Dennison, R. Lunn, William Thurtle, E.
Duckworth John Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) MacNeill-Weir, L. Townend, A. E.
Ellis, R. G. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
England, Colonel A. March, S. Viant, S. P.
Fenby, T. D, Maxton, James Warne, G. H.
Forrest, W. Morris, R. H. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Gosling, Harry Murnin, H. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Naylor, T. E. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Westwood, J.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Owen, Major G. Whiteley, W.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Palin, John Henry Wiggins, William Martin
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Paling, W. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Grudy, T. W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Potts, John S. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hall, G. H, (Merthyr Tydvil Ramsden, E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Rees, Sir Beddoe Windsor, Walter
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Richardson, H. (Houghton-le-Spring) Wright, W.
Hammersley, S. S. Riley, Ben Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Harris, Percy A. Ritson, J.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Robinson, Sir T. (Lanct, Stretford) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Rose, Frank H. Mr. Scrymgeour and Mr. Groves.