§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
This Bill, as has already been explained to the House, is a simple Measure with a single purpose. It proposes to require that every new dog racing track shall receive a licence from the local authority in the area where it is situated on such conditions as the authority sees fit to impose. It proposes, also, that existing tracks shall be licensed within a certain time. The Bill, as drafted, requires some emendation and amplification. For example, the Clause defining local authorities requires complete revision. In the case of the existing dog racing' tracks it seems to be fair and reasonable that they should have a much longer and more generous allowance of time between the passing of the Bill into law and the date on which it is required that a licence should be taken. I think it is also fair and reasonable that, in the case of existing tracks, there should be a right of appeal to a Government Department from the decision of a local authority. These Amendments, the promoters of the Measure are very willing to accept. They are Committee points and can be discussed in Committee.
The one matter which I would put before the House to-day, and the real point of the Bill, is the necessity of giving control to local authorities in a matter which vitally affects the well-being of a locality. At present, except for the rare cases that come under the Town Planning Act, there is not a vestigs of such control. That such control is desired, has been shown by what has been happening in recent months. I think I may say that local authorities are unanimous in a desire for this Measure. At any rate, we have heard no hint of any disapproval during the last three weeks. Apart from the resolutions of teachers and schools, philanthropic societies and religious bodies which have run into thousands, I, myself, have received no less than 123 memorials in favour of the Bill from local authorities of different kinds. If that is the case with an obscure back bench 546 Member, I tremble to think what the post-bag of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary must have been.
At the outset, there is one observation which I desire to make. I am not in any way particularly enamoured of the principle of local option, and I have no desire to see its undue extension. To my mind, most of the questions which concern the well-being of the nation should be settled nationally, and not locally. To take one example, which is indirectly touched by this Bill. The whole question of juvenile betting should be, and I hope soon will be, settled on a national basis. There are some questions in regard to which the right and natural authority is the locality, questions which vary in character and implication in different districts. I submit that one of these questions is the question of dog racing. Whether or not a licence should be granted for a track depends very much on the nature and needs of the district where the track is situated. After all, the principle of the Bill is only an extension of a familiar practice, because it is the local authority at present which licenses motion pictures and makes what conditions it pleases for their exhibition.
The sport of dog racing is a new-comer to these islands, an immigrant, like many other things good and bad, from the other side of the Atlantic. I am sure that hon. Members who have been to any of the good tracks will agree with me that it is a game full of attraction and interest. If they go to one of the better tracks, they will see a very large concourse of people obviously enjoying themselves. The whole thing is stage-managed admirably and in the most spectacular way. When the darkness begins and the lights are lowered elsewhere the illuminated ribbon of turf becomes, I am bound to say, not unlike the ribbon of green baize —the animated roulette board—to which it was compared in the picturesque description of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Then follows, for a few seconds, the wild rush of the dogs after the hare —again, an unfriendly critic might say, not at all unlike the game of petits chevaux, in which hon. Members have no doubt indulged in foreign watering-places. But I am bound to say that, to my mind, the whole thing has a very real interest and attraction. My only complaint is that there is far too little racing 547 and far too much waiting. In two hours or so, there are only three or four minutes of actual racing and one might say, as was said of Sir John Falstaff's tavern bill:but one half-pennyworth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack!But I dare say that is inevitable and, after all, I have that grievance against every racecourse which I have ever attended. I have no doubt that a great deal is to be said for the game of dog racing. There are few things more beautiful than the sight of a greyhound in motion. The sport is perfectly humane. It enables, at a very low price, the working classes to have healthy open-air amusement at an hour of the day when they can take advantage of it, and I am bound to say that, on the good courses, the whole thing is managed with the most scrupulous orderliness. There is a real desire on the part of those responsible for the sport to conduct the racing reputably and justly. The recently founded Greyhound Racing Club aspires to create a real standard and etiquette in the game, and to do for dog racing what the Jockey Club has long done for the turf.
All that can be said whole-heartedly in favour of the sport itself; but when we come to its appurtenances and consequences, we are on more delicate ground. I am bound to say I am not very much impressed by the arguments recently put up against any form of Parliamentary control. The Noble Lord who led a deputation to the Home Secretary —I am bound to respect his judgment, for he is a member of my own college—put up certain arguments with many of which I agree, but most of which were double-edged, and, in any case, do not touch the main point in this Bill. He declared that greyhound racing is a cure for boredom. I have no doubt it is, but there may be cures for boredom which, on public grounds, are much less desirable than the thing itself. He declared that greyhound racing was a preventive of anarchy and Bolshevism. I confess that I am always a little suspicious of these safeguards against Bolshevism. The cure may so often be worse than the disease. If this country were wholly given up to intoxication there would be no Bolshevism, because there would be no politics; but I 548 should prefer my countrymen to remain relatively sober even though some of them may stray into political heresy.
We are also told that greyhound racing has done much to reduce street betting. That may be so, but I should be surprised if, with all the facilities which are offered, the sum total of betting had not largely increased in any locality where a track is situated. We are also told that there has been a large diminution of drunkenness, and that greyhound racing has lowered the takings of the adjacent public-houses. I am sure that is true. A man cannot drink to excess if he is actively engaged with something else, but it may be a question whether the money lost to the publican has gone into the pockets of the local butcher, baker or grocer. It is much more likely to have gone into the pockets of the bookmakers. I do not know how productive industries may come to be defined later, but I am pretty certain that bookmaking is not one of them. I am always very suspicious when I hear an evil defended on the ground that it slightly abates some other evil. I remember in my time an Oxford don who was congratulated upon the quietness and the sobriety of the undergraduates. He replied, "It is no matter for congratulation. A quiet college and a sober college means a gambling college, and, personally, I think that a more dangerous thing."
I think a very strong case can be made out for the merits of greyhound racing as a sport, but I cannot see any case whatsoever against a measure of public control. That is the one matter which is before the House to-day—the consequences which may follow from this new sport as regards the well-being of the locality. I am speaking now wholly from the point of view of the local authorities. What are the dangers which a local authority must foresee and guard against? In the first place, a new racing track may seriously interfere with the amenities of a district. It must bring to it a large concourse of people from a wide area, some of them, no doubt, undesirable, and it must raise difficult questions of police and transport facilities. Is a local authority to have no right of decision in a matter like that? In the second place, a successful racing track may draw money away from the locality. It may seriously damage local trade and deplete local resources. Has a local authority no say in 549 a matter like that? In the third place, it may, it must, largely increase the amount of betting. That is the really cardinal point, and it is no good blinking it. Greyhound racing has become a very large financial interest. I understand there are 150 companies registered to exploit it. No doubt many of those companies will never go to allotment, and no doubt many will soon go bankrupt, but at this moment there are several millions of subscribed capital in this interest. One of the chief inducements to the investment of capital, one of the chief guarantees that profits will be earned on that capital, is found in the facilities it gives for mass betting.
I am one of those peculiar people to whom betting is fundamentally distasteful. I enjoy nothing more than attending a race meeting, but I am far too interested in the running of the horses to want to cumber my mind with anxieties about whether I am going to win or lose money on the result. But I readily admit that betting is a very ancient instinct in human nature, and that it is quite impossible to eradicate it. But it is one thing to admit this—I am speaking from the point of view of the local authorities —and quite another to justify the artificial creation of new opportunities for the practice on a large scale, to, so to speak, thrust temptation into the faces of the classes who are most likely to succumb to it and the least able to bear their losses. A local authority is bound to consider whether it dare make gambling too easy, whether it dare allow the offer of special inducements to men and women living near the margin of subsistence to hazard their hard-earned wages, which should go in the necessaries of life, on the result of a race. A local authority might say, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), that it would be an abominable thing if the children's Sunday dinner were dependent upon the result of a dog race on the Saturday night. This is the kind of question a local authority is bound to consider and the kind of danger which it must provide against. No doubt you cannot cure and put an end to folly, you cannot prevent folly, but you can prevent the creation of large-scale invitations to folly.
There is a danger that unless this sport is regulated it may drift into having a 550 chain of casinos over the whole country. On the Continent of Europe, where casinos are permitted by law, there are the strictest regulations. No one who is under 21 years of age is allowed to enter them. In Monte Carlo, as hon. Members are no doubt aware, the natives are not allowed to attend. In France no casino is permitted in any large city or near any large area of population. This new sport of greyhound racing demands a large adjacent population, and at present there are no regulations for it. Can it be seriously argued that this country, which forbids casinos by law, shall allow them to grow up by accident, entirely unlicensed and unchecked, with none of these protective regulations which foreign countries insist upon? That is the case for the local authorities.
It may be asked why horse racing, on which betting is permitted, is not brought into this Measure. It may be urged that this Bill is a vicious kind of class legislation, because the sport of the rich is untouched while the recreation of the masses is to be regulated. My answer is simple. The reason is simply that it is a recreation so accessible to the large masses of the people, that it is already so widely extended and capable of such indefinite expansion. Horse racing is, after all, a comparatively infrequent event. But greyhound racing is an almost daily fixture, and is spreading over the whole country. When you have a sport so widespread, however estimable it may be, it is essential that somehow or other it should be harmonised with the public interests. Greyhound racing authorities have calculated that there are only 40 tracks constructed or in preparation, and they estimate that the total number will not be more than half as many again, that is 60. Even if that forecast were correct, I still think there would be a strong case for this Measure. But I have the gravest doubts of its correctness, because I think it is based upon the idea that the licensing policy of the Greyhound Racing Club will be universal. The Greyhound Racing Club has very rightly and properly adopted a policy of strict limitation of licences. But no club, however high minded, however active, can be the proper licensing body; that must be the local authority. A club, however energetic, has no compulsory powers. The baser and the more dangerous kind of 551 race track—what is called a flapping track—is altogether outside its control. Moreover, I have heard a rumour of an uncanny thing called a trackless hare which can be put down on any sport ground in the country with very little capital expenditure. The whole sport is only beginning. No man can foretell its ultimate extent, and surely, while there is yet time, it is our duty to harmonise it with the public interests.
The very last thing which the promoters of this Bill desire is to do anything to cripple or injure a harmless and an interesting sport. We have no desire whatever, for the sake of some unattainable public virtue, to put an embargo upon cakes and ale. I myself believe that greyhound racing, properly handled, will become a very valuable and interesting thing in the life of the community, but that will only happen if now, while yet there is time, powers are given to harmonise it with the public interest. There is no reason to believe that any local authority would be unreasonable in this matter. Why should they be? A race track is a most valuable property for assessment. I do not believe that a, local authority will be inclined to refuse a licence or to make difficult conditions, unless the matter is clearly proved to be against the general interest.
This Bill deals not only with new tracks, but with existing race tracks. To those who may think this is a hardship, and talk about retrospective legislation, I would point out that any novelty in any civilised country is subject to subsequent regulation. These are the terms, the implied terms, under which it is introduced. I would also remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary months ago gave the most explicit warning to investors in greyhound racing companies that they were making their investments at their own risk. But a great deal of money has been spent on this sport in perfectly good faith, and a great deal of pains have been taken, and I think the best tracks are organised and managed by really responsible people. In these circumstances, I think it would be fair, as I have already said, to amend this Bill so as to do two things: in the first place, in the case of existing tracks, to allow an appeal to an independent tribunal in case a local authority refused a licence or imposed unreasonable condi- 552 tions; and I think there is no reason why, in Committee, we should not specify the grounds upon which a licence may be refused and on which a right of appeal may lie. Secondly, I think that a generous time should be allowed to elapse in the case of existing tracks before a licence is required, so that they may have time to put their house in order, if necessary, and to make arrangements with the local authority. I myself should be perfectly willing to see the time extended over the whole track-racing season of next year, so that the licensing time would come in the autumn of 1929, that suspicious season when, I understand, the benefits of the Budget are expected to mature.
This Measure is a logical carrying out of the democratic principles under which we live. It is an assertion of the right of the people of a district, through their elected representatives, to decide for themselves what is in their interests. Here we have a new sport, and a highly popular one, which is extending far and wide, and is capable of indefinite extension. It is a sport which, at the same time has a profound influence upon the well-being of a locality. Unless we act now vested interests will increase, and will daily become more difficult to control; and a thing which, if wisely and properly handled, might have been a valuable addition to the amenities of our life may become a malignant growth in the body of the State.
§ Mr. COMPTON
I beg to second the Motion.
I entirely associate myself with the remarks which the Mover of this Motion has made in connection with the Amendments which we are prepared to accept at a later stage. In taking up this question, I think I may claim to be able to speak with some little knowledge of the subject, because the first greyhound racing track was laid in my own division in Manchester. When this track was opened, I looked upon greyhound racing at the time with a great deal of faith. As one who is opposed to any sport which necessitates the shedding of blood, I felt that greyhound racing was an innovation tending in the right direction. Later on, certain objectionable features were brought to my notice, and then I felt as a public representative that due notice should be taken of what was going on. 553 In this Bill we claim not so much to deal with the moral side of greyhound racing, as to give power to the local authorities to look after the amenities of their particular district.
The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) said that there were 150 greyhound racing companies either completed or in the process of completion in this country, and in so far as many of those companies are concerned, no very serious objection has been taken by the local authorities. There is the case of the White City at Manchester. In this instance a company, which was formed in London, bore down upon Manchester and purchased some ground in the area of the Stretford local council, and that council felt that, having due regard to the amenities of their district, they had no desire for this track to be laid there. The promoters held a further meeting in London—I want to emphasise that, because it is often said that these tracks have been promoted by the people in the districts—and it was decided to defy the local authorities and proceed with the track. Last week, legal action was threatened by the local authority. Consequently, the ratepayers, in order to safeguard their interests, are taking legal action, while at the same time those responsible for the promotion of this greyhound track at Manchester are proceeding with the erection of the necessary buildings in defiance of the wishes of the local authority.
We claim in this Bill that local authorities require to be protected. It is true that the promoters of these tracks claim that a great amount of money has been spent upon these schemes. A statement has been made that during the last few years a sum of £4,000,000 has been invested in these tracks. According to the files of Somerset House, on 31st December last less than £1,000,000 had been invested in this way, and I am not aware that, in spite of the advice given by the Home Secretary, another £3,000,000 has been invested during the present year. While we are prepared to make due allowance for people who spend money in the promotion of these tracks, and to see that sufficient time is allowed them to put their house in order, we do know that there is a type of individual in the country who is prepared to find money for any kind of object, provided certain 554 gentlemen, like those associated with greyhound racing, are prepared to allow themselves to be identified with the scheme.
One can imagine a proposal, which, I believe, would be welcomed even by some people in this House, and in the City of London—I mean a fantastic proposal to have an overhead golf course constructed between Westminster Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. No doubt people would be found ready to finance such a proposal, but what would the Members of the House of Commons have to say about it? What would the London County Council, the trustees of St. Thomas's Hospital and the Archbishop of Canterbury have to say about it? In the case of the White City in Manchester, those who are in the same position as the interests to which I have just referred are being ridden over roughshod by the promoters of this track. I think that is unfair. It is the duty of Parliament to see that the interests of local authorities are safeguarded, and that they should have power to protect the amenities of their own district. The local authorities from one end of the country to the other are unanimous in their opinion that these powers should be granted. I am the representative of a division in which we had the first greyhound racing track, and I have not received one letter of complaint with regard to my activities in promoting this opposition and in defending the localities.
It is true that I have received petitions and recommendations signed in bulk with regard to betting. I agree that on the betting side much can be said, but the promoters of this Bill are more concerned with the protection of local authorities than the moral aspect of this question. It will be said by the opponents of this Measure that our suggestion with regard to juvenile betting has no foundation. Last year and this year I visited some of the tracks, and I am bound to say that during the last few weeks there has certainly not been, as far as I could see, the same amount of juvenile betting that occurred on previous occasions when I visited those tracks. If juvenile betting has been eradicated in any way in regard to dog racing, it is certainly due to the efforts of the promoters of this Bill who first drew attention to this evil. At any rate, we can lay claim to that improvement.
555 We do not want to dwell on the moral aspect of the question. Those who are promoting this Bill are being charged with promoting grandmotherly legislation, and they say that we are kill-joys as far as sports are concerned. I have never been associated with anything of that kind. We have also been accused of being the tool of cinema proprietors and publicans, but that accusation is quite unfounded. My only object in supporting this Bill is to serve the interests of the public and the local authorities, and for these reasons I ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill, which I know will be accepted by every local authority throughout the country.
§ Sir FRANK MEYER
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
I will not conceal from the House for one moment my cordial and heartfelt dislike of this Measure. I view it with the same feeling of dislike and, if I may say so without offence, contempt, which I have for all Measures which are put forward with either the avowed or the concealed object of raising the moral tone of the people of this country by restrictive or oppressive legislation. I believe them to be ineffective and futile in their results. The Mover and Seconder of this Bill have been so moderate in their statements that to a certain extent they have —no doubt intentionally—cut away the ground from under the feet of those who are opposing this Bill. To-day they have cooed like doves, but they and their supporters—those who have for the last six months carried ma a very active propaganda in favour of this Bill—have not cooed so gently in the past; they have roared more like lions.
The Mover of the Bill has paid a very high tribute to the sport of dog racing, a tribute so high that it will be quite unnecessary for me to-day to defend it on those grounds. It seems to me that my hon. Friend had only one complaint. I would christen him on this occasion the Oliver Twist of dog racing, for his only complaint was that there was not enough; he wanted more. Four minutes during a period of two hours seemed to him to be insufficient. He admitted that the sport was clean, and humane, and attractive, and that it had many other 556 qualities, which I have no desire to emphasise, since he has paid them such a tribute. Why, then, has this sport been singled out from all other sports and forms of entertainment to be the subject of this Measure, which is to put it under local control? That is the real problem to-day. Hon. Members know that horse racing is not subject to local control, nor pony racing, nor coursing, nor whippet racing, football, cricket or boxing. None of these sports and entertainments is subject to local control. No promoter has to go to the local authority to obtain sanction for any of these sports or entertainments, and I very much doubt if there are many hon. Members who would rise in their places in this House and advocate that promoters of any of these sports should have to go to a local authority to obtain sanction.
Why, then, is dog racing singled out for this particular attention? My hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading was very frank. He stated quite clearly what it would have been my duty to put before the House had he not done so. It is the betting attached to clog racing which makes him and his friends desirous of bringing it under local control. I should not be so hypocritical as to pretend for one moment that greyhound racing could be carried on without betting; it would be folly to do so; but neither could horse racing; neither could pony racing; and, while I would not venture to say that football could not be carried on without betting, because the game of Rugby football is largely carried on without betting, I do think that Association football would lose a very large number of its supporters, and the attendances would be largely decreased—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Hon. Members above the Gangway say "No!" Do they deny that an enormous amount of betting takes place on professional Association football, not only on the ground, but with street bookmakers and in coupon competitions? Do hon. Members deny that? If they do not, their whole case falls to the ground.
This sport is to be singled out from all others because there is betting attached to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Because of the bettors!"] I am afraid that my brain is not capable of appreciating the distinction. At any rate, that is the reason, and a great deal of prejudice has been im- 557 ported into this controversy, and phrases have been used by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen which have, in my opinion, gone a considerable way in misleading the public mind as to what is really going on in connection with betting and dog racing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose absence we all deeply deplore, has compared this sport to "an animated roulette board"; and I think that someone else has said that it is "a mere betting machine." There is a very great distinction between betting on greyhound racing and roulette. I can see no distinction between betting on greyhound racing and betting on horse racing; I say that frankly; but there is a great distinction between that and roulette. In the one case you are playing against a machine; in the other case you are, at any rate, supporting your judgment. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh at that. Will they also laugh when I say that when you back a racehorse you are supporting your judgment? If they do not laugh then, what is the distinction? In the one case you are betting against a machine, and in the other you are betting with a human factor, the bookmaker.
It is proved beyond a shadow of doubt that in the case of all these betting machines—roulette tables, petits chevaux, and all the others—the bank must win; there is a mathematical certainty in its favour; but there is no certainty that any individual bookmaker is going to win from any individual backer, because, foolish as betting may be, it would not go on as it does now, and as it has done for hundreds of years past, if it were not the case that a very fair proportion of the people who bet with bookmakers win. There is also this distinction, and it is a very serious one, between betting with a machine and betting with other human beings, that whereas, when there is an opportunity of gambling with a machine, many foolish people think that they can win fortunes, and plunge immensely, hazarding their whole possessions in the hope of winning some immense sum, it is the very greatest exception—the cases are so few as to be not worth considering —for people to bet in these large sums on dog racing. People back their fancy for amusement; they do not go there hoping to turn their few shillings into a vast fortune, as people do who go to 558 Monte Carlo and other places where there are gambling machines. It may seem to some hon. Members that this is a superficial distinction, but it is a very vital one. In the one case, people back their fancy for a sum that is probably within their means, though, unfortunately, in some cases it may be beyond their means, while in the other case they gamble with a machine in the hope of making a fortune.
As I have said, the whole distinction comes down to betting. It had been my intention to deal with the allegations as to juvenile betting, but neither the Mover nor the Seconder of the Bill laid any emphasis on this, having dropped that part of the propaganda, which was so valuable in obtaining those 288 signatures. Three or four months ago, when I was first approached and asked to sign, I was told that juvenile betting was a curse all over the country, and was increasing on these tracks. We do not hear much about it now. Why? Because the facts prove that it never existed. There is juvenile betting, not only on greyhound racing tracks, but in the streets, and possibly at race meetings and football matches, but it is on a diminutive scale, and there is no more of it at greyhound meetings than anywhere else. In fact, it is less likely to take place there, in the full view of the police and the stewards, than in back streets and courts. There is absolutely no evidence to show that greyhound racing leads to an increase of juvenile betting.
I do not propose, therefore, to deal with the question of juvenile betting at any length. I have dealt with the question of betting, and the distinction between backing your fancy on the racecourse or at the greyhound meetings and betting with roulette or other machines. I am quite aware that there are a few Members who would be glad to make betting illegal altogether. I respect all people for their convictions. No doubt the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), the Noble Lady if she were here, the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) and others would be prepared to go to the extent of asking Parliament to pass such legislation as would make betting as difficult as possible, if not impossible, but I do not think any party would be prepared to go before the electors with the item in their programme of making betting on horse racing or 559 greyhound racing illegal. If that is so, let us face the facts and be honest about it. If we admit, as we must, that betting exists and cannot be prevented, and that any attempt to repress it merely drives it underground, what is the good of trying to legislate against it? Hon. Members, realising that and knowing that a frontal attack of that kind is bound to fail, have endeavoured to attack this thing from the flank. They dare not assault it frontally. They make a flank attack, and they are using the local authorities, who are most unsuitable bodies for the purpose. Local authorities have no such powers, and no such powers are being sought with regard to racecourses, boxing matches, football grounds, and so forth.
The hon. Member said there was a precedent in the matter of cinemas. That is on an entirely different basis. The reasons why local authorities are given control over what films may be shown in cinemas are purely reasons of public decency and morality. Some authority there must be, whether it be a censor in London or the local authorities, who shall have power to say there shall not be presented to the public either a play or a picture which is indecent, but there is no question of anything immoral or indecent or lowering or depraved going on at greyhound meetings, so that the analogy is really not a true one. We have heard nothing to-day about pawnbrokers' shops full of the furniture of the poor working man lost through greyhound racing. If there are instances that could be brought forward, I could match them all with similar instances of people, before greyhound racing was ever invented, pawning their goods as the result of betting on races or football or gambling at cards. Those instances are pure prejudice and propaganda and have no bearing whatever on this matter.
I said just now that local authorities were most unsuitable bodies for dealing with this matter. Who is it who deals with the question whether licences shall be granted for the sale of drink? Is it the local authorities? No, it is the magistrates—a non-elected body. Who is it who deals with the question of giving licences for dancing halls? As a rule the magistrates. [An HON. MEMBER: "The London County Council."] I may be mistaken, but I thought it was the magis- 560 trates. Local authorities, I think everyone will agree, are not elected for the purpose of controlling the morals of those who live in their areas. They are elected on entirely different issues, some times on party issues, but in any case you will not find in the programme of any local councillor standing for election the question whether he is against or for betting or greyhound racing. It is most dangerous to put into the hands of a body elected for entirely different purposes the choice of deciding, on the personal predilections of each councillor, whether or not any particular track is to be licensed. Imagine the situation of a local authority where two or three promoters of tracks come to them and they have to decide between those promoters —a most invidious position to put local authorities into and a most undesirable one in every way. If such a decision has to be made, it should be made in a court of law before a magistrate, and the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman that there should be an appeal in the case of existing tracks from the decision of a local authority to a Government Department is, I think, even more undesirable. That is an exaltation of bureaucracy which I strongly deprecate. It seems to me that the "Times" in its leading article to-day, in which it almost issued a Whip to supporters of this Measure to attend in their big battalions lest misfortune should attend them, as it has attended certain promoters of Bills on previous Fridays, gives away the whole case for the Bill. It is not often that one feels desirous of quoting in this House from the Press, but I think one is justified, when a paper of this importance writes a leading article on the subject, in calling attention to one of its phrases. They say:For the rest, the reason why dog-racing is singled out for control by local authorities is, as Mr. Buchan has said, its great and increasing magnitude.It is the popularity. Because it is so popular, because so many people go there and like it and enjoy it, it is to be singled out for this particular treatment, different from all other sports and entertainments. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that this is a democratic principle. If he were to say that in each area a referendum was to be taken as to whether the people wanted dog racing, I 561 should say it was democratic, but to ask local councillors elected on entirely different issues to decide it without consulting their constituents seems to me far from democratic. Perhaps in this I may not have the sympathy of the House, but I go much further. I say in matters of the daily Life of the people, the way they amuse themselves, the way they spend their money and their time, no majority has any right to coerce a minority, unless that minority by doing what it is doing is inflicting injury on the majority. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] When I enunciated that principle not long ago in Committee on the Shop Hours Bill, on the point of taking the view of the local people and deciding in that way, I did not get very much support from hon. Members above the Gangway. Their view was that shops should be closed at 6 o'clock, regardless of the views of the public. I say that no minority should he coerced by a majority on matters where the majority is not injured. The minority may be injuring themselves. The people who go to the greyhound track may be doing something foolish, they may be losing their money, but they are not injuring the majority. What right has the majority, unless there is an offence against decency or order, to interfere with them or prevent them from enjoying themselves?
The hon. Gentleman has saved me the trouble of putting forward any facts or statistics in favour of greyhound racing. He has done that himself. He has paid it a very high tribute. He has told us what I was going to tell the House, that there are only 40 or 50 tracks in existence. We are told there are enormous numbers tempting people all over the place. At present there is one track per million of inhabitants. What a dreadful increase! One track per million inhabitants! We were told that if it were not for this Bill, other tracks might spring up—50, 80, 100 or 200 of them. There is no need for this Bill. Economic circumstances are going to settle this matter. A great many of the tracks in existence now are not paying their way, and any promoter desirous of raising money now to start a new track would find the position very different from what it was when money was being sought in the first flush of the boom of this new sport. [Interruption.] Perhaps an hon. Gentleman is referring to 562 what the Home Secretary said, namely, that it did put a check—and a very salutary check—upon the speculation that was going on. I do not think that those people who previously invested their money are very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman but, at any rate, it saved others from losing their money. It was quite obvious from the purely economic and financial point of view that the public were being asked to subscribe money for far too many tracks. They would have lost their money—not on account of this Bill—as there is only room for one track, and at most, two tracks, in the very largest centres of population, and any attempt to increase tracks in small places where the population is not sufficient is bound to be a failure. Those connected with the industry know that by now, and there is no danger of any large increase in the number of tracks.
I can see no logical reason for discriminating between this sport and entertainment and other sports. This Bill seems to me to be entirely unnecessary, uncalled for and an interference in no way justifiable by what has taken place hitherto. I hope Members of the House will consider very seriously before they pass this Measure. I know I have no hope from hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway—no hope at all. They believe in all forms of restriction. They want control of the lives of the people, and they say they are in favour of freedom. Is there any reason why a man should not go to greyhound racing?
Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL
There is good reason why I should protect my children from being tempted to go to greyhound racing.
§ Sir F. MEYER
The hon. Gentleman thinks that it is the duty of the State to protect his children from being tempted to go to race meetings. He does not consider that parental authority, example, and education are sufficient without the State having to interfere. That seems to me to be the Socialist case for this Measure put in a nutshell. I have not much hope from the gallant band below the gangway behind me. They have been associated always throughout their history as a party with legislation of a kill-joy nature. I am bound to say that I am surprised at some of the names backing this Bill. I am bitterly disappointed to find so much 563 support for it amongst Members of my own party. I did think they were prepared to allow the working man and the middle class man to decide for themselves how they are to spend their evenings and how they are to spend their money, just as the rich man can decide whether he shall go to Ascot and to other forms of entertainment. I am astonished to find on the back of this Bill the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas). He will not mind my referring to it. Since when has the right hon. Gentleman considered it to be wrong for a man to back his fancy? I should be very interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say on that subject. Since when has he become a convert. May I take it, that in future I shall no longer have the pleasure of the genial company and presence of the right hon. Gentleman on those rare occasions when I tear myself away from the duties of this House to watch a little racing at Ascot or Sandown? If I do see the right hon. Gentleman there I shall be very much surprised that so sturdy a democrat, while giving by his presence his sanction to the noble sport of horse racing, should do anything whatever to place an obstacle in the way of the working man going in the evening—the only time he can go—to a form of racing, the only one perhaps that he can afford, to do exactly what the right hon. Gentleman and I are able to do sometimes in the daytime.
I very much hope that the House will not pass this Measure. I may be overoptimistic in thinking so. If it passes this Measure because of the assiduous propaganda which has been going on during the past six months, propaganda, which, I must say, without meaning any offence, must be the work of cranks and faddists, it will pass legislation which is not desired, is not required, is futile in its conception, and which will be quite unsuccessful in its results. I believe that if the House does pass such a Measure, it will be doing something that is quite out of accord with the dignity and traditions of Parliament.
§ Colonel Sir ARTHUR HOLBROOK
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so on the broad principle that I am opposed to the nationalisation and municipalisation of any industry in this 564 country. I think I may declare myself to be the most unprejudiced opponent of this Bill. I have never been on a racecourse in my life, I have never seen greyhound racing in my life, and I have never made a bet on a horse in nay life. I feel that while hon. Members on the other side of the House are always desirous of legislating for shorter hours and asking that the working men they represent should have greater facilities for recreation, surely it is against their common principle to oppose the one sport from which the working men seem to have the best chance of getting some recreation in their leisure time. It has been truly said that few people impair their sight by looking on the bright side of things. I always look on the bright side of things. I am an optimist of the first water. I believe from my own reading—I have no practical knowledge of it—that greyhound racing has proved a tremendous attraction to men in their evening leisure. I am rather surprised that any representatives on the opposite side of the House who are advocates of temperance should oppose the Measure, because we hear on all hands that where racing tracks exist the publicans are all complaining that, owing to the existence of greyhound racing, their businesses are being depleted. Surely, on those grounds alone, hon. Members ought to give some proper consideration to the welfare of their people, and let them have more recreation without any control whatever.
I want to associate myself with the hon. Member who moved the Amendment and to say how—I will not say astonished, but how pleased I was at the moderate way the Bill has been placed before the House to-day. The hon. Member who proposed the Bill seemed to me to put forward every argument in favour of the retention of greyhound racing tracks without any control. I hope that, upon consideration, hon. Members opposite will realise that in their opposition to this sport they are putting a great injustice upon their own class. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading suggested that this was a question which should be left to local option. I do not agree. I think that greyhound racing is a matter of national importance, and that it is our duty as legislators to do what we can to provide amusement of a harmless character for the people. The hon. 565 Member admitted that greyhound racing is harmless in all respects. I was rather amazed that no reference was made to the question of juvenile betting, because since this Measure has been before the House I have been inundated with communications stating that greyhound racing causes a great deal of juvenile betting. The police have been making inquiries and their reports are strongly against the allegation that juvenile betting has been encouraged by greyhound racing, and I presume that, consequently, the opponents of greyhound racing have been compelled to drop that part of their propaganda.
At the present time greyhound races are conducted under the control of two organisations. A man like Lord Askwith who, for philanthropic reasons, has been doing all that he could to promote the welfare and well-being of the working classes of this country, has interested himself in this sport, and a former hon. Member of this House, a friend of mine, General Seely, has also interested himself in this sport, not for any particular advantage that he will get from it, but because he believes that the promotion of greyhound racing will give sport to the great masses of our people. The two associations concerned are the National Greyhound Racing Club and the National Greyhound Racing Society, and I noticed in yesterday's "Times" that two applications, which had been made to the Association before greyhound tracks could be adopted, had been refused. That rather shows that these bodies are exercising great discrimination in the selection of places where races can take place.
I do appeal to hon. Members opposite not to be carried away by a lot of the clap-trap which is always indulged in when Measures of this kind are before us, but to look at the question from a purely impartial point of view. I have no interest in greyhound racing or in horse racing; my life has been too busy to enable me to pay attention to these matters, but I do protest that this is a matter which should be left to the good sense of the people. When I was a young man I was led to follow the advice of the great leader whom I much respected, Lord Beaconsfield, who always warned this country to trust the people. If we leave the matter in the hands of the people, they will see that right is done. 566 [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, but I do not take quite the same view as hon. Members opposite. I know that by trusting the people the common sense of the masses of this country, who are always in favour of maintaining law and order, will see, as has been proved by the great crowds at the greyhound meetings, that law and order are always maintained.
There is no crowd in the world so orderly as the British crowd. Therefore, why should we do anything in this House to interfere with the reasonable amusement and recreations of the great masses of this country who can only get their leisure in the evenings? This is the only form of sport that they can adopt. If this sport is to be put under the control of the municipalities, why not put coursing and whippet racing in the mining districts under the control of the local authorities? Would any hon. Member opposite dare to ask this House to pass a Bill which would put whippet racing under the control of the local authorities? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] No hon. Member opposite would dare to make such a proposition. The Mover of the Second Reading said that he had no desire to interfere with the progress of this very harmless sport. I agree with him in that respect, and I do ask the House not to be carried away by sentimental ideas, but to look the position clearly and fairly in the face, as commonsense individuals and common-sense Englishmen, and, if we do that we shall find that the progress of greyhound racing will not in any way interfere with the morality of our people.
There is one Clause of the Bill to which I take strong exception, and that is the bringing of the existing tracks under the ægis of the local authorities. The Mover of the Second Reading was very careful to say that that matter could be amended in Committee, but there is no guarantee of that. It would be an outrageous interference with public rights for this House to interfere with greyhound racing tracks that are already in existence. On these grounds, and on the general ground of our looking after the interests of the great masses of this country and giving them every opportunity for reasonable and harmless recreation, I ask the House not to give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I do not think that any exception can be taken by the promoters or the opponents of the Bill to the general tone of the Debate, and I intend to approach the matter in the same spirit. When we talk about protecting the interests of the working classes and we express our anxiety in regard to their interests, do let us keep in mind the fact that the working classes will not judge from speeches of that kind. It is no good to pretend that every supporter or every opponent of this Bill is speaking purely in the interests of the working classes. I know the working classes as well as anybody, and I do not want to be associated with anyone who can be termed a kill-joy, because I believe honestly that opportunity for sound and healthy recreation is as essential to the working classes as to any other class.
The Mover of the Amendment, the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer), examined the credentials of those associated with the Bill. As far as my own party are concerned, he thought that they are hopeless, that as far as the Liberal party are concerned, he came to the conclusion that they have always been hopeless, and that as far as the Members of his own side are concerned, they are becoming hopeless. Curiously enough, he had a good word for me. He said that it might be true that my supporters would kill anything, that the Liberal party had always killed everything, and that some of his own political friends were going to do the same, but he added, "What is to be said of the right hon. Member for Derby, when I meet him at Ascot and I meet him at Sandown Park, and I say to him, 'How can you square your conscience with your action on the Dog Racing Bill'"? I think that is a fair summary of what the hon. Member said.
§ Sir F. MEYER indicated assent.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I differentiate very much between horse racing and dog racing, and I think a case can be made out for that differentiation. I anticipated that question from the hon. Member. If the hon. Gentleman had not mentioned it, I would not say what I am going to say. No one obtains greater pleasure than myself from attending a race meeting. I have always done at race 568 meetings what I have done in every form of sport. I have never gone anyhere or indulged in any sport without taking my family with me. Although I have seen my own photographs reproduced in the press in connection with race meetings, from the day that dog racing was brought in I have never attended a race meeting, and deliberately I have not attended because I did not want anyone to say "What is the difference between your going to horse races and going to dog races?" I do differentiate, but I felt that at least I would make my own position quite clear on the matter. That is the answer and a fair answer to the hon. Gentleman.
I want now to come right away to the question of exaggeration. The hon. Gentleman said that there had been much exaggeration with regard to dog racing and this Bill. Would he limit that exaggeration to those who are opposing the Bill? What is to be said of this published document that I have in my hands? It is entitled "Actual facts about Greyhound Racing." Let us see what it has to say about exaggeration. Here is one statement from it:A pawnbroker of Smallbrook Street, Birmingham, for example, reports that the ordinary public pledging has never been so poor as in 1927, especially during the last six months, but, he said, he lent more money to bookmakers than he had lent for the previous four years, and his stockrooms are full up with book-makers' stools, bags and diamond rings.I would ask my hon. Friend whether, as exaggeration, anything could be said to equal that statement? That is solemnly urged as a reason and an argument in favour of dog racing. In the same publication Lord Askwith is brought in:There can be no doubt that greyhound racing meets the wishes of tens of thousands of people who almost by themselves took it in hand and started it.Was there every such a travesty of fact? I am not now arguing whether dog racing is good or bad, but I ask, was there ever such an exaggeration as one finds in both those statements? I merely say to the hon. Gentleman, "Yes, if there have been exaggerations on the one side so far as the supporters are concerned, I know of nothing that can quite equal as an exaggeration on the other side the two statements that I have read out." Let us come to the other side. The Seconder of the Motion for the rejection of the Bill 569 did so on the ground that he believes in trusting the people. I would ask him what better or fairer means there are of trusting the people than through the local authorities? The local authorities are the only local bodies that the people themselves can elect.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I would ask the House to judge that observation. The House knows perfectly well that there come up from time to time questions with which local authorities must deal, though it can be said that they were never elected for the purpose of dealing with such questions. But they are the only elected representatives of the people in the locality. Let me give a simple illustration from my own constituency. The Town Council of Derby unanimously opposed the opening of a dog-racing track. Liberals, Conservatives and Labour were unanimous. You may argue that they were wrong, but that was their considered view as the representatives of the people of Derby. In spite of their decision they have no power whatever to stop the opening of a track. Is that fair? Make all the claims that you can for dog racing, but I ask, is there any Member of the House who would say that when the Town Council, representing all sections of the people, had said unanimously that a certain form of sport was undesirable, there was justification for anyone else declaring, "No; never mind what the Town Council think, we are better judges than they are"? That is the actual position in my own constituency and it is the position that may be found all over the country.
The curious thing is to what extent and how many of these people have acted in defiance of the local authorities by bribery. I do not mean corrupt bribery, but temptations offered for land, and all manner of things offered, in order to defy the local authorities. Do keep in mind the fact that those who oppose this Bill to-day are opposed to the local authorities being responsible for the issue of the licences. The contention is that the local authorities do not represent the wishes of the people. The Mover of the rejection of the Bill said that he would not mind a referendum. Carry that 570 proposal to its logical conclusion. Suppose that the local authority does not represent the view of the majority of the people. Every November there is an opportunity for the people themselves to give expression to their views regarding their representatives.
§ Sir F. MEYER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is misinterpreting what I said. I stated that the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading had said it was never practicable, this method of deciding. I said, "No, the proper method was to take a referendum of the people," but I did not consider it right that a majority should coerce a minority in this matter, even by means of a referendum.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The hon. Member says "the majority," but do let us be practical. The man who is a drunkard and a nuisance can equally object when the majority say that he is a public nuisance and a danger and must be protected. I live in Dulwich. Only a few months ago every effort was made to turn the Crystal Palace into a dog-racing track. What happened? There was not a soul in that village or in the neighbourhood who did not rise in revolt. Why? They said, "We are not going to have this temptation surrounding Dulwich College, where our boys are." It was not the local authority that stopped it there; it was public opinion.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The hon. Member agrees, but the difference is this, that the class of people in Dulwich, and their influence and position were such that what they were able to do the people in West Ham—[An HON. MEMBER: "And Manchester"]—and in Manchester were denied the opportunity of doing. I refuse to believe that the parents of Manchester were not as entitled as the parents of Dulwich to protect their children, and this Bill would give them that opportunity. The hon. Member has said that there is no danger arising from it. Are he and his friends quite sure of that? Have they made personal inquiries as to what is taking place? Can this House be happy with the knowledge that three nights a week there are hundreds of chars-a-bane waiting outside the works? The men do not go home, they do not go to their tea, 571 they are not with their families; they are driven straight from the works to these places. It may be said that they ought to protect themselves, but there are occasions when we have to protect people from themselves. Ask employers of labour. I have discussed it with employers of labour, and not one, but dozens, have said to me that it is impossible to get overtime or a job finished at night. These are things you can inquire into personally, not by pamphlets or leaflets, but by a personal examination and investigation of those who are conversant with it.
A large employer of labour, who does not object to his name being published, sent a letter which, if challenged, I can quote, in which he tells me himself that he had to interfere in his own works because there were numbers of his men whose wages were actually mortgaged before Friday when they drew them. In other words, they drew no wages on Friday because there were men inside the works who bad actually lent them money during the week, and when pay day came they had to hand their money over to these men. I made the statement before the right hon. Gentleman that I knew of oases about Sunday dinners. The quotation has been used against me, but I repeat that statement now, and I say that, no matter what our views may be, none of us could be happy or content or feel that we were doing right if we knew that there were thousands of children whose Sunday dinner was dependent on a race on Friday night. That is true. It may be said, of course, that it is equally true about horse racing, and I do not disagree with that, but the difference is this, that in dog racing there is far more temptation and far more opportunity. There are 101 opportunities in dog racing compared with horse racing, because we know very well that there are no night meetings in horse racing. That is the real difference between the temptations in the two cases. But I still come back to this question: What is the answer of the critics of this Bill to the simple demand that we make that the local authority in the end must be the best judge? That is the real answer you have to-give in voting against this Bill. It is not even the merits of dog racing that are involved, not even the evils which I have 572 pointed out, not even the virtues of it which have been pointed out by the hon. Member. None of those questions are involved in the vote which we have to give. The simple issue is whether our local authorities, elected by the people themselves, should not be the best judges.
Let me take one other point. I wonder if hon. Members of this House have known of cases, as I have known, where a public house has been set up or about to be opened in a particular locality. What about the rights of those who object either to the depreciation of their property or to the possibility of a public house being a nuisance? To whom do they appeal? The law provides them a right of appeal, and it is to local people that they appeal. They appeal to the local magistrates, who are conversant with all the local circumstances, and I say that in this Bill provision is made for the same kind of appeal and for the same kind of knowledge to be exercised.
Therefore, I would say, in conclusion, that I hope this Bill will obtain a Second Reading. I knew that I should be subject to criticism because of my support of it, but I ask the House to believe me when I say that I am associated, and shall continue to associate, with all kinds of sport. I believe in healthy, happy recreation. I believe it is a good thing for men tied up in a factory week after week to have an opportunity of such recreation. When the hon. Gentleman says, "Compare it with football," he cannot know anything about it. So far as Rugby football is concerned, he would not dare suggest a comparison, but take Association football. Go to Woolwich, to Chelsea, to Manchester, to any big football match, on a Saturday afternoon, and instead of seeing what you see at a dog race, you do not see a bookmaker.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Exactly. Not only do you not see them, but they are not allowed. I admit, quite frankly, that there is far too much tendency, and a very bad tendency, in the direction of betting by coupons, but that is an entirely different thing from 40,000 or 50,000 people enjoying an hour and a, half's entertainment at a football match. As to dog racing being clean, honest sport, well, the less said about that the better. 573 There are crooks in all sports. I know perfectly well, as I have made some inquiries, and I have found that chewing gum was put on some of the dogs' paws to show what bad form they were in. I know of some others that had some sponge cake just before they were going to run. The same kind of thing could be said of all kinds of sport, doubtless, and I do not denounce or oppose dog racing on those grounds, but I oppose it because I believe it is a bad thing for the working classes and a bad thing for this country. I believe we ought to protect people who cannot protect themselves, and, above all, I believe we have a right to protect the children. My final point is that a local authority, elected by the people, are the best judges of what ought to be good for the health and happiness of the people, and ought not to be deprived of an opportunity of using a veto which, in their judgment, is in the best interests of those whom they represent.
§ Viscount SANDON
I am very anxious that the promoters of this Measure and the Government should consider the propriety of referring this question, after the Bill has received a Second Reading, to a Select Committee. I was struck by a remark in the speech of the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) to the effect that he would be very surprised if the evils of betting, on balance, in the case of these greyhound races were not greater than the benefits urged by the promoters of them. That is just the position with which we are faced. People would be surprised if this or that were proved, but we shall never have an opportunity, under the normal procedure of this House, of finding out what is the exact position. From the inquiries that I have made, I think it is certain that the great bulk of Members have, like myself, no knowledge on this question, and I am strongly of the opinion that efforts should be made by this House to find out exactly what are the real position and facts. Both sides, we are assured, have the moral aspect in view and believe that it can be used to back up their case. Are we going to be able to decide that by discussion which will take broad and general rather than specific lines, either on the Floor of this House or in a Standing Committee upstairs?
574 It has lately become a fashion, and a desirable fashion, to legislate on the basis of inquiries. We have adopted that procedure with legislation on issues as old as the hills, which have been coming on for generations. How much more, in an issue which has arisen almost in the last year, is a case to be made out for having a thorough investigation before we finally decide what we are to do. If this Bill is passed, and goes to a Committee, we shall be flooded out with the ordinary kind of propaganda from both sides of a contradictory nature, and worst of all, contradictory as to facts, and we shall be largely guided in the end by predilection and prejudice. Both sides ought to have an opportunity of stating their case in the only satisfactory way, namely, by evidence. I know that the strong objection to procedure of this kind is that it involves delay, but the promoters have wisely said that they are prepared to postpone the operation of the Bill until a considerable time has elapsed, so as to give greyhound racing tracks time to make their arrangements, if that be done, it is not likely that the delay of a Select Committee will involve the actual operation of the Act coming into force at any later date.
We know even by recent experience that procedure by Select Committee is not fatal to a Bill. We had an instance in one of the best Measures we have ever passed —that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aston (Sir E. Cecil)—in the Judicial Proceedings (Reports) Act. That was passed as the result of the procedure of a Select Committee. I believe every bit as much as anyone above the Gangway, or more, in the principle that the State is quite definitely involved in this question of gambling. I do not in any way share the point of view of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer); I believe the State is involved in responsibility as to dealing with this matter, but I equally believe that we have to make absolutely sure as to what the facts are in this case. It may turn out that the best method would be to take drastic steps, in the first place, with regard to the prohibition of juvenile betting. I share the view of the hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, who made the point that he disliked matters in the ordinary course of events being put on to local authorities, when they are 575 really of a national character. We have had evidence in many directions, both political and social, where the placing of this type of responsibility on local authorities has not had the desired result. We have had it in the case of magistrates in licensing matters and in innumerable instances both social and political which have been made issues in local elections, which we would far rather have seen kept out, and this will, undoubtedly, arise if this Bill is passed. I do not by any means rule out the procedure under this Bill being adopted. I think that it may be found necessary, but I say that it is something which is against all British instincts that local authorities should interfere with our freedom in matters of this kind, unless the case for action can be substantiated up to the hilt.
It is a moot point as to whether in this case we are not starting at the wrong end, and whether we ought not to look at it, less from the point of view of greyhound racing, and more from the point of betting, and consider whether it is not a question really of prohibiting bookmakers going on to the course, as is done in football. I think that would be the better way of dealing with it if the case be proved. It may be urged that the net result would be the same and that it would even kill dog racing, but even so it would be a preferable method as it would deal with the evil itself instead of merely with an incident to it. I am going to support this Bill in any case. As far as I can see, the balance of opinion as to facts is in its favour, but I should not be satisfied that justice has been done unless there is a proper investigation, in which we can call the police, clergy, local authorities and others, who are prepared to give evidence as to what the actual experience has been. As has been mentioned, there is the objection also in principle to interfering with a sport that is not ours. I think golf a stupid game, but I never suggest impeding others. There is another thing which many people who are keen on this Bill are apt to overlook. There is a feeling, as the result of propaganda which has been put forward by those who wish to see the Bill pass, that if we can only get this Bill through, we have "ticked off" one social problem. But social workers will tell you that the evil of gambling was growing 576 long before greyhound racing became an issue. The broad fact of the disastrous effect on the working class and others does not arise merely in connection with greyhound racing, and there is a grave danger, I am certain, that many will think, if we pass this Bill, that in future they need not worry about this moral scourge, as Parliament has killed it. This would be lamentable. I feel most strongly that, as a general point of principle, we are in great danger of being swept off our feet by the emotions and passions of the moment. Just think of the numerous Bills that we get which have to wait year after year before time can be found for them. We sit on a subject, and turn it upside down in our minds before it is decided on years hence. This particular question has come out of the blue, and we want to deal with it at once while the blood is hot in our heads, but we should really make sure of what the whole position is before we take any steps.
I do not want to introduce a partisan or what anyone might consider an objectionable note into this controversy, but I must admit that I did find it a sinister portent when I saw names of individuals, of perhaps not so much individuals as organisations, involved in this appeal for the Bill to be passed, which were involved over the coal dispute two years ago in a direction to which, many of us, took very strong exception. It is important that we should not allow ourselves to be rushed into the matter, and there is a real danger of it. I shall vote for the Bill, because I think it is important that the matter should be thrashed out. On balance, it looks as if the promoters have made their case, but there is also an opposition case, and I am convinced that it will not be heard in a satisfactory manner unless we have it referred to a Select Committee. If ever there were a case for this procedure, it is here. It will be unfortunate if the promoters of the Bill feel that this is an effort to sidetrack it. The delay should not be any greater than the delay consequent upon the Amendments which the promoters have already stated they are going to introduce. I do, therefore, hope that the promoters will be prepared to consider the course which I know is felt to be strongly desirable by a large number of Members.
Sir GEORGE HAMILTON
I am afraid I cannot agree with the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon). It appears to me that the ordinary procedure of this House, if this Bill gets a Second Reading; and is examined and amended by a Standing Committee, is quite good enough, and that a really small Bill of this nature does not require the setting up of a Select Committee to investigate the principle of it. My hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) criticised those of his own party who are supporting this Bill. I support the Bill purely and simply because I represent a borough where the overwhelming majority of the people are keenly in favour of it. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth need not think that I am a kill-joy. I am quite sure that those hon. Members who were in the House with me some years ago will remember that I have had several disagreements with the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor), because I considered that the legislation which she introduced in those days was of a kill-joy nature. But this Measure is of quite a simple nature. All it asks is that local authorities should be given power by this House, if they are satisfied that it. is bad for their localities to have a greyhound racing course in their locality, to prevent such a course being set up by refusing to license it, or, if after a considerable period an existing course has become a nuisance to the locality, they may close it down by refusing to grant a licence.
The promoter of the Bill, in his most excellent speech, suggested that there was no reason why such licences should not be deferred until autumn of next year. That, I think, would give ample time for the race courses already in existence to put their house in order, and to satisfy the local people that their tracks were desirable and of interest to the locality. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth said he would like to see a referendum taken on this Bill. In the borough that I have the honour to represent the "Ilford Recorder" took a postcard referendum upon it six weeks or two months ago, and 14,000 postcards were returned in favour of the Bill and only one against it. The borough council of Ilford has managed with great ability, and under the advice of its very able clerk, so far to prevent the two companies 578 —both of which are promoted in London, and have nothing whatever to do with local people—from setting up greyhound racing courses in the borough district of Ilford. They managed to prevent that with great skill, and because they have a town-planning scheme. They refused to allow dog kennels to be erected, because they were to be erected in a portion of the town which had been planned for residences. But one of the companies has bought out the allotment holders on the allotments. These allotments are now a barren waste. No greyhound racing track is being erected there, because the company, as I imagine, are rather afraid of the Home Secretary's threat of some months ago and of the fact that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) introduced this Bill so successfully a short time ago. Surely, if the people of the locality want to have power given to their local authority to prevent the setting up of a racing track, it is the duty of the House to give the local authority that power. The ratepayers of Ilford and the representatives of all the churches in Ilford combined in a huge deputation to the local authority to ask them to resist the setting up of such a track. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dunnico), who was to have supported the Bill, and who, I am sorry to say, is unable to be here to-day, lives in Ilford. Some people might say that, because he belongs to the party opposite, he must be a kill-joy; but he is well-known in Ilford as the president of the local football club, and he is known in sporting circles there not as "the reverend gentleman," but as "the General." I am president of a new club which has been started in Epping Forest, where there is a cycle racing track for motor bicycles. This track is very popular, and crowds of people go there when the racing is on. I am proud to say that, as President, I have not been dragged into any controversy over that track in the matter of betting, because, just as football clubs exclude bookmakers, so they are excluded from the cycling track. I do not say that there is no betting on football, but there is no betting on the football ground. Betting on dog-racing tracks takes place quite openly, as it does at horse races, and dog racing takes place every day of 579 the week or on two or three evenings in the week, so that there are many opportunities for betting there.
My real reason for supporting this Bill is that my local people want it, and it is reasonable that they should want it. The travelling facilities between London and Ilford are just about as bad and overcrowded as they can be. Between 5.30 and 7.30 in the evening, you see crowds 'of tired workers, girls and men, who have 'been working all day in the City, getting into a train at Liverpool Street Station to return home. If racing tracks were started at Ilford, is it not reasonable to say that those very trains, on which these hard-working people are returning home, would be crowded by rather undesirable gangs of people, "bookies" and others, going out to the Ilford dog-racing track? Sometimes the carriages, when they leave Liverpool Street Station, have over 20 people in one compartment. How they get in, and how they survive till they reach the other end of their journey, I do not know. We are doing all we can to improve the travelling facilities, and the first thing that is needed to help us is to give authority to the local authority to prevent such increases of traffic in the crowded hours as would take place if there were dog-racing tracks at Ilford. Therefore, not because I am bigoted, not on any highfalutin moral grounds, but on the sound practical ground that the people of my constituency are, by 14,000 to one, opposed to having a greyhound track, I think I am justified in giving my full support to the Second Reading of the Bill.
The supporters of this Bill have been lucky in choosing their spokesmen, because those gentlemen have shown extreme moderation, and have not gone into any exaggeration about the apparent or so-called demerits of greyhound racing. I agree that a great deal of exaggeration has taken place on both sides about greyhound racing. We hear, on the one hand, that hundreds of thousands of men are losing their weekly wages by it; on the other hand, we are told that hundreds of thousands of people are better off since it was started than they had ever been in their lives before. The reason I Oppose the Bill is that if greyhound 580 racing is the evil which supporters of the Bill say it is, then it is an evil which ought to be stopped by the Government of the country, for the country as a whole. I have never been a believer in local option, either in legislating for the drink traffic or in reference to any sport or anything of that sort.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) has supported this Bill to the surprise of a certain number of people. One knows that the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly sincere, and I can understand that, in his opinion, there is a difference between greyhound racing and horse racing. I have had a certain amount of experience of horse racing and I frankly admit that a day's horse racing gives me as much enjoyment as anything else in this world, I am interested, not financially but from the sporting point of view, in greyhound racing, and I do not see how anyone can logically differentiate between going for an afternoon's amusement to a horse racing meeting and going for an evening's amusement to a dog racing meeting. It is simply a question of whether you have the time, the inclination and the money. There is no getting away from the fact that hundreds of thousands of people of all classes, including the working class, go to dog racing because it is more convenient. They can go there in comfort after the day's work is over; it is cheaper, and it enables them to have a couple of hours' amusement and to get back home again by 10 o'clock or so, instead of having to spend a whole day, as in the case of a horse racing meeting, in going a great distance from their homes.
On the subject of betting, I do not think it has been proved that betting, juvenile or otherwise, has been increased by the setting up of greyhound race tracks all over the country. As regards juvenile betting, I agree with the Mover of the Bill. I should like to see a Bill introduced making it illegal for anybody under 21 to bet on horses or dogs, or football coupons, or in any other way. I am in entire sympathy with that idea, and, while I do not say that the National Greyhound Racing Association's prohibition of juvenile betting is entirely disinterested, it is an object which should be in the hearts of Members of all parties. Juvenile betting is an evil, and 581 ought to be suppressed in connection with all sports. As regards betting on dogs as compared with betting on horses, I have made careful inquiries, and it is my candid opinion that betting has not been on the increase since dog racing came in. I have spoken to hundreds of people of all sorts and classes whom I have known to be interested in horse racing for years, and who are now interested in dog racing. My conviction is that a great number of the people who formerly betted on horses, have transferred their betting to dogs. In the matter of street betting, I think that is very much the case.
I was speaking yesterday to a London working man, who told me that since the introduction of dog racing he did all his betting at the White City or Harringay, on one day of the week, instead of spending an afternoon at Sandown Park or some other race-course once a week and betting with street bookmakers on every other day of the week. We all know that every day in every town and village there is betting with street bookmakers, and with "S.P." bookmakers, by wire and by telephone and in the so-called illegal gaming houses. Street-betting has been an evil for many years, but I do not think it has been increased by the introduction of dog racing. As I say, many people have transferred their allegiance from the horses to the dogs. Instead of betting with street bookmakers people are going to Harringay or the White City, or one of the other dog-racing tracks and are not spending any more money than they did before. Many of them have a fixed amount which they spend per week in this way, and they now bet that money on the dog racing tracks, rather than in an illegal manner, as they had been accustomed to do in the past, with the street bookmaker.
I earnestly appeal to hon. Members on this side of the House in particular, to think carefully before they legislate for one form of betting and one form of sport only. If dog racing is an evil—and I do not think it is—then let somebody move that dog racing be made illegal. Such a proposal would be opposed, but it would be logical. To give the local authorities the power of saying whether there shall be a dog-racing track in their district or not while they have 582 no power to say whether they should have a horse-racing course or not, and no power to say whether or not they should have a track for the new sport which is springing up, called dirt-track motor cycle racing, will be illogical. In reference to the last-mentioned form of sport, may I suggest to the hon. Member for Ilford (Sir G. Hamilton) that all the motor track clubs which are starting may not be run as disinterestedly as the one which he mentioned as having been set up in the sylvan surroundings of Epping Forest. These tracks will attract bookmakers in the same way as dog racing did a few years ago. I ask the House not to give a Second Reading to the Bill. If they do come to the conclusion that a Select Committee should be set up, as proposed by the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon), that Committee should consider all the aspects of betting and treat it on a logical and sensible basis. But let us not legislate against one form of betting and one form of sport instead of considering all sportsmen throughout the country as a whole.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
May I remind the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Captain Hope) that there is no question here of stopping greyhound racing? The object of the Bill is to place the control of this new form of sport in the hands of the local authorities. I use the word "sport," though, personally, I am rather doubtful as to whether we should call this form of amusement a sport. It is, however, a form of amusement which has proved exceedingly attractive to tens of thousands of people. It is a novelty in the country; and the first races attracted enormous attention. The facility with which people could attend dog racing and put on their shillings, attracted thousands. More and more courses have sprung up, and the public generally have begun to take notice of what is happening in the country. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) asked why this particular form of amusement should be singled out for legislation. The answer is that it is a novel form of amusement which has, with enormous speed, taken, hold of the fancy of tens of thousands of people, and I do not think that the House of Commons would be doing its duty if we ignored what is happening in the country in this respect. I do not 583 propose to dwell at any length on the merits of the Bill, the case for which has been admirably presented by the Mover. I suggest that those Members who had not an opportunity of hearing him, and the people at large in the country, should read what he said, because think it put the case fairly and succinctly.
The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth argued that it was improper to place the control of greyhound racing tracks in the hands of local authorities and, when challenged as to why he made that suggestion, his only answer was that he would prefer a, referendum. As I understand it, our method of local government is by local authorities elected by the people. It is the duty of the elected authorities to control the areas for which they are elected, and surely the local authority is the proper authority to say whether a greyhound track is or is not wanted in a particular area. What pleases Southend may he displeasing to Eastbourne, but there is nothing in the Bill to prevent Southend having a track, and Eastbourne refusing to have one. It is a democratic Bill which leaves it to the elected representatives of the people to decide the question. I ask the House to remember that the sole issue in this Bill is whether the local authorities are to have this power given to them or not. We all know that the question of betting comes in indirectly, but this is not a Bill which says that you may bet on horses, and not on greyhounds. That has nothing to do with the case; and when the issue is put to the Vote, I hope hon. Members will bear in mind that they are only asked to give the power to local authorities of saying whether or not they will have greyhound tracks in their areas and under what conditions those tracks shall be run.
§ Mr. BARR
I rise to give cordial support to this Measure, mainly on the grounds that have been so well stated by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) that is, on democratic grounds. It is, in itself, a modest Measure when we consider the extent of the evil, which is generally admitted, and which I do not wish to exaggerate in any way. We must bear in mind, however, the very strong measures that have been taken in other 584 parts of the world, and particularly in the Dominions, in regard to this very evil. I have taken occasion to look up what has been done in the various States in Australia in this matter. I do not know that Tasmania has taken any action, but New South Wales has prohibited all night betting in connection with mechanical hares. That prohibition seems to cover practically the whole field in connection with this form of amusement. Queensland has declared, through its Premier—and I am not sure that it has not also carried a Bill to this effect—that no betting of any kind is to be allowed in connection with the "tin hare" or mechanical racing of this kind. In Victoria they have also prohibited any betting of this kind, and two of the States have gone much further and have prohibited the mechanical arrangement altogether. These are Western Australia and South Australia. I should like to quote the words of the legislation that has been passed in South Australia:No person shall cause, or take part in causing any dog to race after a mechanical quarry.I mention those things to emphasise that this is an exceedingly moderate Measure, as it is one founded on true democratic lines. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) twitted us by saying there were only a small number who would seek to prevent, betting altogether or on any national slale. He mentioned my name as one who might look to a more general prohibition of the whole evils of betting. My support of a Measure like this does not prevent my dealing as occasion arises with other forms of admitted evil, or prevent my advocating measures on a more national scale, just as my support of measures on a more national scale does not prevent my striking in any way I can at what I believe to be an evil, in whatever form it comes up. I think some of us who support this Bill might with more justice be accused of licensing dog racing. There is a great deal of force in such an accusation, but I should say that if these powers are conferred they will result in a diminution of the evil. While some local authorities will grant licences, others, in the interests of the purity of their civic life, will refuse them.
It has been asked, "Why do you attack this new form of gambling and not deal with the old-established forms?" One 585 of our arguments in reply to that would be that any new form of gambling or betting will tend to excite still further the evil. But there is another answer. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth brought in the question of other games with which betting is associated. He instanced football. I think I ought to make a clear discrimination here. There are certain forms of amusement, and dog racing is one of them, with which betting is almost essentially connected. I do not think a dog-racing track has been set up in this country without full provision being made for betting. On the other hand, there are great national sports, and football is one of them, which may have some measure of betting associated with them, on the fringe of them, but which are essentially sports and not betting or gambling institutions. The Council of the Football Association have repeatedly declared that it is undesirable that the grounds of their clubs should be used for greyhound racing, and on 8th November last they issued a circular to all clubs under their control urging them to do all in their power to keep football free from betting. I think, therefore, have established the clear distinction which we should observe between those amusements to which gambling may cling, but which are essentially sports, and those which more directly cater to the gambling instinct. Several other Members have asked why we should not stamp out the betting which goes on on horse racing and whippet racing; and in one of the circulars which have been sent to us someone has asked why bridge should not be brought under local authorities, saying thousands of pounds were passing in gambling on it. My answer to that is, "Do the duty that lies nearest to thee; the next will become plainer"; and our duty this afternoon is to give local authorities power to deal with the situation.
It has been said, "What about the Stock Exchange and the gambling which goes on there?" If we attack the Stock Exchange, which many of us would be prepared to do, we should find ourselves up against the same financial interests which confront us this afternoon, and to say that it is no use dealing with this form of betting unless we are prepared to deal with all betting is as much as to say that because, like King Canute, we cannot roll back all the waves of the ocean, therefore we ought not to 586 take any safeguards or build any bulwarks against the flooding of our fields. This is a Measure to give local authorities in their discretion the power to prevent the flooding of their own fields, even if they cannot stop the whole wave of betting that is sweeping over the land. Several arguments have been put forward to-day, and are mentioned in the circulars which have reached us, against any exceptional treatment in regard to this particular amusement. It is urged that dog racing is free from cruelty, and that the coursing of a live hare is bad. I do not stand in defence of the coursing of live hares. The only day I ever played truant in my life was when the boys of our school were bribed by the offer of 6d. a head to go and drive hares out of the bog for coursing. I may say that the 6d. was not forthcoming. Ever since then I have had great sympathy with the hunted hare, and I would quote the words of Robert Burns upon the cruel sportsman:Inhuman man! Curse on thy barbarous heart,And blasted be thy murder aiming eye!May never pity soothe thee with a sigh,Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart.I doubt very much whether the opponents of this Measure to-day will give us their support when we come to the evils of the live hare and the live stag. Another argument used in these circulars is that the dogs really enjoy the coursing. I know something of the joy of the dog when it shares human enjoyment, when it enters into human fun, and if I may venture on a second quotation from my national poet, I think one of his finest poems is that in which he pictures the dog entering into the fun in the home when they are panting round in pleasure. The dog is made to say:My heart has been sae fain to see them,That I for joy has barkit wi' them.That is the joy of a dog in real amusement, and I doubt whether we could transfer that joy to the case of a dog chasing a tin hare which it can never catch. This (nay be a very good picture of the illusions of mankind and of the illusions of those who are frequenting these courses, of the public who are being decoyed, and of the backers who have lost their quarry. If I may venture on my third and last quotation from my national poet:The worldly race may riches chase,And riches still may fly them, O!587 I cannot enter into the greyhound's feelings. It has been said to be the aristocrat of the canine world, and it surely deserves a better fate than to be the object of continual deception. Certainly I do not think it was love for animals which set on foot this movement we are discussing to-day.
A good deal has been said about juvenile betting, and we should neither exaggerate nor diminish what is taking place. Though I do not intend to trouble the House with them, I have in my hand many statements regarding betting by girls and boys of tender age, and of cases in the police courts. There was one case before the Marylebone magistrate of a young fellow of 19 who had embezzled £48 in consequence of betting on dogs. But I do not wish to indulge in exaggerations in regard to that aspect of the case, and I particularly welcome the statement of the hon. and gallant Member who, while he spoke in opposition to this Bill, said he would welcome something which would prohibit juvenile betting in all forms. Further, it has been said that this is a, poor man's sport. I rather fear it is not the entertainment of the poor, but the winning of money from them which in the main has lain behind this movement. It is urged in the circulars which have been sent to us that the sport gets them away from their monotonous surroundings and gives them a rebound from their poor, drab houses. I have no doubt it does, but I think the local authorities, when they are given this power, as I hope they will be, will consider whether that is not an argument for giving people proper houses rather than for seeking to make amends to them in this way. Doubtless, if it be a sport for the poor, it will be the means of making them poorer still; it will be taking the children's bread and casting it to the dogs. I do not desire to humour the poor in their poverty, but to lead them out of it. This same document says that one result of greyhound racing is that the general spirit of the public in the areas where it is carried on is one of much greater contentment, as the people have a new and lively interest about which to talk and think. I do not wish to see the people too contented in their lot I would rather stir them up to remove the causes of their present discontent.
588 Two things more I will say, and I will close. It has been said that we who support this Measure are narrow killjoys. As for being narrow, that does not greatly concern me. When I look at our rivers I see that where they run narrowest they commonly run deepest. As for killing joy, I should hope that, though this Measure is a modest one, it may kill or prevent the sorrows which enter into many homes in the land. For my own part, I am in favour of developing our great national games for pure sport, and our local authorities and all the authorities in the land should seek to develop pure joys and uplifting recreation, and do what they can by their institutions and by their forms of amusement to make virtue easy and vice difficult. I notice in the papers this morning a speech by Lord Dawson of Penn, in which he states that the chief weapons in fighting rheumatism are better housing and pure recreation, and he also says:There should be more playing of games, and less of merely watching them.My attitude on this question is dictated by a deep concern for the highest national interest. I want our people to build on a sound foundation. I have here the statement of a few education committees and other authorities who have protested against this sport being uncontrolled, and they say that it has already caused havoc amongst some of the young people. My own education authority in Glasgow has a system of civic instruction wherein once a week every teacher gives a lesson on manners and morals, and one subject dealt with is gambling. Another education authority in the West Riding of Yorkshire has a more elaborate programme, which includes betting and gambling. I think instruction of that kind is counteracted when you allow these young people, in a frenzy of passion, to attend these canine casinos which sweep them off their feet, and cause them to forget the lessons they have learned. It is because I believe that, among our young people, this greyhound racing is hitting at the highest ideals of education that I give my cordial support to the Measure, which has been so well advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan). I think we are all familiar with Milton's words:So to teach them that they may despise and scorn all their childish and ill-taught 589 qualities, to delight in manly and liberal exercises—infusing into their young breasts such an ingenuous and noble ardour, as would not fail to make many of them renowned and matchless men.In the interests of education and the morals of this country I welcome this Measure.
§ Major CARVER
Ever since this Bill was introduced I have received many communications, and in all cases those communications have been in support of this Measure. I cannot recall having heard from anybody who is against it. I was very much impressed by what was said on this subject by the noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) to the effect that this Bill should go before a Select Committee. I hope this Measure will pass, and it has my hearty support. I trust we shall send this Measure to a Select Committee where witnesses can be heard on both sides, and where all the facts can be put clearly before us. There is one point upon which I am not quite clear. In Clause 4 I notice that the extreme penalty for using any ground or building for dog racing without a licence is only £5, which means that greyhound racing could be carried on provided £5 a day is paid. I think this ought to be altered in Committee, because it is a futile penalty, and one which I feel sure ought to be extended to at least £100.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I wish to take this opportunity of objecting to some of the arguments which have been used in support of this Measure. I am a Socialist, and, therefore, I believe very profoundly in the principles of individualism. I do not think it is the business of elected authorities of any kind to interfere with the personal habits of the inhabitants of the country or of any district. I believe in the moral uplifting of the community as much as the hon. Member for Mother-well (Mr. Barr) but I think that uplifting is more likely to be real if it arises out of a genuine process of evolution, and not through some mere kill-joy interference on the part of certain 590 people who have their own particular notions of morality which are not necessarily those of the whole community. I do not believe in the principle of local option which, in my opinion, is a much more vicious principle than prohibition. That was well illustrated by what was said in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) when he spoke about the people of Dulwich where he lives. The right hon. Gentleman said that the people of Dulwich objected to a dog-racing track being erected at the Crystal Palace. Of course they would, because the people of Dulwich are very comfortable people who have their own motor cars, and are able to go for their own particular kind of sport or gambling wherever they please. Naturally, they would object to vulgar low-class chars-a-bane coming to the Crystal Palace to enjoy the low-down sport of dog racing. That is one of the reasons why I object to the principle of local option, which simply means that you are to have small areas and particular areas with special amenities and advantages of their own objecting to and interfering with those who do not enjoy those rights and amenities, and who have their own idea of what is recreation and what is morality.
I always view with suspicion the ideas of people who want to enforce on others their own peculiar and particular point of view. I agree with the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer), who said that even a majority has no right to impose upon a minority its own views about moral action, individual habits, general politics or anything else that is essentially personal. The whole argument turns upon what is personal and what is not, upon what is a social action, what are the direct effects on society, and what is the best way of handling a problem of this character. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby also voiced the opinion of those people who object to dog-racing tracks because of their effect upon industrial efficiency, and he used the rather peculiar argument, coming from the general secretary of an important trade union, that dog racing would interfere, and does interfere, with the working people liking the idea of overtime. That is an amusing kind of argument to come from one who defends trade union principles.
591 I am not concerned about that. I take the view that, from the standpoint of the economics of the question, this country is rich enough to enable every useful worker in it to waste 10s. a week. It is a question of expenditure. I have no use for those teetotal and anti-gambling economics, which are those of the old-fashioned Victorian Liberal party—the idea that the workers must not have a halfpenny extra to spend, or even to throw away. I say that the workers work hard enough, and are useful enough, to be entitled to spend in any way they like a reasonable amount of their personal income. If they do not get enough to de that, that is a condemnation of the system of society under which we live. That is the point of view that I take with regard to the economics of the question. We have, however, to come down to the practical issue. Abstract theories are all very well, but we have to deal with the question on the actual facts of the case, and from that point of view I support this Bill. After having said what I have said against the type of argument that is always used on these moral issues, I support the Bill on these lines. Clause 3 says:A licence may be granted by the local authority subject to such conditions as it may think desirable";and Clause 5 says:When a licence has been granted by a local authority it may be revoked if there has been a breach of any of the conditions on which the licence was granted.I think that that is a valuable and desirable power to be vested in a local authority. It is not necessarily a question of prohibition, or of interfering with the gambling desires of people if they desire to gamble, however wicked it may be, or however harmful personally it may be to the gambler; it is a question of local control, and I think it is justifiable to vest in the local authorities the control of a matter of this kind, which has big social implications and also big implications as regards the amenities of a district.
Let us consider what happens. If you go to the White City, you are inside an enclosed space; you are packed tight night after night, and at every few yards there is a bookmaker standing facing you, while at almost as frequent intervals 592 there are bookmakers behind shouting out the odds. It is not said that only grown people can go to these sports; it is not said that children or young people must be kept outside. It may be true that there is no more gambling among young people than there was before, but it surely cannot be a desirable thing that this atmosphere of gambling should be forced upon them, if they are going to see sport of that kind, in such an intimate way—as intimate as if they were forced to go into Tattersall's Ring on the Epsom Downs race-course. It is in regard to that that I think control is required, and it is a kind of control that can quite well and reasonably be 'rested in local authorities. It is because of that, and because I think that the packing of people together and forcing the most sordid elements of gambling upon their attention is morally harmful and also socially harmful—which is even more important—that I support this Measure.
At the same time, I hope that when the Measure, if it receives a Second Reading, is considered in Committee, note will be taken of the two Clauses which I have read. There is a danger that this is going to mean granting vested interests to certain groups and types of capitalists. We have quite enough of that with regard to the drink trade, and we do not want to begin a new form of vested interest, so that I hope the Committee will consider that point very seriously. In conclusion, I would say that I do not see that there is altogether an analogy between the drink traffic and this question of a particular type of social recreation—between the forcing of the gambling atmosphere with all its sordid surroundings upon people in an enclosed space, and the right of local authorities to prohibit by means of local option and enforce upon a minority of the population absolute abstention from the consumption of alcoholic liquor. That. is a different issue. You do keep young people out of the public houses; you do control the public houses, and control them pretty effectively if you have the right bench of magistrates. It is because I think that the local authorities ought to have the same control in this case which is exercised over the public house that I support this Bill, giving power to control this sport, which, however interesting or desirable it may 593 be in itself, has possibilities of great social and material danger to the community.
It is unfortunate that, every time my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) addresses the House,. I find myself in complete disagreement with almost every word that he utters, because, when it comes to the written word, there is no one, I am quite certain, who is more charmed by his efforts than myself. Every time, however, that he intervenes in this House, whether with regard to the other House, the Prayer Book, or this Measure, I find myself in violent opposition to him, and I hope that on this occasion, as, indeed, upon the las-7, the House will be against him and with those who are objecting to the Measure under discussion. It may, perhaps, be because my hon. Friend sits for a University constituency, because the last time I spoke on a Friday it was against his colleague the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Withers).
The issue that we are discussing to-day is a very wide one, as has been admitted by all who have spoken in the Debate. The Bill is being supported by people who are suffering from what it is now fashionable to call various complexes, and, as a sort of ribbon running through all the speeches in support of the Measure, we have had the anti-betting complex and the local authority complex. There are those who want to suppress betting as far as possible, and there are those who want to lose no opportunity of giving further powers to local authorities; and the joining up of these two lines of thought has brought great pressure upon my hon. Friend to introduce a Measure of this kind. The House of Commons, however, has to look at the matter far more widely than that, and has at the same time to consider what the Bill does.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), speaking in support of the Measure, as he did with great eloquence, but also with a good many statements which were quite beside the point, hardly discussed the merits of the Measure at all. He said very little on the question whether local authorities should or should not be given these powers; what he was talking about was what he considered to be the evils of greyhound racing at all. He spoke about 594 how we must protect people against themselves, and chars-a-bane outside works, and wages mortgaged ahead of time week after week, and how the workmen of whom he was speaking found nothing coming in because they were pledged up to the hilt, presumably to "bookies.' All that has nothing to do with the Bill. That is a case that may be made against greyhound racing as such. I am not concerned to argue that, because that is not the question before the House. There are a great many people who think greyhound racing is so bad that we should not have it any more, and very likely they are amongst those who are opposing the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby made the most astonishing statement, for a leader of a political party, that local authorities are the only elected representatives of the people. Surely Members of this House are entitled to protest against such a sweeping assertion as that.
If greyhound racing is a bad thing per se, it is for the House to say so, and we should not thrust our responsibilities on to other authorities whose powers are, of course, circumscribed and in a great measure subordinate to those exercised by Parliament. If it is wrong, Parliament should say so. Let us by all means have a Bill, and discuss it on its merits, as to whether greyhound racing should or should not survive. That, however, is not the question at issue. When the promoters went round and collected, as the "Times" says, 288 signatures in favour of the principle of the Measure, what people were asked to do was to try to abolish greyhound racing. At, the time those signatures were collected, it was not made clear to all those who were asked to sign that what was proposed was the licensing of local authorities.
§ Mr. ROBERT HUDSON
It was certainly quite clear in the memorandum that it was not sought to abolish greyhound racing, but to give power to local authorities to control it.
§ Mr. HUDSON
If my hon. Friend had taken the trouble to read the document he was asked to sign, he would have seen that it was quite clearly laid down that it was merely to give control to local authorities.
I am speaking of a conversation. However, we will not bandy words about it, because it does not affect the main point, that if greyhound racing is bad, it is for Parliament to say so and to stop it. The anti-betting complex is another matter altogether. There are people who want to thrust on the local authorities the right to stop greyhound tracks on the ground that a great deal of betting goes on. That, again, is an entirely different issue and, as the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) said, if anyone wants to discuss the question of abolishing betting in so far as it can be abolished by Parliament, let him take the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he brought in the original Betting Duty. He put it quite clearly before the House that a great many Members would be prepared to discuss it as a possible solution of the betting difficulty. That, again, has nothing to do with the greyhound racing suggestion.
The Introducer of the Bill gave the analogy that, because local authorities licensed picture houses, they should be given the power to license greyhound tracks. There is no kind of analogy between the two. The reason why picture houses have to be licensed has nothing to do with the general merits of the films, but is in order to see that a particular film does not contravene the particular standard of decency which public opinion supports. To mix that up with any outdoor sport is perfectly fantastic. If you allow this Bill to go forward, you are opening the road straight out to every other kind of sport which involves vast congregations of people having to come under the same kind of regulations. If you make it incumbent upon local authorities to give their licence to greyhound racing, there is no inherent reason why you should not make it incumbent upon them to give licences for football grounds. I am certain that those who live in the immediate vicinity of a football ground suffer considerable inconvenience at certain regularly repeated intervals during the winter season. There is no inherent reason why they should not also have some say in horse-racing tracks, whippet racing and every other kind of sport. If you pass this Measure and agree to the principle that local authorities should 596 have a say in the sport and recreation of the people, you are making a very disturbing precedent. I cannot see why people should not amuse themselves as they want to. I do not know what the Home Secretary is going to say, but there must be some limit to the extent of repression that we can expect from him. If there is anything wrong we should be the people to discuss it and say so, in a Measure entirely different from this.
The hon. Member who introduced the Bill took the rather unusual course of telling us exactly what Amendments he was going to propose if it got its Second Beading. I gathered there was to be an appeal to an independent tribunal, and that there was not to be anything in the way of retrospective legislation. There, again, we are still up against the same difficulty. If it is wrong in one place, it is just as wrong in another. The hon. Member's chief objection was that it thrust the temptation to bet before the class least able to resist it. Then he spoke of horse racing being the sport of the rich. He cannot have been to very many race meetings. He fell into rather a glaring inaccuracy as to the number of meetings held all over the country, though it is true they are not all held in the same place with such regularity as greyhound racing. But the point of the betting argument is that you can bet away from the course. As to the Sunday dinner depending on the result of a greyhound race on Saturday night, there is no more reason for that than that it should depend on the "Two-thirty" or on a football match on Saturday afternoon. If a man prefers to put it on the greyhound race at night, that is his own interest. The dinner does not depend on the success of a bet, because it is on a dog, instead of on a horse or a football team. The argument is perfectly fantastic. That anyone with the hon. Member's learned qualifications should come and talk like that seems to me almost incredible.
The hon. Member indulged in another false analogy. You cannot put a greyhound or a horse—live animals—into the same category as a little metal thing going round a board by the direction of a man who gives a twist to a certain lever or wheel. To pretend that by this sort of backway we are going to check betting by making it incumbent on local 597 authorities to say whether licences should be granted or not, is really akin to the fatal habit of condemning sins to which we do not personally happen to be prone. It is a habit very prevalent in many circles. When it is said that the local authority know perfectly well whether there is a demand or not in a given locality for a race track to be set up, should say that probably the people who are interested financially or otherwise—mostly financially—in setting up a track in a given area take good care to inform themselves at the time whether there is likely to be a public demand for it. If there is a public demand, I really do not see any particular reason why they should rot he allowed to satisfy that demand. If there is no public demand for a particular track, then such track will very soon go out of business. In fact, I think it is probably true to say we are flogging a dead dog, and that there is not to-day anything like the enthusiasm there was 18 months or two years ago for something which was quite new. Conditions stabilise themselves, and if we let matters alone, I shall not be surprised if, within a very few years, the whole thing fizzles out. People will be surprised that the time of Parliament should have been spent for a whole day in discussing a small and comparatively unimportant form of sport.
I contend, first of all, that it will be a very bad precedent to put into the hands of local authorities anywhere the right of controlling or licensing one particular form of sport without raising the whole question as to how far amenities of localities are or are not disturbed by any other form of sport. Secondly, I contend that as far as the betting question is concerned, and particularly juvenile betting about which we have not heard half as much as we expected, it is a matter which should be considered on its demerits, if I may say so, quite apart from this Bill. That is another idea altogether which Parliament should spend its time in discussing, but we, as Members of this House, are not entitled to throw it back on to the local authorities to determine, in one instance, one way, and in another instance, another way. If greyhound racing be wrong, if it be morally wrong—I do not say if it be a bad sport, because I do not think that question arises—but if it be wrong anywhere, it is wrong everywhere. I cannot get an answer from any 598 of the promoters of the Bill. It is no good saying that local authorities know their local conditions. Of course they do. No one is denying that. The point is, that the thing, if wrong in place A, is wrong in place B. If it be wrong in Dulwich, it is wrong somewhere else. It is for us as a Parliament to consider and debate that issue on this occasion, and I most confidently submit that we should reject this Measure. If hon. Members want to discuss greyhound racing they should do so on its merits, but they should not mix up either the anti-betting complex or the local authorities complex. We have far more responsibility to the country as a whole than any conceivable local authority of whatever importance. While certain things do require to be licensed and limited locally, this particular form of local option is one which, I am quite sure, is very vicious in its conception and one which would certainly work out most unsatisfactorily if it were ever carried into effect.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I rise to support the Bill, and I propose to confine myself to one or two isolated points. The hon. and gallant Member for Gains-, borough (Captain Crookshank) and previous speakers repeatedly referred to the fact that juvenile betting had not been discussed very fully in the course of this Debate. I recall with some interest and as a member of the Betting Commission, that we had evidence brought before us repeatedly of the existence of juvenile betting in connection with horse racing. The hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) will recall that in our report, while we were not able to agree that it existed, perhaps, to the extent that other people assumed that it. did exist, we stated that it was very prevalent in many of our large towns. I am not able to say from knowledge at all how far juvenile betting is to be found in association with this new form of sport, dog racing, but I have not the faintest doubt that if juvenile betting is likely to be found in association with horse racing, which is far removed from the poorer districts, it is clearly more likely to be found in association, as time goes on, with dog racing when we find that this sport is being brought to the very doors of the people.
That, I think, is one of the differences between the incidence of horse racing 599 and the incidence of dog racing. Horse racing generally takes place in some spot far removed from the cities and towns, whereas dog racing comes right into the centre of densely populated areas and, therefore, brings temptation to the very doors of the people. If we assume, as I suppose most of us will assume, that this habit of racing has developed the tendency to bet to a greater or lesser degree, then clearly we must accept as a fundamental proposition that it must bring into our civic life an element which is plainly undesirable. It is not merely a question, as the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough put it, that if racing be wrong in Southend, it is equally wrong elsewhere. That is not the point which is discussed in this Bill. The point discussed in this Bill is, have the community at Bournemouth the right to decide for themselves whether it is desirable to have dog racing within the confines of Bournemouth or the people of Southend to—
I do not know exactly why the hon. Gentleman picks out Bournemouth and Southend. It is probably because the conditions, say, in Bournemouth would be such that the people most concerned would take their amusement elsewhere. They are sufficiently well off to he able to do so, but in the other places, unfortunately, they have to have their amusements in their midst.
§ Mr. JONES
I took these places he-cause they had already been mentioned in the Debate. I will call them Tipperary or Timbuctoo if you like. The whole point is, whether people in any locality have the right to determine the conditions under which their children shall be brought up. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough has an objection, I believe, to the principle of local option. I have not. I ask him this question. Under this Bill either a building or a ground must be licensed by the local authority before it can be used for this purpose. What, in fact, do we find in connection with the law at the present moment? I am quite sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not challenge this. If he is a landlord in any part of the country, he has a right, if 600 he wants to develop his land and allow buildings to be erected upon it, to put into any lease he may grant a reservation making it abundantly clear that there shall not be this, that or the other thing to which he, as a landlord, objects. He can say in that new lease that there shall be no dog-racing grounds, that there shall be no horse-racing grounds and that no buildings shall be erected for this or that purpose. The hon. and gallant Member would not care to interfere with the right of the landlord to do that.
§ Mr. JONES
The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough will not object to it. I certainly should object, because it is too much power to give to any single individual in the community. If the hon. and gallant Member accepts that principle, as I gather he does, are not the people in the locality equally entitled to say under what conditions their children shall live? If one individual, living entirely removed from the area, can say what temptation shall be and what temptation shall not be in that particular area, surely the people as a whole have the right to say it. It has been argued today that before any ground can be fully licensed for dog racing, application has to be made to some authority which has been established to control dog racing. I believe it is called the Dog Racing Association, or some such name. Are they not in that very act of applying to this Dog Racing Association, handing over to a certain number of people the power to determine whether the ground is deemed to be suitable, whether the buildings are deemed to be suitable, or otherwise? If a few people, who do not live in the area, have the right to issue an interdict of that sort, surely the people living in the area have a right of veto. If the Greyhound Racing Association, the members of which live, say, in London, have the right to say that in Manchester such and such buildings or such and such grounds are not good enough for this purpose, should not the people of Manchester have the same right? Why should a few people in London have the right to determine these things, when the people living in and about the area of the site have not? 601 If you grant to a few people the right of veto, surely the people living in the area have the right of veto.
§ Mr. JONES
I am putting the argument that if a few people, say, the Greyhound Racing Association, have the right to veto a particular building' or ground, then, surely, on equal grounds, at least, the people living in the area have the right of veto. I cannot understand the objection to the right of the people in the localities to exercise an option. It is true that the locality may stop dog racing, but it does not follow that the locality will in every case stop dog racing. It seems to me that to hand over the power to the local authority to determine whether there shall be dog racing or any other form of sport is to hand the power over to the only people who can claim to interpret the views of the people in the area, and it is handing over to them a power which they ought to possess. There ought to be some authority for this purpose, and if there is to be an authority, the best authority, surely, is the authority which, in greater or lesser degree, will be subject to the approval or condemnation of the people in any given area. Therefore, apart altogether from the merits or demerits of betting, on the purely limited point of the right of the people to determine the conditions under which they and their children shall live, I wholeheartedly support the Bill.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I rise to criticise the Bill, and not to give it whole-hearted support, as most of my colleagues on this side of the House have done. I criticise the Bill for many reasons. The last speaker supported it, quite rightly, from his point of view; but I cannot accept his point of view. He says: "Here is greyhound racing. It ought to be subject to local control." But he did not give us any reason why it should be subject to local control. I want to know from the promoters of the Bill why greyhound racing should be subject to local control. Is it because it promotes betting, or is it because hon. Members wish it to be licensed as picture houses are licensed? Why is a picture house licensed? It is not licensed because it is a picture house. It is licensed because 602 it is a building where people congregate for a particular reason, and it has to be licensed for the safety of the people. You could build as many picture houses in Glasgow as you liked, and no one could interfere with you provided you made the buildings safe from the public point of view. Is that the kind of licence which hon. Members desire with regard to greyhound racing tracks and buildings? If so, the talk of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) is sheer humbug. If it is licensing which they want, on the same lines as licensing of picture houses, then you can build as many greyhound racing tracks as you like, just as you can build as many picture houses as you like, and no one can interfere.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The local authority cannot interfere, provided you make the picture house safe. All that the greyhound racing people need to do, if the courses and buildings are to be licensed on the same terms as picture houses, is to make the building safe. If that is to be the argument that the greyhound racing people should make their buildings safe, then they can build as many places as they like, and all this talk about betting is cant and hypocrisy. I served in the Glasgow Corporation for a number of years, and I know the conditions there. We have had local veto in Scotland for many years. On this question I take the courageous, honest view which is taken by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr). I would abolish the liquor trade, and I voted for that in the House of Commons, without fear, when only 13 of my colleagues had the pluck to do it, but I think local veto has been a bad thing in Scotland, and I have come to that conclusion regretfully.
This Bill will create one of the worst of evils. In the City of Glasgow there are three greyhound racing tracks. The first duty of Glasgow is to solve its deplorable housing conditions. What will be the effect of this Bill I It will place the onus of licensing on the local authority. Immediately, someone will want to build a greyhound racing track. The local residents, who are usually well-to-do, will object, because the places 603 where the greyhound tracks have to be built are out in the well-to-do areas. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes. The people are often well-to-do in most of these areas.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Let us take it that they are built anywhere. My point is that certain people will object, and immediately there will begin an agitation for and against the licensing of the dog-racing track, and instead of the City of Glasgow devoting its attention to the housing problem and the City Council being elected to solve that problem, you will have the whole of the municipal election turning on the issue, not of whether the people shall have good housing or bad housing, or whether the government of the city is good or bad, but whether there shall be a particular racing track here or there. To me that is one of the fearful weaknesses of the whole thing. What does licensing mean in the liquor trade? Every licence you grant for the sale of liquor gives a vested interest to the holder of the licence. A licence for the sale of liquor is different from a licence for the sale of tobacco. There is no value attached to a licence for the sale of tobacco, but a licence for the sale of liquor becomes of value the moment it is granted. It is admitted by every person who knows the City of Glasgow that the three or four racing tracks we have are more than ample. No one suggests that it is possible to abolish them at present. They will remain, if the Bill is passed, with the added power of a licence behind them. A vested interest would be given to these tracks. You are going to give to those who own these places power to buy and sell their tracks with the knowledge that no other person is to be allowed to build beside them. The ownership of these concerns is now limited by the fear of competition, but by giving the owners a licence you increase the value of their property considerably. Is there a Member of the House who will deny that statement? Instead of the Bill doing any of the hundred things that it is 604 claimed the Bill will do, it is going to increase ten-fold the value of the racing tracks that already exist.
Let us turn to the question of juvenile betting. It is not true that juvenile betting on dog racing is worse or better than horse racing. I know all about my own constituents. I know all about their faults and failings, as well as their good qualities. That is probably the reason why I was elected to this House. Take horse racing. I could prove that horse racing is far more injurious. Compare a dog-racing track with Epsom Downs. A charge is made for admission to the greyhound track, and the number of persons visiting it is limited by that charge. The people living in Epsom Town, children of the most tender years, can walk up to Epsom Downs when racing is in progress, and without any charge can watch all the betting that they choose to watch. If betting is bad there is only one way to stop it. Street' betting is illegal. Greyhound race betting is not illegal. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Derby, a Director of the "Daily Herald," a newspaper that publishes tips for greyhound racing, should come here and make a speech in support of the Bill. It is sheer hypocrisy, and I cannot agree with it at all. Here is the "Daily Herald," a paper that is admired and trusted by hundreds of thousands. There is the "Daily News," which is trusted by another type, very religious people. I believe the "Daily News" is bought by the type of Nonconformists who do not buy the "Daily Herald." It publishes racing tips. What does every newspaper that publishes these tips do? It hounds people on to go to the race-courses, for it is the tip that makes people go. People think that the newspaper has inside information that is not given to them.
This hypocritical Bill is not going to shut a single greyhound-racing track in the country. It is going to allow every racing track now in existence to continue. It will prevent new ones from being built, but it is not going to shut any old tracks. The newspapers will go on publishing their tips and racing results. During the General Strike there were three days' racing, but there were no newspapers. During those three days not a bookmaker in the country took a twenty-fifth part of what he usually took in the streets, because newspapers are necessary to the 605 gambling interests. No one here can defend the waste of gambling in any way. If this had been a Bill intended to face honestly all the issues raised, one would think differently of it, but it does not do that; it allows all the gambling to go on. The ordinary workman is a very decent fellow. In Glasgow the workman has a pool of money, which he may devote to pictures or to drink, or some other amusement. It is true that the Bill is doing more against drink than anything else. The greyhound meetings in Glasgow are from 7.30 to 9, and the public-houses close at 9. The working men can spend their money on drink, horse racing, greyhound racing, picture houses or some other amusement. If you stop them from spending their money on what everyone deplores, they will only spend it in some other way. I object to this Bill because I think it is not facing the issues squarely in any way but is allowing great evils to go on. I hope that this hypocritical Measure will be withdrawn, and that one that has courage and some logic behind it will take its place.
§ Sir GEORGE HUME
I am in the very happy position of not being worried by all the complex considerations that have been put before the House. I listened with great interest to the speech of my hon. Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill. He referred to a leading article in the "Times." I take leave to refer to the leading article which immediately followed that to which the hon. Member drew attention. I allude to an article which dealt with a speech by Sir Robert Kindersley, on the savings of this country and the vital necessity of avoiding all waste. I do not care about all the complexities that have been mentioned in the Debate to-day. They raise a very important point, it is true, but what I feel anxious about is this: Here is presented to us another opportunity for waste. We all realise, I think, the wicked extravagance that can be seen, in the West End of London if you like—extravagance that is carried on by all classes in the country at a time when waste of money is really almost a capital offence. I intend to support this Bill, not that I care at all what the machinery is, for when a car is rushing down hill one does not mind what sort of brake is applied, but I think this 606 may act as some sort of brake, and it is for that reason that I think the Bill might well be passed.
If it be passed, however, I hope the London County Council will not be the authority to have to deal with it so far as London is concerned. The London County Council is often charged with being an extremely grasping authority and wanting to get every power imaginable into its own hands. That may be all right when you have to take administrative action which ought to be taken equally throughout the whole of an inhabited area, but in this case, if there be anything in this Bill at all, it is the local authorities, the inhabitants in the immediate neighbourhood, who ought to have the power. For the London County Council to decide that at Hampstead this thing might be allowed, when Hampstead objects strongly—and the same remark applies to the Crystal Palace or to any other part of London—would not be doing justice to the localities. I think this power ought to be put into the hands of the City Corporation and the Metropolitan Borough Councils, and that is the opinion of the London County Council itself, as expressed by resolution.
§ Colonel APPLIN
I have listened to this Debate with considerable interest, and it seems to me that we none of us know very much about this new sport and that we are rushing in with a private Member's Bill on a Friday to control a sport of which, I think, the majority of the Members know little or nothing. I took the trouble myself, knowing nothing about it, to go down to a greyhound race meeting and see for myself what it was like, and I came away feeling that I had seen some 10,000 men and women of the poorest classes enjoying a recreation in the open air, where there was no drink, and no disorder, and nothing that I could see that was in any way objectionable. There were bookmakers there, and betting was going on, but it seemed to me to be in very small amounts, and that the betting was more for sport than for gambling purposes. In fact, as far as I could see —I did not make a bet myself—there was very little chance of making any money at greyhound racing in any circumstances whatever, and it could only be for the purpose of amusement. The crowds, which were immense number- 607 ing, as I say, some 10,000, were the most orderly that I have ever seen. I walked in this vast crowd back to the tube, and had to wait for four or five trains, but there was no drunkenness and no disorder of any kind.
This Bill is here for one of two purposes. It is either for the purpose of enabling local authorities to decide whether or not a racing centre shall be established in their area, or to enable them to decide whether or not betting shall take place if they license or sanction a racecourse. I think we have rather overlooked the fact that the main reason for this Bill is to enable the local authorities to decide for themselves whether or not there shall be betting at any particular locality, and I say, here and at once, that I do not think this House ought to give the right to any local authority to decide that question, which is not a question for a local authority at all, but is one for the law of the land. If it be legitimate to bet, no local authority should have the power to say, "You may have this particular racecourse, but you shall not bet at it" The sting of this Bill—and, I think, the reason why it has been brought forward—is to be found in Clause 3, which states:A licence may be granted by the local authority subject to such conditions as it may think desirable.That Clause gives a power which this House has no right to give to any local authority. By all means, let us give the right to a local authority to decide whether or not they want a big greyhound racing track in their locality, whether or not the locality is suitable for that purpose, but there it should end. Once having given the right to race greyhounds in their locality, what goes on inside is for the common law of England, and it is for the police to preserve order where necessary. For this reason, I think a Bill of this kind should certainly go before a Select Committee, in order that we may get a reasoned and careful examination into the whole question of thin new sport. Then, and not till then, can the House decide whether or not to give such wide powers as this Bill would confer.
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
The hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Colonel Applin), who lives close to my own con- 608 stituency, started by saying that he had been on one occasion to see dog racing, and he described it in such a way as to lead us to believe that it was almost as quiet and sacred as a religious service. He did not say to which course he had been.
§ Mr. MORRISON
I suggest that it would have been better if he had paid a visit to a race course much nearer his own constituency than the White City, and if he had also taken the opinion of the members of his own local authority and of all the local authorities in North London, he would have found that their opinion was very different from that which he has just expressed.
§ Colonel APPLIN
I do not object to the Bill giving the local authorities the right to decide whether or not there shall be a track. I see no objection to that.
§ Mr. MORRISON
The point I wished to make was that in a case where the site is suitable and the amenities of the district are not being interfered with, one can scarcely conceive of any local authority which, out of pure cussedness, so to speak, would refuse to allow greyhound racing to take place, because it means a considerable difference to the local coffers. During this Debate one or two strong words have been used, and those who have supported the Bill have been called hypocrites, kill-joys, and cranks. That sort of thing sounds and reads all right, but does not get over the fact that every local authority in the United Kingdom, from Land's End to John o'Groats, is supporting this Bill.
§ Mr. MORRISON
I will say then that every local authority in the United Kingdom, from Land's End to John o' Groats, with the exception of Glasgow, is supporting this Bill; and I will make another statement, which I do not think the hon. Member will contradict, and that is that every teachers' association in this country is supporting this Bill, because of the fact that they know what effect dog racing has. It is all right if you put a dog-racing track miles from a tram terminus and from houses, but it is different when you put it right into the heart of a congested 609 district. At one such racecourse near my constitutency there are positions for 800 bookmakers-1 think 862, to be correct. I made it my business to make some inquiries into the amount of earnings of these bookmakers, and I think I am very much under-estimating the figure if I say that these bookmakers on an average take—I will not say earn—£10 a week. If you take 800 bookmakers at £10, that amounts to £8,000 that they take away from one racecourse alone every week during the racing season.
A proposal was made, almost on the borders of the constituency of the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield, to put up a racecourse adjoining a hospital. The board of guardians made strong objections, and the local authority protested, but they had no power. This Bill would give the local authority power in that area to prevent a racecourse being put up alongside a hospital. Hon. Members have said that they have been to see dog racing, and have found no fault with it. I invite them to go to Harringay Park one night next week, but, instead of going in, to stop outside and see what is happening to the neighbourhood. Let them see the streets of respectable working- class houses, where there are fried-eel stalls, and people hawking all kinds of things, and selling betting information and that sort of thing; and then let them walk down some of the streets in the vicinity of the racecourse, and see the number of people who have put up boards offering their houses for sale, because of the pandemonium in the neighbourhood. Surely the people in the district should have some say in the suitability of a site for a course.
The House of Commons has an opportunity to-day of holding the respect of the great masses of people in this country. The overwhelming number of intelligent people are strongly in favour of Parliament doing something to rectify the pre- sent position. There has been a good deal of talk during the Debate about the sport. I have been several times, and my own opinion is that, if it were not for the betting, there would not be 100 people there. I venture to hazard another opinion, that many of the promoters of racecourses are not so much concerned in promoting healthy sports, as in making money quickly. I hope this Bill will get a Second Reading by an 610 over a helming majority, and that the Government will see their way to provide facilities for its passage into law, not only because I think that the local authorities ought to have this power, but because of the effect on children in the neighbourhood of these racecourses, who are being subjected to temptation which they ought not to have. Local authorities are spending money, and teachers are spending time, in trying to educate these children, and then along comes a racecourse; and if this legislation is not passed, I have not the slightest doubt that with the extension of this sort of thing we shall have greyhound racing on all football pitches in the country, and then we shall have them right in the centre of congested districts.
§ Mr. EVERARD
I want to make clear my own position in regard to this Bill. I have, like other Members who have spoken, attended greyhound racing meetings and I think it is one of the poorest forms of sport to which I have ever been. I am convinced that, if it is left alone, it will die out of its own accord. A large number of the working class, however are interested in it, and I am one of those who cannot see why, if a person likes to go to that form of sport, or any other, and have a bet, in a free country, he should not be allowed to do so. I do not myself bet, but a large number of people find amusement in that direction, and I cannot see why we should go out of our way to prevent them from having that amusement. I cannot support this Bill if the authorities who are to control these particular courses are to be the local authorities. I agree it is necessary that there should be some control, otherwise it would be quite possible for somebody to put up a course on a site which would be, obviously, quite wrong, for instance, near a church, or a school, or some religious institution, or hospital. There must, obviously, be some control, but the local authority are not the people who should have it.
The control of the liquor trade is handed over to the licensing authorities of the counties and cities. Surely they are a much more impartial and independent body of people to give an expression of opinion as to whether a site is suitable for a greyhound racing course, than a local authority. Let me give an example. There is a greyhound course 611 being built outside the city of Leicester. That course will cater for the people of Leicester, but it happens to be situated in the county of Leicester, and therefore, under this Bill, the County Council would be the body which would have to decide whether or not the people of Leicester should have this greyhound racing course or not. The licensing authorities are the people to whom should be given the right to decide one way or the other. These sites are nearly always selected on the outskirts of a large town, or within, say, a distance of a mile or two of the borders of a city or town, and the authority to judge should be the joint licensing committee of the city and the county. I am convinced that that would he a far better method of deciding whether there should be a course, than a possible light at some municipal or county council election. I am not in favour of local option in this or in any matter. We have these impartially appointed people to act as magistrates dealing with licensing questions, and the least we could do would be to hand over this particular problem to them to decide.
I cannot support Clause 3. As it stands, it gives power to whoever shall decide whether there shall be a course or not, practically of saving whether there shall be any financial gain or loss in the proceedings and under that Clause they would he able to put such stringent regulations on the conduct of this sport, that there would be no course made at all. Therefore. I find myself in this position, that if the promoters of this Bill do not see their way to state that the licensing authorities shall he the authorities to control these courses, I shall have no other alternative but to vote against the proposition.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
The hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Colonel Applin) and the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Everard) based their opposition to the Bill on the fact that they did not like Clause 3, which empowers local authorities to name the conditions under which licences should be granted. I do not think that these are reasons for opposing a Second Reading. I notice that the hon. and gallant. Member for Enfield heads the list of Members who propose the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading; 612 and it seems quite clear that if the local authorities were ever to grant a licence for greyhound racing tracks and prohibited betting, it would be exactly the same thing as if they refused a licence. On the point as to who the authority should be,, surely that Clause of the Measure could be amended in Committee. I must say that I think the local authority is the proper authority, because it is the only authority than can represent the views of the mass of the people in the locality and, as has been pointed out, if any locality were aggrieved by the decision of the local authority, it could make its views known at the next election. Therefore, I cannot see where we are to get any expression of the views of a neighbourhood as to whether there should be a greyhound racing track there or not if the local authorities are to be ruled out.
The strongest argument which has been stated against- the Bill appears to be the one put forward in the speech by the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) when he asked why greyhound racing is to be singled out from all sport to be the one thing in which you are to allow local authorities to have a say. I think there is a very simple answer. The hon. Member instanced football. Does any hon. Member think that, if a local authority had the right of prohibiting a piece, of ground being allocated for football, they would exercise that right? The difference between the two things is fundamental. In the case of the public who go to see a football match, they get an hour and a half sport watching something or another which interests, amuses and diverts them, and they do not have a minute in which to go in for betting on the result. While entirely agree with what Lord Dawson of Penn wrote in the "Times," that it is regrettable that so large a part of the public spend their time looking at games instead of playing them, yet if people look at football matches, it may fire them with ambition to play the game, while looking at a greyhound running after a tin hare can have no such effect. One is undoubtedly a game and a sport; the other, I think, judging it on the broadest ground, is a debasing sport. It is setting greyhounds to run after tin hares and permitting unlimited facilities for gambling. But that is not what the House has to decide. We have to decide whether 613 a locality has or has not a right to some say whether this particular form of sport is to be introduced in its midst. On that point I am entirely with the Bill, and I shall certainly support it.
We are now debating upstairs in Committee a Bill to establish a partnership between the Government and certain bodies connected with horseracing, and the object of that Bill is to enable the setting up of a totalisator. If the Bill is carried, and those machines for gambling are legalised, I cannel see any logical ground whatever for limiting it to horse-racing and prohibiting its use on racecourses for dogs. I do not think that we can possibly be such an illogical nation as to try to set up a distinction of that kind. If you have a totalisator with all the electrical machinery that is required for it, you have a complete gambling machine set up in every locality. If this Bill which we are now discussing is not passed, we are told that these racecourses are to be controlled by a new body on the lines of the Jockey Club. But they will not control the whole of this sport. In my own constituency, a small race-course, which was recently used for pony racing, has just been adapted for greyhound racing, and I have here an advertisement, to which my attention has been called, of a recent greyhound meeting. It says:Greyhound racing. Wednesday, April 25. Open and Novice Races for Greyhounds, 2.30. Entrance, including tax, 1s.; children, under 14, half price.When these things are set up, and when it is made clear that the presence -of children is welcome and they are admitted at half price, then it is quite right that the localities should have the right to say whether they want these things brought about or not. Therefore, I support the Measure and hope that it will get a Second Reading.
§ Dr. DRUMMOND SHIELS
I want to put one point only in regard to this Bill. I am ready to support it, but, at the saline time, I think there is a good deal of substance in the arguments of those who object to this particular sport being singled out for special attention. When this new form of greyhound racing was first introduced, many of us welcomed it-because we thought it would do away with rabbit-coursing and hare-coursing, 614 where live animals are used in the same farm of so-called sport. While we regret the great amount of gambling that has arisen in connection with this new development, at least we are glad that it is not associated with cruelty to animals, as those other sports—which are not to be touched—undoubtedly are. If it is right that local authorities should have control of sport which involves a danger of excessive gambling, I think it is also right that they should have control of sports where there is not only a danger but a certainty of a good deal of cruelty to animals. Personally, I should like to see the Waterloo Cup and the Eton Beagles conducted under conditions made by local authorities, which might eliminate a good deal, if not the whole, of the cruelty involved. I see no reason why that should not he the ease. Many of these cruel sports also depend on gambling for success.
§ Dr. SHIELS
Then I would finish by saying that I regard this Bill as laying down the principle that local authorities should have the right to make such arrangements that no kind of sport is carried out in their localities which involves something—either excessive gambling or anything else—which is against the public sense of what is right.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I am not interested in betting. I do not think I have ever made a bet, and certainly I have never attended horse racing or greyhound racing. None of these forms of sport appeals to me. I do not know whether it is because I am too wise, or because I am too foolish, but certainly I have never felt inclined to make bets on these forms of competition. Therefore, I come to the consideration of this Bill with an unbiased and perfectly open mind. My only experience of greyhound racing was when a train in which I was travelling stopped at Wembley station, and the immense number of nice young lads who crowded into the carriages struck me as astonishing. When I asked what was going on they told me that they had been at the dog racing and, as far as I could make out, they had been making sixpenny bets. [An HON. MEMBER: "Saxpenny !"] My hon. Friend who interrupts thinks that that is a large sum, but I may explain that these were English boys. One of 615 them said to me that the sport took them out into the open air, and that it was better they should go there than sit in public houses drinking beer. I said I was not so sure about that. They were just of the class of young boys who have no possible means of playing themselves. It is all very well to say to them that they ought to go to play football, but occasionally one finds a reverend gentleman denouncing the temptations of the football field as vehemently as he will denounce dog racing. One often hears condemnation of people who go to look at "the muddied oafs" instead of playing the game themselves; but where are you to find football fields for all the hundreds of thousands of young men who require them The whole of this kind of talk is nonsense. The working class have not the opportunities which they ought to have for engaging in these sports and pastimes. They are crowded and congested into vast centres of population.
Like the hon. Member for Last Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels), I was pleased when dog racing was first introduced, because I thought that at last a sport had been found which would take vast masses of young working men out in the evenings—an innocent sport, that was not coupled with any cruelty at all, and an honest sport, because the great difference between horse racing and dog racing is, I should say, that there is no jockey in the case of the greyhound to sell the race. You can corrupt human beings, but you cannot corrupt clogs. [Interruption.] Some hon. Members, who evidently have great experience of corruption, tell me that there are ways of doping dogs. One way, I am informed, is by giving them sponge cake, and the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) will probably be astonished to learn that another hon. Member here says that it interferes with the capacity of the dogs if you give them water. Still another hon. Member, apparently with even greater knowledge, says that a little whisky increases their pedestrian powers. I think it was in Edinburgh, or Glasgow, some years ago that there was a great vogue for what was called pedestrianism, or racing by men. At last one day arrived when there was a race and none of the celebrated runners engaged in it, would break the tape, because they 616 were all bought to lose the race. Then the crowd broke in, and they really ran fast. You would not have that kind of thing in the case of dog racing, and though there may be the possibilities of doping, that can be prevented by vigilant watching beforehand.
It is now proposed that the local authorities should look after this form of sport, but in most cases the local authorities practically consist of dull old men, when they are not dull old women. They have no sympathy with the sports or views of the young. These dull old bodies who are running shops or their offices and who take up that form of interference with other people's business which is called public life, are the last people on earth to whom we should entrust the control of the sports, games or amusements of the young. Moreover, the local parish plump type of representative is the least reliable and the most corruptible. I do not say that they are susceptible to actual direct corruption but they are susceptible to pressure of a certain kind. You have only to say. "This is a question of morality: this is against betting," or something like that and they will vote blindly, regardless of fair play or justice. I do not know whether that hind of thing has travelled clown to the English counties. I am speaking more of municipal authorities. They are not the people to whom von should entrust a matter of this kind. Do not allow them to have anything to do with the amusements of the working man.
If there is one person down-trodden in this country, it is the British working man in regard to his snorts and amusements. He never gets a dog's chance. The working man's amusements can always be restricted and limited. Both sides are guilty in this respect. Both sides are inclined to the patronising view that the working man is not to be trusted and is not to be allowed to spend his own money. But you cannot keep a wasteful man from wasting his money, and, as regards all this talk about temptation, I would say that temptation does not tempt people who are not ready to fall. The people who are wasteful and who are always backing losers, will find ways of wasting their money, whatever you do. I do not think we know enough about this problem, and that is why I would like to have the Bill sent to a Select Com- 617 mittee. We have had a lot of propaganda from cranks and faddists. Undoubtedly most of the speeches for the Bill have been directed against betting. They know the psychology of local authorities and the type of men who compose them, and who can be subjected to the tyranny of faddists and cranks. The people who want to coerce others to their views never realise that their action may lead to different results from those they anticipate. I never hear the hon. Member for Motherwell speaking about prohibition without it making me thirsty, and when he speaks on the question of peace he makes me want to shed blood.
The mentality of those who want to dictate to mankind, and especially to those who are just coming out of their teens, takes no cognisance of the probable consequences. A wise father and mother know, if they are always interfering with their son and asking him when he has come in a little late, "Where were you last night?" that they are going the quickest road to break up the domestic life of the home. In the same way, if you think you can improve the morals of the people by handing these powers to grandmotherly bodies like local authorities, you may find that it has the very opposite effect, that you may be demoralising the people instead of improving their morals. The Bill gives them power to impose such conditions as they may think desirable. Think of the wealth of corruption that may ensue. All sorts of conditions may be imposed. There is no limit to them. What right have we to hand over an Englishman's personal liberty to any small local elected body? We in this House of Commons are far too fond of interfering with the fundamental liberties of mankind—for instance the right of a man to work in his own shop, and other fundamental liberties of that kind. I believe that even a minority has a right to resist when we are interfering with the liberties of mankind.
What I believe is possible is that we might give to some bodies, such as licensing authorities or the Home Office, some semi-judicial or administrative body of that sort, power to consider representations made by a local authority against one of these dog-racing tracks being put down in a residential district. At least, that is arguable. There might be a general regulation that these 618 courses ought to be some distance outside the town. At any rate, that would add to the traffic receipts of the railways for whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) speaks, and I think that is what is at the back of his mind in suggesting that they should go further afield. Why should we hand over to local authorities the power to shut up these amusements of young people? Dog racing is one of the cheapest amusements in the world. It is all very well to say that the race lasts only a few seconds, but, apart from the racing, there is the joy of being in the crowd. I am quite against any idea of giving to local authorities composed of elderly men the power to step in and prevent these amusements which are so much enjoyed by young people.
§ Mr. J. JONES
We have just listened to an hon. and learned Member who is a philosophic anarchist, always opposed to everything in the way of regulations—except as regards the salaries of legal gentlemen.
§ Mr. JONES
I represent a constituency where we are obsessed with the housing problem. Our trouble has been to find houses for the people. Evidently the hon. Member wants houses for dogs and not for human beings. Already we in London have local control in certain circumstances. We have the right to license cinemas and music halls to be open on Sundays. I will undertake to say that if that were proposed in the hon. and learned Member's constituency he would be against it, because he is Scottish Presbyterian. He believes in compounding sins he is inclined to, by damning those he has no mind to. As a matter of experience, I have been to some of these dog-racing meetings. I can think of nothing on the face of the earth more miserable than a dog-racing meeting. I have been to horse-racing meetings too, although I am not a gambler. I generally have a shilling on the Derby, in a sweepstake—that is the extent of my gambling propensities—not because I like it, but because I join in with ray comrades who are members of the same club.
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken of the morals of the young has given us some indication of the 619 morals of the old—he is getting near that stage himself. I have heard him advocating the consumption of Scotch whiskey. British beer was not in it, and Guinness's stout was out. He has defended every enormity. I have listened to some of my comrades here—and I do not agree with them—advocating prohibition. I do not believe in prohibiting anything, except Scotish legal gentlemen who talk at large. I should like all local authorities to have the right to say what sort of sport should be permitted in their own distrist. That is what we claim. In West Ham we have an enormous difficulty in finding places for the people to live near the docks. We cannot afford to pay the high prices asked for the land near the docks, but these greyhound racing companies are able to offer big sums of money, and they outbid us in buying the land which we want so badly in order to build houses. Does the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) agree with that? Does he understand the East End or the conditions under which the people have to live in that district? Although I am not a kill-joy or a spoil-sport., I would like to ask the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire, does he believe that horses or dogs ought to be allowed to take the place of human beings?
§ Mr. JONES
If that is the view of the hon. and learned Member then let him help us to lay down the right that the local authorities should decide this matter. As for this greyhound racing, I have seen it, and it is not a sport at all. I have been to football matches and cricket matches, and I have spent a pleasant time at both, but when I have seen a greyhound race I have concluded that it was not a sport at all but a gambling saturnalia. The hon. and learned Member would not talk as he has been doing if he understood the subject; he has not been properly briefed. I am not in favour of local option as a rule, but its an extraordinary argument to advance against this Bill that the local authorities are mostly old women and.old men, when, as a matter of fact, most of them are Tories. No less than 75 per cent. of our local authorities are members of the Conservative party. Now we find one of their leading legal lights coming forward 620 to tell us that they do not know what they are doing, and they cannot be trusted with the administration of public affairs. If they are not fit to control dog racing then they are not fit to control housing.
For these reasons, I think I am entitled to suggest that the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire is not keeping to his brief, but he is trying to throw cold water upon a democratic principle. At the present time we have the right to decide what kind of entertainment the people shall have. We have the right in regard to theatres, music halls and picture palaces to say whether they shall open on Sunday night or not, and I would like to ask, is there anything wrong in saying that if somebody desires to introduce something which is an inconvenience in our district we ought not to have the right to prevent him' After all, as far as the West Ham Council are concerned, we are a democratic body, in fact we have been so democratic that the Government have sacked half of us with the applause of hon. Members on both sides of the House. I know it is only due to ignorance: you do not understand us; you know nothing whatever about it. We know ourselves, and we are going to carry on to the end of the chapter. In regard, however, to this principle of the right to decide what shall be and what shall not be, we stand for the right of the publicly elected authorities to decide what the people in their constituencies can or cannot have.
The hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire suggested justices of the peace. What a magnificent collection of back numbers! If they had to go up for public election, they would not stand a clog in hell's chance. Your nominated committees are a failure: they are an insult to the intelligence of the people; we depend on the locally elected authorities. At one end of London you may have elected to the public authority men and women who are against entertainments of this character, while, at our end of London, we may have people who are in favour of this kind of entertainment, whether it be clog racing, horse racing, or any other kind of racing; but we say that, when we have a problem such as housing, or communications, or the making of new roads and the development of our district, we are not going to allow horses or dogs to interfere with the life of the 621 people and with the opportunities for giving them the best chance of living the best life that they can. On these grounds I support the Bill, although I might be opposed to certain other of its implications. As far as the principle is concerned, we are all united, and I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire will reconsider his position and come into the Lobby with us in support of the democratic principle, because he is always claiming to be a democrat—always with a bottle of whisky in his pocket.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
I apologise to some of my colleagues and Friends for not having been able to hear all the speeches this afternoon, as I had to be elsewhere. I have taken a great deal of pains, as, in fact, it was my duty to do, to find out as far as I could, for the information of His Majesty's Government and for the information of the House, the exact position of dog racing, so far as police authorities and others are in a position to explain the effects of this new form of sport. From my own point of view, I should like to say at once that, as I think the House will realise, I am not in any sense opposed to sport, and I do not think that we are debating this matter this afternoon on the question of sport—we are simply trying to find out whether a new form of sport, or entertainment, or amusement, or whatever it may be called, is desirable in the interests of the nation as a whole, whether it works for good or for evil, and whether it is desirable or otherwise that the great body of local authorities should be given by Parliament the right to say whether this form of entertainment shall be carried on within their boundaries or not.
Of course, if Parliament took a very strong view on one side or the other—if Parliament thought that dog racing was a most harmful and altogether undesirable form of sport which ought to he prohibited, it would not be necessary to pass this Bill. The Bill would take a much simpler form, and Parliament would have the right, if it thought fit, to prohibit the sport altogether. On the other hand, if Parliament took the view that it is a very desirable form of sport, that it is a new thing which in itself is beneficial to the community as a whole, then 622 I think it would be the duty of Parliament not to pass this Bill, but to say that it should not be in the power of any local authority to prohibit something which Parliament considered to be really beneficial from the point of view of the improvement, education and uplift of the people as a whole.
I have been in the unfortunate position of having, long before to-day, to hear both sides of this question. I have had more resolutions and more correspondence on this question than on any other since I have been Home Secretary. How many letters I have received I cannot say, but I have received over 1,600 resolutions from different bodies, local authorities, religious bodies of various kinds and descriptions, and municipal bodies as well, in favour of some form of control, and only a very few against. Then I have received two important deputations—as Home Secretary I am bound to pay great attention to deputations—one from Members of the House of all shades of political opinion, who asked me to deal with the matter and gave me their decided opinion that it was harmful to the community as a whole. I received a second deputation, which is the biggest I have ever received of a representative character. It filled a large Committee Room upstairs. There were two Lord Mayors, several chairmen of local authorities, Church of England Bishops and heads of some of the great Nonconformist bodies as well—an all-round representative deputation. They made the same strong comments against clog racing as were made by the original deputation from the House of Commons. Then I received a third deputation from the promoters of dog racing introduced by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon), and Lord Askwith was the principal speaker. He and his colleagues put before me very fairly, temperately and frankly the other side of the question. They quite definitely assured me that the other deputations were entirely wrong, the thing was not harmful, it really was a thoroughly beneficial sport which was open to the working man, particularly as be could go to it after hours, and that there was nothing like the real objection to the sport that had been put before me by the other deputation.
623 I need not repeat what was said to me, because the House has had in this debate the statements of both sides put very clearly before it. The real difficulty is to find the truth between the two shades of opinion. If either of them had come to me and said, "We think it is somewhat doubtful; we think it may lead to mischief in the body politic," I should have been much more inclined to believe them than I was inclined to believe either of the deputations, which were equally violent on opposite sides of the question. So I tried to get from the police information as to what was really happening. I think the truth lies between the two extremes. I do not think for a moment that the evils of dog racing are as great in themselves as was suggested by the two deputations; nor, on the other hand, am I prepared to agree that it is in itself so useful that it is doing good rather than harm. I asked the police in practically all the large centres where there is dog racing. From their replies I am bound to draw the conclusion, first of all, that there is very much betting. That is one point that appears quite clearly, that dog racing is, and I am inclined to say must be, associated with a very large amount of hefting indeed. I am only trying to put the facts before the House in the first instance. That is the first fact that emerges from the opinion of all the police forces. Those who have been to dog-racing courses will probably admit that there is a very large number of bookmakers, and of course they do not go there unless there is betting to be done.
On the other hand, it is clear from the policy view that very few young people between 14 and 16 take any part in the betting. With regard to that matter, both those who are opposed to dog racing, those who have a very strong view against juvenile betting in connection with it, and Lord Askwith and the deputation who came to me on behalf of dog racing are entirely agreed on that matter, and Lord Askwith, on behalf of the promoters of dog racing and the Greyhound Racing Association, told me quite definitely that they would not only be prepared to accept but would welcome a Clause in any Bill prohibiting betting, at dog racing in the case of young people. That, of course, would get rid of one of the objections made to dog racing as a whole. I 624 gather from the police that there is no evidence of any increase in pawning at the pawnshops round about dog-racing centres. There is no evidence that there has been any disorder, and the House will realise that I must tell them the full truth in regard to this matter. Dog-racing crowds have been extremely orderly. There has practically been no disorder at any dog-racing centres, nor has there been outside, before the racing has begun, or when crowds have been going away, any disorder of any kind which caused the police to take any notice of it.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I have not made inquiries. I have attended many large football matches, and my own personal opinion is, that when the British public go to see a great sport of that kind, whether a football match or anything else, they are extraordinarily orderly. Whatever our views on any form of sport may be, we are, fortunately for the Home Secretary, a very law-abiding nation. Further, the opinion of the police is, that taken as a whole dog racing has drawn people away from the public houses and the cinemas rather than cause them to go to those places. I put those facts briefly in order to assist in trying to get at the truth on these matters, and they appear to be, as far as I can gather, the facts from the police point of view. The Government, in considering the question, have to assume, as, I think, I am bound to ask the House to assume, that there is no disorder, that there is no drunkenness connected with dog racing. There is, in fact, only one doubtful instance—the deputation were not able to answer definitely—of a dog-racing track with a licence attached to it. There is no licence attached to arty of the other tracks.
When I come to deal with the Bill itself, I must realise that here is a difficulty, a new form of sport, a new form of entertainment—I do not mind what you call it. As long as it is properly conducted, and as long as it is sport for sport's sake, I see no reason whatever to advise His Majesty's Government that that sport should not be allowed to continue. On the other hand, if the sport is, as has been suggested in the course of this Debate, and 625 as has been suggested before, a mere cloak for gambling, then it is the duty of Parliament, the duty of the Government to consider this new form of sport leading to gambling. I do not think that the question of horse racing really comes into the matter at all. Horse racing is an English institution. It has been going on for generations.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Perhaps the hon. Member will listen to my argument. Horse racing, with all its benefits, and with all its evils, has been in existence for a great number of years. We have taken over from our ancestors an existing form of sport. We are not called upon to deal with horse racing as something new and as something which the nation has experienced for the first time. I do not think that in dealing with this new form of sport we should consider, at the same time, the effect upon national morals of horse racing or anything like that. That is a very different subject. To-day we are faced with an entirely new thing. Of course, in a few years it may grow to enormous dimensions. We are told that there are now about 40 to 45 tracks in being or in contemplation, and that 170 companies have been formed. If dog racing is all that its advocates say it is, a great form of open-air sport, and a real benefit to the community as a whole, then logically there must he a great incentive to that sport.
What the House and the Government have to consider is whether we are responsible for considering this new form of sport or whether we should simply wash our hands of it, and say, "Some people say that it leads to gambling. Some people say that it is merely an animated roulette board. On the other hand, some people say that it diminishes drunkenness. Let us wash our hands of it altogether and leave the thing to stand or fall. It may in the course of years become enormous in its effects, or it may gradually die out, through people giving it up." I am not quite sure that that is the right attitude to adopt. I am not quite sure that we as a community, as a House, as a Government can wash our hands of all responsibility for guiding and controlling a new form of sport or entertainment of 626 this kind. If we believed that it was absolutely wrong, that it was tending to destroy the well-being of the people, it would be our bounden duty to put our foot down at once and to say, "This thing must stop," if it were a real crime. I am not prepared to say that for one moment, and I do not think we could say that. I think the House will agree with me on that point.
On the other hand, we may find that for this new form of entertainment we are, to some extent, responsible, and that we should guide and control it. His Majesty's Government took the view that there should be a free Debate on this matter. It is not a question of party politics. It is not a case of the Government accepting one set of views or the other or accepting the police views on this matter. It is not a matter on which the Government can have any better opinion than Members of the House of Commons themselves. Therefore, it was the desire of the Government that a day should be set apart for a free and open Debate. We have had that Debate. We have had various opinions expressed on both sides, and in a few minutes we shall have to come to a conclusion.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain whether this kind of sport interferes with the duties of the police in the Metropolitan police area?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
When the hon. Gentleman asks whether it interferes with the duties of the police, I would reply that the duties of the police are to control crowds and, of course, a certain.mount more work is thrown upon the police by the crowds which assemble at greyhound racing meetings, just as extra work is thrown upon them by the crowds at football matches or at any other sports meetings.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I agree. Any new form of entertainment of this kind which causes large crowds to assemble three or four times a week necessarily throws more work upon the police, but it is part and parcel of the duties of the police to do their duty wherever they may be called upon by the exigencies of any new proposals or new ideas which come before the people of this country. The Government have, I think rightly, decided to leave this matter 627 to a free vote of the House. I do not know whether the House would care for my own particular view. I have given great care to a consideration of the subject and have made a great effort to see where the trouble lies. The House will have realised that, in my view, greyhound racing is not so entirely detrimental that it should be stopped altogether: but, after very full consideration, after receiving this mass of resolutions from the local authorities of the country and after having seen and discussed the matter with the representatives of some of the largest local authorities in the country, I am forced to the conclusion, speaking for myself only, as an individual Member of the House, that it is my duty to go into the Lobby in support of the Bill, subject to one or two Amendments which I shall mention later, and to say that I can see no reason why in a matter of this kind which affects enormously the individual rights and the individual happiness of the people living in the different localities, those people through their representatives should not have the right to say whether they want these dog-racing tracks in their midst or not.
Some of my hon. Friends may say, "That is interference with the liberty of the subject." I hardly think that is so. In these days every Act of Parliament is an interference with the liberty of someone; an Act of Parliament that is carried by a majority obviously interferes with and places obligations upon people who vote against it. But in a matter of this kind we find some of the greatest of the local authorities asking by an enormous majority that they should have the right to say whether greyhound tracks should be allowed in their midst or not. Who is likely to know so well as, say, the City Council of Manchester or the City Council of Cardiff? I think that I remember the Lord Mayor of Cardiff coming up to London with one of the deputations. Or there is the London County Council, and there are the great local authorities in London. Who is likely to know whether it is desirable or not to have a racing track in Manchester or Birmingham or West Ham so well as the town council representing the people in that district?
§ Mr. EVERARD
Is it not a fact that in a great many of these cases the 628 courses are just outside the town council jurisdiction, and that, therefore, it will be not the town or city council but the county council that will be concerned?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I agree that that is a difficulty, and if that be the case in many instances we must take the responsibility of deciding here. Local government has been granted throughout Great Britain and the powers of the local authorities are from time to time extended. Speaking purely personally I see no reason why the local authorities should not have the additional right given to them to decide this question. Let it be remembered that many local authorities have the power now. Under the Town Planning Acts, if those Acts had been put into operation, the local authority can decide whether a greyhound track shall or shall not be permitted in its area. It is only because the great majority of local authorities have not yet put the Town Planning Acts into operation that there is any necessity to give these additional powers to local authorities. Under the Town Planning Acts local authorities have the right so to plan and plot out the surroundings of their towns as to prohibit any particular form of development they dislike, including, of course, greyhound tracks. I see no reason why such a power should not be given to them directly and definitely under this Bill. It will be necessary, I think, if the Bill passes its Second Reading, to make certain Amendments in it. My hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading quite fairly said that he would be prepared to extend the time for obtaining a licence for at least another year or 18 months to those organisations that already had tracks. That is only fair. After all, a great deal of money has been spent, without Parliament having dealt with the matter, and it would be quite unfair to say that a local authority could destroy at one blow, in the course of a week, all the tracks already put up.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The point is that Parliament could have dealt with this matter a year ago if it had liked, but it let the thing grow; it allowed new tracks to be established. I entirely agree that the Mover of the Second Reading probably helped to get his Bill through 629 by the conciliatory speech that he made this morning. There is only one point that I hope he will not press. I see it is suggested by him and by more than one other speaker that there should be an appeal from the local authority to the Home Secretary. God forbid! I understand that efforts are being made by some hon. Friends of mine in the Committee upstairs on the Totalisator Bill to land the unfortunate Home Secretary with the responsibility for the management and running of the "tote." The Home Secretary has quite enough to do, and I do not want more autocratic powers put into his hands than he has at present. I think my hon. Friend might be prepared to consider some other form of appeal, but I hope he will not press an appeal to the Home Secretary.
I think it might be quite possible to convert this Bill into one which would be a reasonable Bill, which would do away, at the desire of the local authorities, with what is wrong in greyhound racing, and give them power, where they found that greyhound racing was simply and solely an organisation for the extension of gambling, to do away with it. On the other hand, where the tracks were well conducted, where conditions were inserted in the licence and properly carried out; then the local authority would have the power and the right to grant these licences and, of course, to see that the conditions were carried out. I have tried to advise the House on this non-political matter as well as I could. I am not going to plead one way or the other in regard to the passing of the Bill, but my own personal view is that, on the whole, taking the balance, I propose to follow my hon Friend into the Lobby in support of the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I cannot help thinking the House will agree with me that it has been treated in rather a curious way this afternoon. First of all, the procedure of wiping away all private Members' business and substituting a Bill which has been competed for by resolution to the Prime Minister, is a very extraordinary thing to do.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
This is not a private Members' day at all. They have certain days left, but this is not one of them. It belongs to the Government, 630 and if this Bill had not been put down, we could have put clown any Government business that we liked.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I respectfully apologise. I am sorry to have blamed the Government for something that they have not done. But here is a question which animates the feelings of all of us, and upon which we wanted knowledge from the Government more than from anywhere else. We have had resolutions up and down the country, as we do on almost every conceivable subject, but we wanted sure guidance from the machine that looks after our morals—that is, the Home Office—on this question, and the Home Secretary comes down to this House and gives us that information, leaving us five minutes in which to debate the subject after we have had the information. We have all been in the dark, one side saying there is distress up and down the country because of dog racing, and other people saying that juveniles are betting up and down the country and going slowly to hell. We have had no information about these things, and we are left five minutes in which to debate them with knowledge.
The memorial which went to the Prime Minister asking for facilities was founded on two grounds alone. One was juvenile betting, and the other was the question of distress. We heard a comic speech from the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) about lorries waiting at works to take people to dog racing, but the Home Secretary, having made his speech in the autumn, has done his best, surely, to bring the worst possible case against dog racing that he possibly could, because he prejudiced his own position. But he has not been able to say anything from that Box to-day. The police reports from up and down the country have really given dog racing, as dog racing, a very good character indeed; and, consequently, I think that in debating this Bill to-day we should have been treated in a better way than to be left only five minutes in which to debate it at the end.
I have promised an hon. Friend behind me half the time that is left in which to say a word against the Bill, and I must keep to that agreement, but even so I have another minute. I cannot congratulate the Mover of this Bill. His very moderation weakened his case, be- 631 cause he did not deal with the difficult question of betting. All he made a case for was that dog racing caused a congestion of traffic, with which the local authorities could deal. It is betting which is the whole point, and I cannot help regretting that it was to that very distinguished. Member that this Bill was entrusted, because, after all, he is in our opinion a very great man, but he has shown himself to-day, what is a most awful thing to be in this House, and that is a crank. Once you are a crank, you are on the first of the 39 steps that surely lead to political extinction.
§ Mr. ROBERT HUDSON
I would like to remind the House that when we vote on this Bill we are not voting to prohibit betting or voting on the merits or demerits of greyhound racing. We are voting on the narrow issue whether or not local authorities are to be allowed to say that a track shall or shall not be placed within their area. That is the sole question which we have to decide.
§ If greyhound racing is such a good thing as the promoters say it is, they will have no difficulty in persuading local authorities to give them a licence. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) said that he objected to the majority coercing the minority in matters of morals. This Bill will not allow any majority in any local authority to coerce the minority, but will prevent a minority coercing the majority in the matter of a nuisance or possible nuisance. Therefore, I would beg hon. Members to remember that when they go into the Lobby to-day they are not voting on the question of the prohibition of betting, or on an anti-greyhound racing Bill, but on the question whether local authorities are allowed to have any say whether a track is to be put down in their area or not.
§ Question put, "That the word now stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 222; Noes, 18.633
|Division No. 119.]||AYES.||[3.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Govs, W. G.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Agg-Gardner, Ht. Hon. Sir James T.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hilton, Cecil|
|Apsley, Lord||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hopkinson, sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Day, Harry||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie|
|Baker, Walter||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Balniel, Lord||Dennlson, R.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield).|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Drcwe, C.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland,Whiteh'n)|
|Barr, J.||Duncan, C.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth. Bedwellty)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen't)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Berry, Sir George||Ellis, R. G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Blundell. F. N.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Fermoy, Lord||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Forrest, W||Kennedy, T.|
|Braitnwaite, Major A. M.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lane Fox, Col Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Briant, Frank||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Lawson, John James|
|Broad, F. A.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Llndley. F. W.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Glbbins, Joseph||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bromley, J.||Gillett, George M.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Goff, Sir Park||Looker, Herbert William|
|Buchan, John||Gosling, Harry||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln.,Cent.)||Lowth, T.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lumley. L. R.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Grenfell, D. R, (Glamorgan)||Lynn, Sir R. I.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Macdonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||McLean, Major A.|
|Connolly, M.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Cooper, A. Dud||Hammersley, S. S.||Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Couper, J. B.||Hardle, George D||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|March, S,||Ritson, J.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Merrlman, Sir F. Boyd||Rose, Frank H.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Montague, Frederick||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Saklatvaia, Shapurji||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts. Salisbury)||Salmon, Major I.||Tinker, John Joeeph|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Tomlinson, R. p.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. O. L. (Exeter)||Sandon, Lord||Vlant, S. P|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Savory, S. S.||Wailhead, Richard C.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Scrymgeour, E.||Ward. Lt.-Col.A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Parkinson. John Allen (Wigan)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewie||Wells. S. R.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Westwood, J.|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Shinwell, E.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrympte-|
|Plicher, G.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Skelton, A. N.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Potts, John S.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Kelghley)||Wilson. C. H. (Sheffield. Attercliffe)|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, Rennlo (Penlstone)||Wlndsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Purcell, A. A.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Radford, E. A.||Snell, Harry||Wright, W.|
|Reld. D. D. (County Down)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Remnant, Sir James||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Richardson, Sir P. w. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Stephen, Campbell||Sir George Hamilton and Mr. Compton.|
|Buchanan, G.||Macquisten, F. A.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Llndsey,Gainsbro)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Remer, J. R.||Wlnterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Ropner, Major L.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Worrender, Sir Victor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah||Sir Frank Meyer and Captain Hope.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee."—[Viscount Sandon.]634
§ The House divided: Ayes, 36; Noes, 185.635
|Division No. 120.]||AYES.||[4.8 p.m.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Hammersley, S. S.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Apsley, Lord||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Stuart, Crlchton-, Lord C.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Sugden, Sir Wllfrid|
|Blundell, F. N.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Ward, Lt.-Col.A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Buchanan, G.||Lumley, L. R.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Macquisten, F. A.||Wells, S. R|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Llndsey,Galnsbro)||Meyer. Sir Frank||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Murchlson, Sir Kenneth||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Nelson, Sir Frank||Windsor-clive Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Remer, J. R.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Viscount Sandon and Major Carver.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Brass, Captain W.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Attlee. Clement Richard||Brlant, Frank||Connolly, M.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bllston)||Brldgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Baker, Walter||Broad, F. A.||Couper, J. B.|
|Balniel. Lord||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Barr, J.||Bromley, J.||Cove, W. G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Buchan, John||Cowan. Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Berry, Sir George||Builock, Captain M.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Day, Harry||Kelly, W. T.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Dennison, R.||Kennedy, T.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Drewe, C.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Duncan, C.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lawrence, Susan||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bcdwelity)||Lawson, John James||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Lindley, F. w.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Savery, S. S.|
|Erskine. Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'thi||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Looker, Herbert William||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lowth, T.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Forrest, W.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Shinwell, E.|
|Foxcrolt, Captain C. T.||Macdonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||MacLaren, Andrew||Skelton, A. N.|
|George, Bt. Hon. David Lloyd||McLean, Major A.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotharhlthe)|
|Gibblns, Joseph||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Gillett, George M.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Gosling, Harry||Malone, Major P. B.||Snell, Harry|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||March, S.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Mcxton, James||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen. S.)|
|Grentell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Montague, Frederick||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Hardic, George D.||Naylor, T. E.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Oliver, George Harold||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan)||Westwood, J.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Penny. Frederick George||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Oalrympla-|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Pilcher, G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercllfle'|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Pllditch, Sir Philip||Windsor, Walter|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Potts, John S.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield).||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Wright, W.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd,Whiteh'n)||Purcell, A. A.||Ycrburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Radford, E. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth. Cen'l)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Rentoul, G. S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Sir George Hamilton and Mr.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Compton.|
|Jones. Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ritson, J.|
Bill committed to a Standing committee.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.636
§ Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Sixteen minutes after Four o'clock until Monday next, 14th May.