HC Deb 19 December 1932 vol 273 cc742-4
44. Captain ARTHUR EVANS

asked the Home Secretary if, in view of the result of the appeal to the High Court on a case stated by the Leeds stipendiary magistrate on the question of the legality of totalisators on greyhound race tracks, he will introduce legislation to alter the constitution of the Racecourse Betting Control Board, whereby interests which are at present operating totalisators outside the control of the Racecourse Betting Control Board will be represented in the new body, whose function and jurisdiction would extend to totalisators wherever used?


With Mr. Speaker's approval, and if my hon. and gallant Friend permits, I propose to make a statement on this subject at the end of Questions.

Commander LOCKER-LAMPSON (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister what steps the Government intends to take respecting the recent legal decisions in regard to Tote Clubs, and whether in the interval of any legislation he will not allow Totalisator Organisations erected upon licensed dog-racing tracks to be penalised, whilst similar organisations upon horse-racing tracks are permitted?


I will now also answer Question No. 44.

The Government are aware of the decision of the High Court of Justice in the case of Shettleworth v. The Leeds Greyhound Association Limited in which it has been held that the operators of a tote who received money as the consideration for a promise to pay money on the result of a race committed an offence against the Betting Act, 1853. Steps will be taken to enforce the law against all persons responsible for the operation of totalisators in such a way as to contravene the law as declared in this decision. The Government are closely considering the situation in the light of this decision, and before reaching any final conclusion on the question whether legislation is necessary or desirable, would desire to await the considered findings on this subject of the Royal Com- mission on Lotteries. These, I understand, are about to be submitted.

Captain EVANS

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, as a result of fully mechanised totalisators being installed on dog tracks throughout the country, a vast industry has been built up, and that if they are prohibited at this stage a large number of highly-skilled and highly-paid men will be thrown out of employment immediately, and, not only that, that a new industry of worldwide prospects will be strangled at its birth.


No doubt those matters will be taken into consideration.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Home Office have already decided to take immediate action with regard to greyhound racing tracts and tote clubs?


What I have said is that it would be the duty of the Home Office to carry out the law as now declared.


Is it the intention of the Home Office to take action immediately, or will action be delayed for some time?


The Executive of the Government is not at liberty to dispense with or to postpone the operation of the law.


Will the right hon. Gentleman do nothing to convey the idea that the Government are penalising the tracks and totalisators of the poor men while not interfering with horse-racing tracks which rich men frequent?


Is my right hon. Friend aware that under one Statute the running of a totalisator is legal in Scotland and illegal in England, and will he ask his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General whether the law is an ass in Scotland or in England?

Captain EVANS

May I ask the Home Secretary whether I am correct in understanding that, from his pronouncement in the House of Commons to-day, it will be illegal for any greyhound track throughout ale country or totalisator club to continue its operation of the totalisator?


Yes, Sir; as I am advised, I understand that that is so.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES

Will the right hon. Gentleman at the same time look after the interests of the bookmakers who are also poor but honest?


Are not the greyhound totalisators on an entirely different footing from tote clubs and will the right hon. Gentleman take any steps—


Mr. Lansbury.