§ (2) This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland.—[Mr. Hacking.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 12.42 p.m.
§ Mr. HACKING
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The proposed new Clause is submitted in place of Clauses 6 and 7 which I shall, later, ask the House to omit from the Bill. It combines the functions of those two Clauses. At the same time it alters the Short Title so as to bring it into conformity with the long Title. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) a short time ago inferred that this was to be a big alteration in the Bill but it is really nothing of the kind because, as he will see, the object of the Bill is described as being "to provide for the licensing of dog racing courses." That is laid down in the long Title. It is customary that the Short Title should conform to the long Title, purely for convenience of reference at a later date and people who are searching for an Act dealing with the licensing of dog racing courses are more likely to find it under the Short Title "Dog Racecourse (Licensing) Act" than under the 426 Short Title "Dog Racing (Local Option) Act."
This proposed new Clause also fixes the date on which the Measure is to come into operation as 1st October, 1933. The reason is that if the Bill becomes an Act it cannot receive the Royal Assent until, probably, July. In August and September most local authorities are in recess and, as a certain amount of administrative work will be necessary before the Act could be used, it is desirable that it should not come into operation sooner than 1st October. I should mention in passing that this provision does not affect the moratorium Clause. The moratorium only applies to dog racecourses which were being used before 4th December, 1932, and the fact of 1st October being the date when the Act is to come into operation, will not interfere with the moratorium provision. It is purely a question of drafting and convenience.
§ 12.45 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I want to ask whether it is your intention, Mr. Speaker, to call any Amendments relating to the licensing of tracks by other than local authorities. If it is your intention to call those Amendments, all of us, I think, would be agreeable to this proposed change in the Title. If, on the other hand, it is not proposed to call those Amendments, I think we ought to be quite honest and to retain the words "Local Option," so that the world should know definitely that for the first time in 427 history local option is to be applied to amusements in this country.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I imagine the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) is referring to the Amendment in his own name and in that of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) in Clause 1, page 1, line 10, to leave out the word "local" and to insert instead thereof the word "licensing"?
§ Mr. M. BEAUMONT
No, Sir. The Amendments which affect this particular issue are those in the name of the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), entirely to alter the constitution of the licensing authority.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not propose to call that Amendment. I do not propose to call any Amendment which deals with a Dog Racing Control Board.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
In those circumstances, I ask the House to reject this proposal of the Government to alter the Title of the Bill. I take the view that there is no reason why different principles should be applied to one amusement from those applied to any other amusement. The long Title of this Bill is a general licensing Title, but we shall have no opportunity of giving effect to provisions which come within the wider scope of that Title, because, quite naturally, the Report stage is not the time to introduce Amendments of that character. If the previous Motion had been carried, I think it would have been possible. If the Bill is to remain in fact a local option Bill, if one form of amusement, which I personally patronise very rarely, is to be subjected to a system which is entirely novel in the legislation of this country, let us be honest and say so. No one has suggested, for example, that football grounds should be subject to local option, or cricket grounds, or horse-race tracks, or golf courses, or tennis clubs. I happen to live on the other side of the River Thames from a very large football ground, and I can hear a mile away far more noise from that football ground than anything that comes from either of the three or four greyhound racing tracks that I have ever visited.
428 Therefore, if we establish a fundamental principle of a kind that we would not have contemplated but for the fact that a few rather undesirable promoters are trying to dump down tracks in quite unsuitable places, let us tell the world fairly and squarely that this Bill is not a Bill which complies with its long title, but one which complies with its new title. I think we shall not be acting honestly if we tell the world that this is a licensing Bill and refuse to tell the world that it is a local option Bill. I am very dubious of the right of my neighbours to control all my actions. We live in a civilised community, and we want a reasonable measure of control, but I hold the view that that tendency is spreading much too rapidly and that in due course we shall have a violent reaction to the present tendency to interfere with everybody and with everything. If this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, I want it to leave this Chamber accurately described, instead of in the misleading way in which it will be described if this new Clause is carried.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
I want to oppose changing the title of the Bill. I put down various Amendments which I was told would be in order within the form of the long title, and I want to explain why I put down those Amendments. I have no objection at all to a local authority having a voice in the licensing of tracks, but I want to see the sport run cleanly, and properly controlled. Let me give the House an illustration. Would hon. Members, even with a wide stretch of imagination, believe that the local authority in whose area a racecourse was situated would be able to control the races that took place there better than would the Jockey Club? Local authorities may license with regard to amenities and traffic control, but they have no experience to control the sport as such. Every sport that we know of has a controlling authority that makes proper rules and regulations, and that is one of the reasons why I put down my Amendments, so that the public will get a square deal and fair play, and the sport will be carried on in accordance with the highest traditions governing British sport. In dog racing there are dogs that will be transferred from one course to another, so that one local authority will have no control over dogs in the area of another 429 authority. Therefore, I wish the House to consider whether in their view, although a local authority might have the power of licensing a track as such, another authority should not be set up to control the sport. I think that is highly desirable.
§ 12.53 p.m.
§ Mr. M. BEAUMONT
I also wish to oppose this new Clause. Frankly, if I may say so without offence, the hypocrisy of this Clause is extremely undesirable. Local option is a well-known and well-defined phrase, and it has been one of the principles of the Liberal party for a great number of years, and one on which they have lost a number of general elections. It is a principle to which we in the Conservative party have always been, until now, unalterably opposed, and personally I am still opposed to it. But if this overwhelmingly Conservative House of Commons has been converted, having followed the great light of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. I. Foot), to the sacred principle that every petty little local authority should be allowed to interfere, almost without limit, with the lives of the inhabitants, then let us frankly say so, let the Government say so, let us call this thing what it is in fact, namely, a local option Bill, and, if that is the wish of the House, let us proceed to introduce a lot more such Bills under the same name. We were not elected to do it, we have always opposed it in principle, but if all that is to be changed, let us get on with it.
I cannot see under what circumstances the right hon. Gentleman can justify his new Clause. We have been told repeatedly that local option is absolutely inherent in the terms and principle of this Bill, that it is there because the promoters and supporters of the Bill believe that that is the way in which the thing should be dealt with. That is not a point of view which I hold. I respect it as a point of view, but why seek to cloak it? I hope we are not to think that my right hon. Friend does not want to go back to his constituents in Lancashire, and say, "Oh, of course, I have always opposed local option, and I regard it as wrong. It is true that I gave sympathetic consideration to a Bill which grants local option in respect of one of your amusements, but that was not really local option, that was licensing." When 430 the great Liberal party in those days—they were great numerically—introduced their various local option Bills in connection with the drink trade, they did not call them licensing Bills. They knew perfectly well that licensing had nothing in itself to do with local option and that you could licence without giving the power to anybody locally at all. They knew that the normal way to licence was through a central authority.
Why do the Government and the supporters of the Bill wish to camouflage their evil actions by changing the short Title of the Bill? This House is too often lately trying to pretend, possibly unconsciously, to the public outside that it is doing one thing when in point of fact it is doing something quite different. Rightly or wrongly, under the Bill as it stands we are introducing this much vexed question of local option for the first time, and hon. Members below the Gangway, if ever they are in a position to have power, will not forget this precedent. If I were in their position I should not. We are laying down a, precedent on a definite principle to which the majority of the House has always taken the strongest exception. I oppose it, but if we are to do it let us at least be honest and call it local option. I do not know what reasons may have actuated the right hon. Gentleman and the promoters in this change of policy, but I beg the House and the right hon. Gentleman not to try and hide behind the term "licensing." There can be no conceivable advantage in it. We know that the Bill is to give local authorities power to give licences, but the point of the Bill is not licensing. I would agree to that; there is not a Member who does not want to see tracks licensed, but the contentious point of the Bill which matters is the question of local option, and I hope that the House will reject this proposed new Clause.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman who is the promoter of the Bill will tell us what he thinks of it. After all, he has made a courageous stand for the principle of local option, and apparently, since he has done that, he believes in it. He has done a remarkable thing in getting the Bill up to Report stage, and he may get it through a House, the majority of which is 431 unalterably opposed to the spirit underlying it. It is a fine performance from a Parliamentary point of view. Does the hon. Member wish to camouflage his action under the term "licensing"? Is he ashamed of what he has done and ashamed to stand up openly and say that he believes in local option?
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
Then is the hon. and gallant Member prepared to support this new Clause to cloak the intention of the Bill, an intention which he has nobly pursued, and to hide it behind the term "licensing"? I suggest that this proposed Clause is a piece of unnecessary humbug, that is it most undesirable, that it is showing the country that we are doing one thing which we would not have been elected to support and are calling it something else. I hope that on reflection the promoters of the Bill will say that this is not a course which the House should pursue and to which the great National Government should lend its support. They ought to stand up for straight honest dealing and carry out the magnificent example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who told us the truth about unemployment. We ought to tell the public the truth about this Bill. It is contrary to everything to which this party has ever set itself, to introduce this Bill, a poisonous Measure of local option, and it should be called what it in fact is, a Dog Racing (Local Option). Bill.
§ 1 p.m.
§ Mr. WISE
I feel some sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman in his endeavour to change the Title of the Bill because, as a fact, he has already changed almost the entire Bill, and both he and the promoters are pressing Amendments to change it further. It seems a pity, therefore, that it should be allowed to continue under the same Title which it had when it received the Second Reading. The only part of the Bill which received Second Reading which has survived is the principle of local option. We should therefore keep the Title unless the promoters would be willing, in order to justify the proposed new Title, to withdraw the Bill so as to admit of a proper discussion of what the licensing authority should be. 432 Some of us on this side of the House and some hon. Members on the other side have strong views as to how a dog-racing track should be licensed and controlled. I am sure that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) and myself are in agreement on some parts of this problem, although I think that we are not in agreement on anything else politically or otherwise.
There is on all sides of the House a general desire that dog racing should be properly controlled. There is also, I think, a desire that the wishes of the local authorities should not be ignored and that they should have a considerable say in how or when dog tracks should be started in their district. I suggest that the method laid down in this Bill is not the way to do it and is not likely to have any success in its attempt so to regulate it. Therefore, we must either allow ourselves to discuss a proper form of licensing, which means the withdrawal of this Bill, or we must restore the old Title of the Bill and, as the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) said, make it quite clear to the country that we are definitely saying that the sole licensing authority that will ever have any control of dog racing is the local authority; also that that control of the local authority will be so limited and circumscribed as to be useless, and that, in fact, dog racing will never have a chance of reaching a satisfactory state of affairs. If that is the intention of the Government and the promoters of the Bill, I think the original Title is best. For that reason I suggest that as a gesture of protest the House should reject the Amendment.
§ 1.4 p.m.
I am glad to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman's voice at last. I do not suppose there has been an occasion on which a more impassioned speech has been made than that which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont). I have been waiting to hear one of the promoters of the Bill oppose the new Clause and stand up for the name of the Measure they introduced. The result of my waiting was to hear an 433 abortive attempt to move the Closure. I understood earlier in the day that there were something like only 40 words of the original Bill remaining. Now the Under-Secretary comes along and tries to filch a few more away, so that there will be practically nothing left except "and's," "the's" and a few commas. I should have thought that such of the Members whose names are on the back of the Bill as are present to-day—most of them are absent—would at least have stood up in defence of the title. I am perfectly cognisant of the phrase about giving a dog a bad name, and I suppose it applies to dog Bills also. An hon. Friend says a question of principle is raised by this proposal to change the title of the Bill. As a "Dog Racing (Local Option) Bill," its principle would appear to be to get local option working on this form of amusement, whereas if we call it a licensing Bill the emphasis is transferred to the word "licence." I should have thought the Members of the party who are always proclaiming the beauties of local option would have risen to insist on those words being retained in the title. It would have been a little Liberal triumph—they had not too many in these days—to get through a Local Option Bill.
§ Mr. HACKING
The hon. and gallant Member says that by this new Clause I desire to alter the title of the Bill. I do not desire to do anything of the kind. The title of the Bill will remain exactly the same, but we think it will be for the convenience of hon. Members who in years to come may desire to find the Measure dealing with the licensing of dog tracks if we give it this short title. They will be able to find the Bill easier under the short title than under the longer title.
If we call it the "Dog Racecourse (Licensing) Act" I agree that it will come a little earlier in the alphabet, because "Li" comes before "Lo," and it may be easier for anyone to find it. The short title is that by which Bills are called in the popular and uninstructed world, though no doubt a, skilful expert like the right hon. Gentleman would not only know exactly where to find the Bill but would be able to expatiate at great length upon it—which is more than the promoters can. But the ordinary person when referring to this Bill, perhaps even 434 the people who are concerned with local government, certainly the Press, would say that it was a local option clog racing Bill, and to that extent I concede him his point if he wants it. What I have been arguing is that as the whole emphasis had been placed upon local option we should stick to those words in the description of the Bill, and I shall vote for keeping them in.
Really I did not rise to make these remarks at all, but to ask the Under-Secretary, who is the one person who has been vocal on behalf of this new Clause, to tell us a little more about it. He says that the change does not amount to very much, and that the chief effect of this new Clause and the consequential Amendments will be to turn round the order in which the short title and the reference to the Bill not applying to Northern Ireland appear. We now get the short title first and the reference to Northern Ireland second. A point also arises in connection with the date. He said that a certain amount of administrative work would be required to get the Bill into operation. A certain amount of administrative work generally implies a certain amount of expenditure. Has there been any estimate of the amount of that expenditure? Does he mean that some considerable expenditure will be involved, or merely that a lot of time will have to be given to doing nothing in particular and doing it very well. If there is to be any expenditure we ought to be told about it before we go any further. If not, why should not the Bill come into operation straight away? [Interruption.] I see, it is impossible.
§ Mr. HACKING
All I meant was that it could not come into operation before it passes. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman, with his Parliamentary experience, will realise that a Bill does not come into effect until it has received the Royal Assent.
It has not escaped my notice that the Bill will require the Royal Assent before it becomes an Act. Why should not the Bill come into effect as from the time when it receives the Royal Assent? If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman hopes the Bill will not come into effect until he gets further advice from the Royal Commission which the Government 435 have set up to deal with betting, then let us put in a much more remote date than October, in order that any legislation which may be required following the report of the Royal Commisison can be made to conform with this particular piece of legislation. From every point of view it seems to me that the 1st October is about the stupidest date which could have been chosen, though, as I am not particularly struck with the wisdom of this Bill, that is not a thing which a priori one would regard as unexpected. It is very distasteful to anyone who has been a loyal supporter of the Government, and particularly of the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State, to ask the House to reject anything which he puts before us, but I think it would be a sad piece of hypocrisy to change the Title of this Bill. It is a local option Bill. All the arguments have been on the question of local option; the arguments about licensing have always been ruled out of order. Mr. Speaker has said that he is not going to call any of the Amendments proposing alternative forms of control of licensing. That demolishes the whole ground work for saying it is a licensing Bill. The House gave it a Second Reading because it was a local option Bill, presumably, and as it has never been discussed as a licensing Bill it would he wrong that it should leave this House with any other description than that of a local option Bill. I hope the House, I will not say in its wrath, but as tenderly as it can, will reject the advice tendered by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ 1.13 p.m.
§ Mr. HACKING
The hon. and gallant Member has told us that he would not care to be disloyal to the Government by voting against them on a recommendation put before the House on their behalf. I wish to assure him that there will be no question of that loyalty or disloyalty in connection with this Bill. It was never the desire of the Government to interfere unduly with Private Members' days. I am here to-day only to advise the House on what I think is the right method of procedure in certain cases. If the House in its wisdom decides that I am wrong, and if the majority of the House is against my views, then the Government will not interfere in any way. The 436 Government do not intend to put on their Whips for this or any other Amendment, and they never did intend to do so, and therefore my hon. and gallant Friend can vote exactly as he likes with out any guilty feeling in his conscience.
If we carry this Amendment it will not cast any discredit on the right hon. Gentleman himself in higher quarters?
§ 1.15 p.m.
§ Sir PHILIP DAWSON
I rise to oppose the proposal which is now made to change the title by which the Bill would become known to the general public. I have always understood that in order to obtain a licence for something you have to fulfil certain conditions, whether it is a licence for a motor-car, a public-house, or whatever it may be. There are important provisions which must be provided in respect of dog racing tracks if they are to be properly run, but there is no indication that the Bill as it stands will give local licensing authorities any power to control the running of dog tracks. If that power were included in the Bill, it would be the first time that any form of sport had had to be run under rules and regulations imposed by any local or public authority, and it would not be possible for me to move the various Amendments which stand in my name dealing with what I consider to be necessary for properly regulating dog racing tracks. The only difference that is proposed to be made in the title is in one word, between "dog racing local option" and "dog racing licensing." Surely, that is not such a difficult matter as it would appear for those who in future will want to find out what Bill has been passed in connection with dog racing. The new title would convey an utterly wrong impression, certainly to my constituents, as to what the Bill really stands for.
The Bill makes no regulation of any kind and imposes no conditions which I consider essential in order that dog racing tracks may be operated in a straightforward and proper manner. There is nothing to prevent the owners of tracks doing what they like when they like, or to prevent a large number of dog racing 437 tracks being started. It is possible that local authorities may be found close to each other who may believe that by opening a new dog racing track, even though it is not wanted, they will help trade and bring people into their districts. I consider it essential that there should he some supreme authority not biased by any local opinion but considering only what is best for the public.
Even on the question of local option this Bill is not perfectly fair. Many hon. Members will agree with me that local authorities do not always represent the view of the bulk of the population over whose destinies they preside. In the case of the cinema, it was required that there should be a referendum to the bulk of the people, many of whom unfortunately do not realise their obligations to vote in municipal elections in order to see that they are properly governed. The referendum gave them an opportunity of expressing their opinion. Nothing of the kind is included in this Bill. A local authority may say either "Yes" or "No" when, if there were a referendum, the bulk of the population might entirely disagree with the view expressed by the local authority. It is a great pity that this incomplete Bill deals neither with local option nor with regulations for putting all those things right which many of us believe are wrong with dog racing tracks. There is nothing in the Bill to do good to anyone; the Bill is going to do harm all round. The proposal for the new title is entirely deceptive, as it would lead the people to believe that we had done something to regulate dog racing and the way that it is operated, and for that reason I oppose the proposal.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I am very gravely concerned as to what the Government are doing in this matter. I was delighted and relieved to hear the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill say that it would not go against himself or anyone else if we—
§ Mr. HACKING
This is not my Bill, and I am not in charge of the Bill. It is a private Member's Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) is in charge of the Bill.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) is not here now, and the right hon. 438 Gentleman is in charge of the Government Amendments to the Bill. As such, the right hon. Gentleman is the responsible spokesman for the nebulous position of the Government on the Bill. May I call him "the spokesman for the nebulous position which the Government takes up"? I want to know what the Government are playing at? The right hon. Gentleman said that he was trying to make the Bill rather shorter, but, if he looks at what is happening, he will see that he is taking Clause 6 and cutting it out, taking Clause 7 and cutting that out, putting in a new Clause which has something to do with Clause 7 but putting it into much longer and unnecessarily long words, and then putting the old Clause 6 back into the new Clause as Sub-section (2) which says:This Act shall not apply to Northern Ireland.Why do you want to do all that? I should have thought there was a simpler way. My understanding of Parliamentary procedure is that in trying to get a Bill through quickly you should never put anything unnecessary on the Order Paper. Are not these rather unnecessary Amendments, and would not the Government save time if they chucked their hands in? That would save all the supplementary Amendments which come in afterwards. I am trying to help everyone in this matter. I am fairly innocent in Parliamentary procedure, but I have heard of people who put down Amendments in an indiscriminate way.
I want to know why we are not extending this Bill to Northern Ireland? I cannot make out why Northern Ireland should be left out. We are applying it to Scotland and Wales, and to other important parts of the country like Devon and Cornwall? Why should Northern Ireland be left out? It is a great insult to Northern Ireland that it should be left out of these good things.
§ Captain ALEXANDER BROWNE
Northern Ireland would be much relieved if Northern Ireland were left out.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
That observation did not reach many of us here, but I have no doubt that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will give us the position later. I stand up for the rights of Northern Ireland, and I want to see no weakening of 439 those. This is a very important Clause. My hon. Friend who sits for Eddisbury (Mr. R. Russell) is somewhat in disagreement with his colleagues as to the correct wording. I have an enormous admiration for his ability, without which I am sure he dould not have made that speech earlier in the day. I want to ask him whether he agrees with this important change, or is he the person who is at the back of the controversy Has he been to the Government and persuaded them to move this Clause, in order to cook the goose of the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn? I do not want to accuse him of these things, but he ought to make his position clear and above-board, as I feel sure he will. It really is rather a tragedy that the Government should come down—I must be careful what I say, because I see that the Patronage Secretary is here—with this reversing policy. I do not like to see the Government changing things round in this way. I think it is perfectly monstrous, in the case of a Bill like this, when the Government, or the spokesmen on behalf of certain proposals —I have forgotten the exact definition that I gave just now—come and do this kind of thing. It makes matters additionally difficult for Members in the same position as myself, who, while taking an interest in the Bill, were not on the Committee upstairs.
We simply do not know where the proposers of the Bill are on this matter. They seem to accept something occasionally, and at other times they do not. Of course, we have great confidence in those whose names are on the back of the Bill, but I think it ought to be made clear whether this is really a proposal of theirs or not. We have not had any help on this matter, even from those on the Front Bench, who are generally so apt at explaining a position in such a way that, if it is hopelessly confused almost beyond human understanding, they make it so confused that no human being at all can understand it. On this occasion I, at any rate, am quite unable to determine my position in regard to this matter, although, perhaps if the right hon. Gentleman who is actually making this proposal should find his way into the Lobby, I might try and follow him, but he does not seem to be very clever at getting there this morning.
§ 1.27 p.m.
Captain A. EVANS
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) ought to feel very much indebted to the Under-Secretary for the gallant manner in which he is doing work which really ought to be done by my hon. Friend himself. I rise to oppose the alteration of the Short Title. I ventured to add my name to certain Amendments which were put down by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lewisham (Sir P. Dawson), because, in view of the fact that some time back the House had been given an opportunity of discussing alternative methods of betting in connection with greyhound racing, I naturally assumed that the House would also be afforded an opportunity of discussing alternative licensing bodies. I am one of those who feel that local authorities are not the right people to lay down strict rules and maintain certain standards of racing in this country. I think that the views of local authorities should be sought as far as regards amenities in their own districts, but I venture to think that there are not many local authorities in this country who would welcome the throwing of an issue of this kind into the cockpit of their local elections.
Many Members of the House will have received this morning a circular from the County Councils Association dealing with various Amendments affecting local option and licensing bodies, and, if I may refer them to page 2 of that circular, they will observe there, in the fifth paragraph, that the position in which we find ourselves, in view of certain Amendments on the Order Paper which I gather have been ruled to be in order, will be that it will be possible for no less than 1,717 licensing bodies to be set up to consider the question of applications which may be submitted by interested parties in various local centres, while even at the best, in the event of those Amendments not being accepted, no fewer than 145 authorities will have the "say-so" in regard to these applications. As far as I can see, we are speedily getting back to a position from which, in other instances, we are anxious to escape. As regards local option in connection with the drink question, we have the absurd position of being able to obtain a drink on one side of Oxford Street at 11 p.m., while on the other side we cannot obtain 441 it after 10.30. One can readily imagine the trouble and anxiety which local authorities have to confront when they are called upon to give their decision on these important matters.
I am very surprised that on this question of the short Title of the Bill we have not heard from some of the Welsh Liberal Members of Parliament, because they know that in certain parts of the Principality the name of local option has only to be mentioned to call forth that vigorous criticism which is so characteristic of people who hail from Wales, and I am indeed surprised that, in view of the battle which confronts its in the constituencies, they have not risen in their places to support my hon. Friend the Member for West Lewisham. After all, it is very easy to misunderstand a short Title of "Licensing Bill," whereas in the minds of the Welsh people there is not the slightest doubt at any time as to what is meant by local option. I think it is agreed by Members in all quarters of the House that the Bill as it has come from the Committee has been altered in many important respects, and, in order to countenance that alteration, my right hon. Friend has come down to the House this morning to say that, to bring the alterations into line, we must alter the short Title. I venture to think that it is not strictly honest to alter the Title in this way, which would lend itself to such serious misrepresentation in the constituencies, and particularly in the part of the world a division of which I have the honour to represent in this House. For this reason, if for no others, I hope most sincerely that the House will reject this proposed alteration of the short Title.
§ 1.31 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I am rather suspicious of this attempt to alter the Title of the Bill. According to the Title, the Bill itself is a Local Option Bill, and Clause 7 of the Bill as it comes from the Committee says:This Act may be cited as the Dog Racing (Local Option) Act, 1933.I say that I am suspicious—though I do not say that there is any ulterior motive —of what is going to happen if the alteration proposed by the Under-Secretary is made. Standing first on the Order Paper this morning we have a proposed new Clause in the name of the Secretary of 442 State for Scotland, which involves a large number of legal issues. If the Bill is now to be given the Title of a Licensing Bill instead of a Local Option Bill, that will be the Title quoted before the local authorities. In paragraph (f) of the Secretary of State for Scotland's proposed new Clause we find a comparison between what is going to be done in Scotland with what is being done in England under Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 of the Bill. Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 of the Bill states that:The provisions of the Summary Jurisdiction Acts with respect to appeals shall apply with the necessary modifications to an appeal under this section as if the decision of the local authority were an order of a court of summary jurisdiction.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and, 40 Members being present—
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
In the Scottish Clause there is a reference to Clause 2 (2) of the Bill. That Sub-section states:The provisions of the Summary Jurisdiction Acts with respect to appeals shall apply with the necessary modifications to an appeal under this section as if the decision of the local authority were an order of a court of summary jurisdiction, and the court of quarter sessions may confirm or reverse the decision of the local authority or may grant the licence subject to any such condition as might have been imposed by the local authority; and any such licence granted by the court of quarter sessions shall have the same effect as if it had been granted by the local authority.The Amendment of the Under-Secretary of State brings this to an entirely different issue from that set out in the Title of the Bill, which we are told is to remain the real Title. The Sub-section that I have read out entirely destroys the short Title. It means that any court can give a licence to a dog-racing track without the authority of the local council. I can now understand why the Under-Secretary is seeking to omit the Clause. In order to make this a proper local option Bill, we ought to have the words, "A Bill to provide for the licensing of dog racecourses by local authorities." The Bill, as it stands, is not a local option Bill. It gives power to local authorities, but it also gives power to local courts, justices of the peace, and sheriffs in Scotland, to hear appeals against decisions by local authorities, and they can, if they think fit, override the decisions of the 443 local authorities, and grant licences. This, therefore, ceases to be a local authorities licensing Bill, and that is why the Under-Secretary wants to alter Clause 10, leaving out the words "local option." The Bill, as introduced, was a Dog Racing (Local Option) Bill. It was argued out before the Committee under that Title, and it comes down to the House under that Title, and we ought to continue with the Title that it originally had and, if there is to be any alteration, alter the Title by inserting the words "by local authorities."
§ 1.43 p.m.
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
References have been made to the presence of the Tinder-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and, certainly, any Amendment moved by a representative of perhaps the oldest office of State deserves our most careful consideration. The presence of a representative of that office shows that this is considered an important Bill for the maintenance of peace in England and the care and well-being of His Majesty's subjects. It is a tribute which we must recognise to the importance of this matter, for the Englishman is a strange being, composed of two principles, which he manages to harmonise and, when he is doing one, he despises the other. He believes in work and he believes in play. If you interfere with his work, a national Government may be perturbed, but, if you interfere with his play, any Government may be perturbed. We are discussing an amusement which is highly popular and which calls for some governmental regulation. I am glad that in the question of the Title, at any rate, in this Amendment the word "dog" is left, for we are discussing dogs of all kinds and all habits. There is no specific recommendation in the Bill that only one type of dog may be raced.
I am a little disturbed that the word "racing" should be left out. It is surely unphilosophic and unsound that the principal purpose of the Bill should be left out. Racecourses do not exist to grow roses or cabbages. We are discussing the licensing of an actual process, and the racecourse itself is only secondary to the sport which is the subject of this afternoon's Debate. We are also asked to change the title from "Local Option" to "Licensing." There is nothing more 444 important than that the spirit of local option should be maintained, and you do not do it, even if you intend to maintain it in the Bill, by taking it out of the title and replacing it by a title familiar to licensed victuallers and to brewers but not very familiar to those who are accustomed to sport in its cleanest and best aspects.
But I have no destructive criticism to make without suggesting alternatives. If you look into the Bill there are many better points which might be included in the title if local option is to go. For instance, we are asked in the Bill to limit the days and hours upon which the premises may be used. In other words, it is a Bill of some interest to the Ministry of Labour, and might be entitled, "Dog Racing (Conservation of Hours) Bill." That would be quite sound. Then the Home Office is probably interested in fires. It is one of its official legal responsibilities. This Bill professes to give protection to His Majesty's subjects against their untimely end by fire in ill-constructed racecourses. If this Bill were entitled the "Dog Racing (Prevention of Premature Death by Fire) Bill," there would be something which was sound in intention and better than licensing of racing, for which the Bill is brought forward. The Ministry of Health are intrested in the Bill, for the populace are to be drawn to the racecourses by countless thousands and may be a source of epidemic infection, and I am pleased to see in the Bill that we have to provide adequate sanitary accommodation. So that the Bill might be entitled, "Dog Racing (Promotion of the Health of Attendants) Bill." It would give some indication that we are entering on the dawn of an Health Age where we not only inspect our factories and workshops for health and sanitary arrangements, but we shall also expect the amusement of dog racing, and, later, football and cricket, conducted under proper hygienic and sanitary conditions. It is very important that the ancient Christian traditions in this country should be preserved, and no one knows what might happen to England if dog racing took place upon certain sacred days. Therefore you might omit "Local Option" from the title and say instead, Dog Racing (in Accordance with Historic Religious Traditions) Bill, and that 445 would explain that in future dog racing should not take place on Christmas Day, Good Friday, or Sunday.
There is a laudable provision inserted in the Bill to which no reference, unhappily, is made in the title. If you turn to page 5 of the Bill you will see how many times the word "constable" occurs. The protection of His Majesty's constables is worthy of the attention of the Home Office, and I have no doubt that the Under-Secretary is present this afternoon to support the Clause that any person who obstructs a constable in the exercise of his powers shall suffer. In other words, you might have "Dog Racing (Protection of Constables) Bill." That is a strong indication as to why on a Friday afternoon, on a, beautiful day, we are sacrificing our health to discuss the protection of constables who are carrying out their normal duties on racecourses. It would be deplorable if at any place where land could be bought the amenities of the neighbourhood might be destroyed by the untimely erection of dog race courses. The maintenance of amenities has been considered by all of us in the Housing and Town Planning Bill, and it was so important that we sacrificed many long nights in discussing that Bill. That work has not been forgotten, for in page 3 we understand that the Bill will conserve the amenities of neighbourhoods and of premises. Therefore, I am confident were the Bill to be called "Dog Racing (Maintenance of Amenities) Bill" it would be an even better indication of the scope of the Bill before us.
It may be in the opinion of some Members that it is undesirable for this country to go to the dogs. I understand that later on the Order Paper we may be invited instead to go to the Divorce Court, arid perhaps in the dispositions of the High Gods who look after our deliberations it is considered better far this country that we should go to the dogs even on a Friday afternoon rather than to the Divorce Court. It is because of those many reasons that I look with some apprehension upon the Amendment which has been proposed in the name of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department on a Bill which has much to recommend it, inasmuch as it conserves so many good principles, and those prin- 446 ciples are not referred to in the Title a the Bill.
§ 1.51 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN
I feel that it is almost time that someone rose to support the proposal of the Government, and it is particularly fitting that I should do so, because I am afraid that I have been so often unable to support various Measures coming from the Government, and for one reason or another it gives me immense pleasure to support the right hon. Gentleman in the alteration of the Title of the Bill. I think that, there is every reason for it. If you look at the Bill, you find in almost every other line the word "licence." The various authorities which are to grant the licences, whether the local authority, the county council or the London County Council, are all mentioned in the Bill. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. He said that he would give all the help he could. The word "licence" certainly does indicate the licensed victualler's licence, except that it does not indicate a licence to purvey drink. Would it not be wise to make it perfectly clear that it is not intended in any way to give the local authorities the power to license drink on the racecourse as well as to licence the racecourse itself? There are two or three Clauses in the Bill which leave it very doubtful as to the powers of the local authorities. I am not at all sure that in granting those licences they may not make a rule that no betting should take place. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to assure the House that that could not be possible, and that in granting a licence the question of betting should not come in. We have laws of the country, several rather confusing statutes, about betting, but we are not certain that the word "licensing" when it comes in the title of the Bill does not mean that the local authority should have power of withholding a licence in the event of their objecting to betting, or bookmakers or the totalisator or whatever it may be.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I would remind the hon, and gallant Member that I do not think I can allow the Under-Secretary to answer a query of that kind on this particular Clause. It must come on some other Clause.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPL1N
I realise the fact that I have gone rather outside the 447 Amendment. The other point I wish to raise is the question of Northern Ireland. This country should not in any way interfere with dog racing across the Channel. It may be that when licences granted here locally for dog racing are refused under the Bill owners may take their dogs across to Northern Ireland and there would be able to race without a licence. I think that it is very wise, and I support the Government in their desire, to exempt Northern Ireland from the provisions of this somewhat complicated and difficult Bill. There is one further small point, and that is the date on which the Bill is to come into force. The 1st of October is a peculiar date for several reasons. I do not object to it in itself but I would remind the Under-Secretary that the House will not be sitting on 1st October. Is it wise that an Act of Parliament should come into force at a time when the House is not sitting? Moreover, the 1st October is the date on which licences are granted for the shooting of pheasants. Probably no racing will take place during that period. I hope the hon. Member will explain why he has chosen the 1st October, which is associated in my mind with pheasants and not with dog racing. In changing the Title of the Bill from local option to licensing, he is making it perfectly clear that there is no local option in this Bill in respect of dog racing. I support the Government in the change of Title, because it will make it clear to the public that greyhound racing courses will be licensed, but not by local authorities.
§ 1.56 p.m.
§ Mr. CLARRY
The House is placed in a dilemma. It is in a state of confusion as to what the Bill means, or what the Amendment means or what anything else means in relation to the Bill. Some hon. Members have asked if the Bill has any reference to any other licensing matters.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
May I warn the hon. Member that he cannot go into the whole question of the Bill on this Amendment?
§ Mr. CLARRY
If the alteration of the Title of the Bill is going to give it a wider scope and a proper meaning within the reason that a number of us have for controlling dog racing, I am certainly in favour of it, but if it is merely a formal alteration and does not provide for such matters as proper control, and does not deal with the most burning matter in connection with dog racing, namely, totalisators and bookmakers, which is the real matter at the bottom of dog racing in this country, I am not in favour of altering the Title. If it is going to be confined purely to local option, merely allowing the local authority to exercise their authority in connection with dog racing in their own locality, I think it is a mistake to proceed with the Bill in its present form. The feeling, as far as I can ascertain it throughout the country is that dog racing generally should be under some proper controlling body as well as the local authorities in any local areas.
§ Mr. CLARRY
I am sorry. I thought that you would permit discussion of the Bill generally as being appropriate to the new Title. If that is not so, all I can say is, that it seems to me to be a foolish thing to alter the Title if you are not going to alter the body of the Bill itself. The original Title was one of local option, but a change is being proposed and a sterner local option is being reimposed, although the Title is being altered. That seems to me to be an absurdity. I should like the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), a former Under-Secretary to the Home Department in the Labour Government, to give us his opinion on the question of altering the Title and strengthening the Bill in an opposite direction.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 71; Noes, 116.449
|Division No. 150.]||AYES.||[2.1 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bower, L[...]eut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)|
|Applln, L[...]eut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Browne, Captain A. C.||Campbell-Johnrton. Malcolm|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Campbell, Edward Ta[...]well (Bromley)||Carver, Major William H.|
|Clarke, Frank||Mabane, William||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Clayton, Or. George C.||Maltland, Adam||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Shaw, Captain William T. (For[...]ar)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Munro, Patrick||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Davies, Maj- Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Pearson, William G.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Petherick, M.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, B[...]ston)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Goldle, Noel B.||Rankin, Robert||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Ray, Sir William||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H,||Reld, David D. (County Down)|
|Heilgers. Captain F. F. A,||Remer, John R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Mr. Levy and Mr. Wise.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Rosbotham, Sir Samuel|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Murray-Philipson, Hylton Ralph|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Gower, Sir Robert||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||North. Captain Edward T.|
|Apsley, Lord||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Nunn, William|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wol[...]e||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Penny, Sir George|
|Banfield, John William||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Price, Gabriel|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, Thomas E.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Harris, Sir Percy||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hirst, George Henry||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Briant, Frank||Holdsworth, Herbert||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hornby, Frank||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Burnett, John George||Jenkins, Sir William||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||John, William||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Knox, Sir Alfred||Soper, Richard|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lawson, John James||Storey, Samuel|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Leckle, J. A.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Curry, A. C.||Lewis, Oswald||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Daggar, George||Liddail, Walter S.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Llewellin, Major John J||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Thompson, Luke|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Thome. William James|
|Denville, Alfred||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dickle, John P.||Lymington, Viscount||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Dobble, William||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O, (Ayr)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Donner, P. W.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Edwards, Charles||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams. Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G, C.||Magnay, Thomas||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. sir M.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles|
|and Mr. Elliston.|
§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. In view of the fact that the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs in moving this Amendment, and in reply to various hon. Members who were critical of it, made it perfectly plain to the House that the Bill was not considered a workable Bill unless this proposed new Clause were accepted, is the House not entitled to find out, either from the promoter of the Bill or the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for the Clause that has just been de- 450 feated, what action the promoter intends to take, or what attitude the Government will now take up, since the alteration of title, which they believed 'was so necessary, has been defeated.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I beg to move the adjournment of the Debate in order to give the Under-Secretary an opportunity to reply.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member might amend the form of his Motion to "That further consideration of the Bill be now adjourned."
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I beg to move, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."
§ 2.12 p.m.
§ Mr. M. BEAUM0NT
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I would like to ask the promoters of the Bill what steps they propose to take with regard to this matter. I do not think that in my short experience in the House of Commons I have even known a Bill, or Debate, which has landed in such inextricable confusion. As the House is aware, this is one of the few Fridays allowed for conducting private Members' business. We have now, at ten minutes past two, just negatived the second of the new Clauses on the Paper, and we have still a most important and vital new Clause to consider. We have a matter of one hour and three-quarters before the Debate automatically comes to an end. We shall not then have got through the important Amendments to Clause 1, and the many others which follow on the other Clauses.
No hon. Member of this House, having in view the great interest taken in this matter, and the matters which are to come before us—matters of great principle and deserving most careful and serious attention—can possibly state that there is any likelihood of approaching the termination of the Bill, or even of Clause 1, at to-day's sitting. The Third Reading is naturally deferred, since we have already recommitted certain Clauses of the Bill, in certain respects, to the Standing Committee. The Third Reading has to await the report of that Committee. It has been made perfectly clear that no Member of the House is satisfied with the state of the Bill. I suggest to the promoter that, in view of the feeling of the House, and in view of the innumerable Amendments, he should consider the position and decide whether it is worth the time of the House to proceed with the Bill in this manner. I would suggest that there are various consultations he could hold. He might prefer the new Committee to which reference has been made.
452 The hon. Member would be well advised to withdraw his Bill. It will never become law. I wish to support the Motion that further consideration of the Bill be postponed, and I hope very much that the hon. Member will see that he has made a very gallant attempt to deal with a very important subject. The whole House is with him, but practically the whole House is agreed that in some particular or another the way proposed in the Bill is not the way to deal with it. Having ventilated the subject, I think the promoter might well save the time and trouble of the House by gracefully withdrawing the Bill, the discussion on which cannot, obviously, reach a conclusion.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Sir W. SMILES
I do not wish to accept the Adjournment, because there is a great feeling about this dog racing in all parts of the country. I get numerous letters not only from the North but from other places. One lady wrote from Bournemouth. After all, we have had a most instructive Debate to-day. It is not every day that this House has the privilege and honour of listening to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) five times. I think it is a red letter day in the history of the House. The hon. Member who has just spoken has confessed to being in a state of confusion. Well, if this confuses him, all I can say is that he is very easily confused. I can see now the picture of the completed Bill emerging from this House as I saw it when I introduced the Bill. I am prepared to accept several useful Amendments, and, as for the name, I pay no attention to a name. I, myself, get confused about dog racing names. You have the Greyhound Racing Society and the Greyhound Racing Association, Limited, and various other things which are licensed and unlicensed tracks, and it is very easy for anyone to be confused about a name. I think a defeat over a minor issue of that kind does not express the feeling of this country as to the necessity for licensing dog tracks. At any rate, if this Bill does not go forward, I hope that those people who have opposed it will have placed outside their houses an unlicensed track which will run on every day of the week and on Sunday afternoon, and I shall be very glad to 453 take a share in any track that is going to be put alongside the home of the hon. Member for Aylesbury.
§ 2.18 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I do not think that the House would be treating this Bill fairly if it arrived at a decision without a word in a little more serious tone. What is the position? There are local authorities in this country who are very desirous that Parliament should come to their aid, and Parliament really is not doing its duty to the local authorities. Members who represent divisions where dog-racing tracks have not yet been set up, will find themselves compelled, as some of us are compelled, by pressure of public opinion to take up a very serious attitude towards this problem. Let us see what the position is. This Bill is opposed not because of the small details—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman must not make this Motion an occasion for a complete discussion of the Bill as on Second Reading. It is laid down strictly in the Standing Orders that on a Motion of this kind the discussion must be strictly confined to the Motion which is, "That further consideration of the Bill be adjourned."
§ Mr. DAVIES
I will try to keep my remarks within that Ruling. I am still of opinion that the two points upon which the House is divided can be dealt with in this Bill, which I hope will be allowed to proceed even if it be not concluded to-day. I am absolutely satisfied, in spite of opposition to the Measure, that the decision already taken in the Division Lobby to-day indicates one thing clearly, namely, that this Bill, if allowed to proceed, will be so amended as to admit of giving the local authorities absolute power, without right of appeal to Quarter Sessions, to determine whether they should have a dog racing track or not. I say, therefore, that the House should not stultify itself by carrying the Motion moved by my hon. Friend. The House ought to express its will on those two fundamental points. If this Motion be carried now, the Bill will be practically dead, and I see no opportunity for some time to come to secure the rights of local authorities in this connection. I appeal, therefore, to the House to take a sensible view, to 454 proceed with the Measure and to alter it in those two fundamentals about which, I am sure, we should have a majority in favour of our point of view. If it cannot be done to-day, I am sure it will be done on a future Friday.
§ 2.21 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I want to add one word only, and it is entirely in accordance with the Ruling just given. I appeal to the House to continue the consideration of this Measure, because I am concerned with the respect in which this House is held by the great public outside. There has been a very strong demand for a Measure of this kind, and if we were to accept the Motion that our discussion on this Bill should be adjourned after a single small Amendment in the Title, which has been allowed to occupy more than an hour, has been dealt with it will be clear to the public outside that the vested interests in this sport, or industry, or whatever it ought to be called, are so powerful that they have been allowed to kill discussion in this House of the great principles on which this Bill is founded. I do not want that to go forth outside, as it would be bound to do if the machinations of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) and his friends were to be so successful as to secure the adjournment of the Debate at this stage. I hope, therefore, the House will not accept the Motion.
§ 2.22 p.m.
§ Mr. HACKING
Before a decision is reached on the Motion now before the House, it would, I think, be desirable for the Government position to be stated. Throughout the whole of the Committee stage, and throughout the whole of the Report stage up to the present, I hope I have made it abundantly clear that the Government are not interfering in any way with this Bill. Their great anxiety from the commencement was that if the House desired to have a Bill of this character, the Government would try to make it a workable Measure—a Measure which would actually operate successfully. That has been the Government's sole desire. It is fairly obvious, I think, from the Debate we have had to-day, that the majority of the House do not care to have this Bill placed upon the Statute Book. That being the case, I repeat that the 455 Government are not going to press the Measure. This is a Private Members' day, and private Members should be free to vote as they like. There has been no desire on the part of the Government to take away that freedom from Members. The object of the Clause just defeated was solely to make this a workable Clause. It is obvious that we must have in the Bill a date when the Bill should come into operation. The suggestion was made by the Government that the Bill should come into operation on 1st October. I believe that was a reasonable suggestion. The Government do not press the matter any further. So far as the decision of the House goes with regard to this Motion, if they do not desire to proceed further with the Bill, they can vote in that direction. On the other hand, if they desire the Bill to go forward, the Government in the future, as they have done in the past, will do their best to make the Measure a successful and workable one.
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
With regard to the Title of the Bill, on which the Under-Secretary laid so much importance, does he not consider that a change of Title is necessary either now or at a later stage?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are not now discussing the Clause which was defeated, but a Motion that further consideration of the Bill be adjourned.
§ 2.27 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The Motion has been moved, I presume, because the hon. Member who moved it takes the view that it is now impossible to go forward with the Bill, having regard to all the circumstances. The hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) referred to the decision recently taken as a decision on a minor point. But he cannot have read the Motion on which we recently voted. That Motion related not only to the Title but to the date of the Bill's operation. Even if it had not been passed a state of confusion would 456 have arisen, because the draftsmanship of the Bill, both official and unofficial, is so unsatisfactory as to create the anomaly that the moment the Bill becomes law no greyhound racing can take place without a licence, and that you cannot get a licence without first giving 21 days' notice. You cannot apply for notice under the Act until the Act is in operation. Accordingly, if we go forward with the Bill there will be a hiatus of at least three weeks before any racing will be permitted on any track, because the Bill makes dog racing illegal without a licence.
§ 2.29 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
Everyone will be agreed on one thing, and that is that the Under-Secretary who has spoken on behalf of the Government, has conducted a very difficult task with the greatest possible tact and courtesy. It would not be fair if that was not said this afternoon. As to adjournment of the Debate, I say definitely that I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) say that he would go on with the Bill. I do not think there is anything in the point made by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). On this occasion he is not quite seized on what is a very delicate point. The position of the Bill is quite right, and the hon. Member need not worry. If he lies down and keeps quiet, the Bill will go on. My reason against adjourning the Debate is that the Bill has had a good deal of time spent on it in Committee, and we have spent a good deal of time on it to-day. There are eagle eyes watching how we use private Members' time, and if we quite lightly adjourn the Debate now the Government might seize private Members' time on another occasion; there might be a report made that we were not getting on with our job. I appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont). He and I think alike on certain matters. In its more progressive forms his mind approximates closely to mine. In other ways he has reactionary tendencies, when he gets into alliance with Front Bench Socialists. I ask him to use his great influence with the Socialist party in the interests of private Members generally. Let us get on with the other business.
§ 2.33 p.m.
I want to give an opportunity to my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) to consider if he cannot withdraw some of the words he used just now. He urged that the Motion should not be passed because if passed it would go out that vested interests in the dog racing world had been able to persuade Parliament to their way of thinking. His words were to that effect. I wish on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) to say that he has nothing in the world to do with any vested interest in dog racing. I may add that I have not either, and I am perfectly certain that that statement applies to all hon. Members who have been opposing this Bill on a variety of grounds, some because they dislike local option, some because they think the Bill has not been properly considered, and so on. If there are such vested interests, they have certainly not been voiced either by the hon. Member for Aylesbury or myself.
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
As the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) has made an appeal to me I will say at once that I phrased my remarks unfortunately and if there is considered to be, in what I said, any implication that any hon. Members of this House have been actuated or influenced in the course which they have taken by vested interests, I at once withdraw. All that I wished to indicate was that, if the course proposed by this Motion were adopted by the House, it would be in effect a victory for those who are interested—not people in this House, but those who are interested in dog racing as an industry or whatever you may call it. I wish to suggest that it would create the very unfortunate impression that we had allowed ourselves, perhaps for other reasons, to be made eats' paws of—for that is what it would come to—and that those people who are opposed to any restriction at all and who wish to be free to place dog racing tracks wherever they choose, had won the day.
§ 2.37 p.m.
§ Captain ELLISTON
Quite apart from the important interests of private Members which have been referred to by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) I hope the House will refuse 458 the Adjournment of this Debate. This is a matter of extreme urgency. Not only have we spent much time upon it in Committee upstairs, but the proposal has been considered by and received the general approval of representative bodies of local authorities such as the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations. These bodies are very intimately concerned with local administration and their opinion deserves the serious consideration of this House. With my colleague in the representation of Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) I have good reason to know what a burning question this is to local authorities. We had our own experience in Blackburn where complete strangers, with no local connections, suddenly descended on the town and marked out an area for a track without "by your leave."
Only a few months ago the House was intensely interested in an attack on the amenities of Carlton House Terrace and the "Times," day after day, was full of letters on that subject. I was no more impressed by those letters than by the very pathetic petitions of the working-class residents in the immediate neighbourhood of that greyhound track at Blackburn and by the disappointment and amazement of those people when they learned that they could get no redress and no protection from their own local authority. In view of facts like that, it is necessary that this House, even if we cannot complete the discussion of the Bill to-day, should show the local authorities that we realise what a serious grievance this is. At the time when this Bill was presented, not only were there as many as 187 of these tracks in operation but more than 50 were on the point of being opened or in course of organisation with the sole thought that the totalisator would be available for them. The moment there is any prospect that they will be able to instal totalisators at these courses, tracks will be opened all over the country. Much depends on early action by this House if we are to prevent such a thing happening. It is all very well for gentlemen from remote agricultural districts to tell us that this is not an urgent matter but I think it would be a subject of vigorous protest if, even the ducks and cattle of Aylesbury were to be exposed to floodlights and the shouts of bookies every evening, as the children are in the crowded towns where these tracks have been established. I 459 feel that the House ought to continue this very useful discussion, in order that the country may know how we regard this matter.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
It is said that a house which is divided against itself must fall and hon. Members on the bench in front of me are divided upon this question, because the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) wants this Debate adjourned and the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) does not. Both represent the type of area referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Captain Elliston). I represent a similar kind of area. We have had a dog racing track dumped down in the middle of a thickly populated district. I have been a party to the protests made in that connection and as a member of the local authority I realise the inability of the local authority to give any effective consideration to protests by the affected residents. I am not often in agreement with the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) but his words on this occasion ought to be taken to heart. The public view this matter seriously. Large associations like the County Councils Association have begged this House to take some action and give them the protection which they consider to be necessary in this matter. If the question is to be dealt with in the lighthearted spirit suggested by the attitude of some hon. Members it will be felt outside that the House is not anxious to assist those who are responsible for the maintenance of good order in areas where dog racing tracks exist.
I do not attach any more importance to protests from church people than to protests from other people but neither do I attach any less importance to such protests. A large and powerful organisation was initiated by the church people in the area which I represent to protest against the type of dog track which was established there. Personally, I am not opposed to dog tracks as such, although I have never been at one. I see no reason why dogs should not run. [Laughter.] An Irishman is said to have the opportunity of speaking twice and correcting himself afterwards. What I mean is that I see no reason why dogs should not be run in the way they are run at these dog tracks, in competition one with the other, so long as the tracks 460 are well conducted. But I do see an objection to the type of conduct that takes place at many of these dog tracks at the present time. All decent people, I think, feel the necessity for some form of control. As to what is the best form of control my own view is that control can best be exercised—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must confine himself to the question of whether the Debate should be adjourned or not.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I agree, Sir, that I have wandered from the point. I think it would be a great pity to adjourn this Debate. To do so would mean the killing of the Bill. If I were satisfied that, with the killing of the Bill, the Government would introduce a Government Bill to deal with the matter I might think that a desirable thing to do. The Government have announced general support of the principles of the Bill with certain exceptions. One of these exceptions at least is an important one and they have been defeated on it, and I have no doubt that on some others they would also be defeated. But it would be doing a grave disservice to Parliament if we allowed a Measure of this character to be defeated in the way in which this Motion seeks to defeat it. I hope the House will go on with the Bill and that if the Bill needs improvement, it will get it. If it is found that it cannot be improved, I presume the same thing will happen with regard to this Measure as happened with regard to a very similar Measure when we were considering the question of cinemas, and the Government were ultimately forced to take the matter into their own hands. If this Bill is not given facilities to get on to the Statute Book, the Government will be forced to take similar measures with regard to this very important question of the control of dog racing tracks.
§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
I support the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate because of the confusion that will be caused owing to the decision taken with regard to the date. I rise for the purpose of answering a question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Captain Elliston), who referred to the totalisator. We believe that when the Royal Commission bring forward their report, the Government will bring in legislation with 461 regard to betting and the totalisator generally, and it is obvious that they cannot leave out the question of dog racing, because the totalisator will have to be put on dog racing tracks if it is legalised. Therefore, no harm will be done in adjourning this Debate, and I think that the House will be very wise to wait until we can have one comprehensive Measure dealing not only with the totalisator and betting generally, but with the sport as such. There is no doubt that if the local authorities have the licensing of these dog racing tracks, it should be accompanied by the setting up of some body to control and license the sport that takes place on those tracks, It is certainly essential that the public should realise that we, as Members of
§ Parliament, are anxious to see that they get a square deal and fair play, that there is no ramp, and that the game is run straight. One local authority would have no jurisdiction over a track in another local authority's area, and we know that these animals will be transferred from one track to another; but I do not want to labour that point, as I am getting a little out of order. I hope the House will agree to the adjournment of the Debate without going to a division.
§ Question put, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 54; Noes, 143.463
|Division No. 151.]||AYES.||[2.49 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Moore-Brabazon. Lieut.Col. J. T. C.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Groves, Thomas E.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Bateman, A. L.||Hartington, Marquess o[...]||North, Captain Edward T.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks. Aylesbury)||Hartland, George A.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Beaumont. Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. 0. J. (Aston)||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Knight, Holford||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l>|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Burnett, John George||Levy, Thomas||Thompson, Luke|
|Carver, Major William H.||Lewis, Oswald||Thorne, William James|
|Clarry. Reginald George||Liddall, Walter S.||Titchfield. Major the Marquess ot|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||Logan, David Gilbert||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lymlngton, Viscount||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Denville, Alfred||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Dickle, John P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col, Sir M.||Mr. Donner and Mr. Wise.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, w.)||Doran, Edward||Leckle, J. A.|
|Agnew. Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Duggan, Hubert John||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Duncan, James A. L.(Kensington,N.)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Astbury, Lieut. Com Frederick Wolle||Edwards, Charles||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lunn, William|
|Banfield. John William||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Mabane, William|
|Batey, Joseph||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Birchall. Major Sir John Dearman||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Magnay, Thomas|
|Briant, Frank||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Maltland, Adam|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Goff, Sir Park||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R,|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Goldle Noel B.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Gower, Sir Robert||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Grenfell. David Rees (Glamorgan)||Meller, Richard James|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Grimston, R. V.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Cape, Thomas||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Clarke, Frank||Hales, Harold K.||Munro, Patrick|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Murray-Philipson, Hylton Ralph|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harris, Sir Percy||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H._|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hornby, Frank||Patrick, Colin V.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pearson, William G.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Penny, Sir George|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Curry, A. C.||Jenkins, Sir William||Petherick, M.|
|Daggar, George||John. William||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple,)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pickford Hon. Mary Ada|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Price. Gabriel|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John James||Procter. Major Henry Adam|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isle!)||Shute, Colonel J. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Ray, Sir William||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Soper, Richard||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Remer, John R.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Spens, William Patrick||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Rosbotham, Sir Samuel||Storey, Samuel||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ron Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Summersby, Charles H.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Sutcli[...]e, Harold|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Tate, Mavis Constance||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Selley, Harry R.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Mr. Elliston and Lieut.-Colonel Sir|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Tinker, John Joseph||Walter Smiles.|