§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. RUSSELL
I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, leave out "on any track."
This Amendment raises a very important matter as it affects the national games in which we are all interested. During recent years there has grown up a method of coupon betting which already has had considerable effect on football and is in danger of having even greater effect. I want to deal with the off-the course betting by means of coupons, ranging in value from 2d. upwards. It is a very valuable business, it affects the very poor, and large profits are made out of it. The opinion of those responsible for football administration in this country should be emphasised. I am not sanguine enough to expect that all hon. Members have read the report of the Royal Commission, but considerable evidence was given before that Commission by those who are responsible for football in this country. The Football Associations of England, Wales and Ireland put forward their views and in each case they asked very definitely that some action should be taken to cut out this coupon, or off-the-course, betting from any association with football. The Scottish Football Association said:The Scottish Football Association holds the view that the national value of the game is of sufficient importance to warrant the complete prohibition of coupon betting on football matches and that credit coupon betting, including pools and every other system of betting on the results of football matches, should be made illegal.That is also the opinion of the Football Association and the Welsh Football Association. This kind of betting however has further implications, and it has been stated that several cases are known where efforts have been made to bribe players to lose games in order to assist the organisers of football coupons. A system which takes from the very poor and gives large profits to those who organise this coupon betting, and which is directly in opposition to the welfare of 682 the game itself, should not be tolerated by this Committee. If the Amendment was carried it would cut out at once all this coupon betting, which has grown to such dimensions in regard to football and which, indeed, shows a tendency also to become connected with cricket.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I desire to support the Amendment for reasons which I gave partially on the Second Reading of the Bill. The original Bill contained in Clause 3 the total extinction of all kinds of coupon betting, racing pools, football pools or cricket pools, and as soon as the original Bill was printed the people responsible for football pools convened a conference which appointed a sub-committee. This sub-committee got to work quickly. Who they approached, or how they approached, is still a mystery as far as I am concerned, but the pressure brought to bear on the Minister either inside or outside the House was such that the offending Clause, which would have stifled football pools, was removed from the Bill. On the Second Reading the right hon. Gentleman made little or no reference to the deletion of this very important Clause. The Royal Commission examined this proposal very meticulously, hearing important witnesses and collecting all the information at their disposal, and their unanimous decision was that pari mutuel betting on football should be abolished.
I would like to know what the Attorney-General thought about the deletion of this important Clause, and what the President of the Board of Education thought about it. I am still wondering why that very good Nonconformist, the President of the Board of Trade, should have supported the deletion of football pools from the Bill. So far there has been no reply, but I am assuming that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us today why, immediately pressure was brought to bear, he submitted to that pressure and deleted from the Bill the Clause which abolished football pool's. On the Second Reading of the Bill I read a cutting from the "Sunday Dispatch" which was very relevant to the subject and which proved that all the innocent investors in football pools were not only buying a pig in a poke but were being deliberately robbed and plundered by those who were organising these pools 683 for their own profit. I noticed, recently, that these pools have been so successful that the promoters can now afford to go to Luxemburg and tell us all about them over the wireless on Sunday nights, of course at the expense of those who pay their 2d. and 6d. Curiously enough they always open their programme with the tune "We are in the Money." They are in the money—it is a very appropriate tune.
§ Mr. HANNON
Is the hon. Member telling the Committee that the promoters of football pool betting in this country go to Luxemburg and give broadcasts?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Every Sunday night this actually takes place, after the British stations have closed down. This commenced many weeks ago, and as the weeks go by more and more football coupon companies are taking advantage of the wireless to advertise their wares. There are sound reasons why they can do this. Here is a business where the profits are unlimited, quite unlike the Betting Control Board who are limited to 10 per cent. While the right hon. Gentleman limits greyhound racing companies to 6 per cent. these football companies can take 60 per cent., and nobody can say anything. Within recent memory newspapers were running football competitions. They gave a dozen teams or so and the lucky fellow who named 12 winners might get £1,000 or £5,000. These competitions were rendered illegal, and most people thought it was right, but now, as a result of the deletion of the original Clause of this Bill, the same person who used to send newspapers to the office with a Chance of winning £5,000 can get the same coupon from the same newspaper and send 2d. or 6d. to Liverpool or Edinburgh and it is within the law. It is an extraordinary situation, and I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman is going to say about it. The Royal Commission tell us how easily it can be done, how it was attracting not only the mature man and woman but that juveniles were indulging in what is a speculation. The juvenile thinks with the mature person that he is getting a> square deal. The finances of football pools are such that they scandalise any-one who examines them.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member is now getting beyond not only 684 his Amendment but anything that is done in the Bill.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I bow to your Ruling, but I thought that pari mutuel betting includes the positive and negative side, and as this Amendment negatives pari mutuel betting, which includes football pool betting, that it was relevant to make reference to the companies running these pools.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has explained the position, and I now think he is in order.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
May I read an extract from a letter sent to the "Times" on the 28th May this year, to show the development of this pool business. It reads as follows:On the occasion of the match between Lancashire and Somerset at Old Trafford last week there was distributed to spectators leaving the field an envelope containing a description of Britain's First Cricket Pool. The claim was made that this Cricket Totalisator Pool' presents the follower of cricket with an opportunity to make money in summer to the same extent as the football follower made in the winter.Having commenced with football, and made a real financial success of it, these enterprising pool merchants are now going in for cricket, so that there is to be no lull in their pools during winter and summer. Here is a cutting from a newspaper in regard to racing pools, and Windsor is the race referred to. It says "£1,000 for 3d." I have dozens of such cuttings taken out of newspapers all calculated to catch the uninitiated. On one Sunday a few weeks ago I took cuttings from newspapers showing the development of this kind of thing and the incitement there is to gambling. The Liverpool Tote Limited advertised a £1,000 free competition, Mr. Murphy advertised a total pool of £8,584—he did not say how much he got—and Bart Sharp, Bold Street, Liverpool, also advertised several pools. According to the figures that these people have published, since the football season started their income has more than doubled, and it is fair to assume that the profits of the proprietors have more than doubled also.
685 Let me come back to the Royal Commission's recommendation. It definitely recommended that these pools be abolished. The Football Association of England and the Football Association of Scotland, and indeed every independent person who gave evidence before the Commission, definitely said that football pools ought to be ended. When the Government are dealing with various classes of gambling it seems to me absurd that they should allow this thieving and swindling to continue. There is the financial side of the situation. I have seen advertisements in which proprietors are prepared to pay 7s. to 9s. in the £ to persons who collect the coupons and the money. On top of that they take considerable sums for advertising and fer personal expenses. So when the balance-sheets reach the final stage the poor investor in the pool gets about 7s. for every £ sent in. The two important companies in Scotland, I believe, have been prosecuted three or four times for this form of ready-money betting. Of course ready-money betting is illegal, but they have devised a system whereby what has the semblance of credit betting is possible, and credit betting, of course, is legitimate.
As a result of the evidence submitted to the court in Scotland the figures worked out as follows, I am taking the report of the accountant for the company. There was invested a sum of £10,000. There was paid to commission agents for collecting pool lists £3,500, for advertising in newspapers, etc., £1,500, and the wages and office expenses, printing, postage, etc., amounted to £1,000. Then there was a 10 per cent. deduction for the promoter, with a minimum of £400, and there was left £3,600 to be divided out of the £10,000 sent in by clients. So by all the methods of collecting the odd coppers and shillings of the working classes, with all the suggestion of something for nothing, the investors are getting less than 7s. for every £ they send in to these peoples offices. I had one of the original employés of the biggest firm in Liverpool at my house. He told me how well-off were the three people who started the firm. They had only £100 or £200 to begin with, but at the end of 12 months they were running their Rolls-Royces. No wonder! There is no limitation to their profits; they just take as much from these pools as they feel they dare do, 686 and they give their clients the rest. The Home Secretary is limiting greyhound racing, limiting the profits there. Greyhound tracks may go out of existence, but so long as profits are unlimited foot ball pools will come into existence at an alarming rate; they will grow and grow and still grow again. I want to know why the Home Secretary feels that the football pool business should continue when newspapers have been prevented from advertising their own competitions, and when they can advertise and receive revenue from the advertising of these private pool combinations which the Royal Commission recommended ought to be wiped out of existence.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Questions have been raised in the course of the Debates on this Bill about interference with liberty. That does not apply to this Amendment. If there are those who wish to put their money into the hands of these people under the football coupon system, if they wish to take that risk, knowing some of the facts that have been mentioned by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), they must take the risk. But the whole case for the Bill rests upon three points: The Bill has been recommended to the House and to the country first of all because the inquiry of the Royal Commission showed that there were serious social consequences. The second point upon which emphasis was laid was that, whatever was done for the adult population, the youth of the country ought to be protected; and the third basis of the Bill was that we should not allow any part of the people of this country, and particularly the youth of the country, to be exploited for purposes of private gain. A great many who do not hold my views about what I call the gambling evil would associate themselves with me on that third basis. Those are the grounds upon which the Bill was brought before the House and the country.
I give full credit to the Government for tackling so thorny a matter. My complaint against them is that their courage failed them at a critical point. It is not as if they disapproved this principle, for they approved it. When the Bill was first introduced they said they were going to deal with this matter as well as the rest. It is not as if, looking at the several considerations, they said: "This is not 687 a social evil that ought to be dealt with." By the very fact of introducing their Bill including wording that would have allowed us to deal with this evil they admitted that the evil ought to be dealt with by legislation. It seems to me that the Home Secretary is left with almost an impossible task to show to the country that the rest of the Bill should be carried through, but that this part of the original Bill should not be adopted.
The extent of this evil is amazing. The figures have been already emphasised by the hon. Member for Don Valley. But there was a case of the Edinburgh bookmaker who was prosecuted in 1930. Then it was shown that in February of 1930, the number of coupons circulated in the first week was 110,000, in the second week 110,000, in the third week 116,000, in the fourth week 118,000, and in the fifth week 116,000. The takings for the first week, by one firm, were £920. When this matter was discussed upon the Second Reading I took the figures that had been submitted by the Association dealing with the promotion of football coupons. They tried to plead that the amount that they spent in postage made some claim upon the consideration of the House. The facts were reported in the "Times" of 24th April. The total return in respect of payments to the Postmaster-General for a week was £14,583. The total return in respect of expenditure with the Postmaster-General for a season of 37 weeks was £5,500,000. That meant 700,000 clients per week.
I do not think this House is much concerned if the adult population likes to spend its money in this way. If an adult takes his money and puts it down the sink that is his concern and he must suffer the consequences. But in this case we are faced with the fact that it is a temptation to young people, that yon have in this system the simplest form of gambling, and that this is the apprenticeship to gambling in this country. We shall be discussing later an Amendment to be moved by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) on the question of lotteries. That is a matter which touches the adult population more than does this football coupon betting. It is not as if, in this matter, the appetite is developed by the youngster himself. I have an instance of a boy in my own county who sent in an inquiry in respect 688 of one of these coupon pools many years ago. He is now a very much older man. He is not a Member of this House. At intervals, sometimes of a week, sometimes of a month, a communication comes to him because once he made an application under one of these schemes. There is the tempting proposal put before possible clients.
When the promoters have these vast sums they have the machinery for poisoning the life of the nation, in so far as the boy or girl at the most formative period of life is concerned. If anyone grows up to be a victim of the gambling habit everyone knows that he is useless to society, to his church and to any organisation with which he is associated. I am not now emphasising the evils of this system. It was the Royal Commission that did it. The Royal Commission was not composed of Puritans like myself, or those who were anxious to put their noses into other people's business. It was Commission made up of those who commanded great confidence in this country, and they came to the conclusion that the evil ought to be dealt with. They were unanimous in their recommendation. In 1920 this House thought that this was an evil that ought to be dealt with. That is why there was introduced a Football (Ready Money) Betting Bill. If that Bill had been carried into effect this evil would never have arisen. But the gentlemen who are exploiting the community have found a way of evading the purposes of Parliament. By a device which was described by the hon. Member for Don Valley they have stultified the work of this House and have undone the purpose of this House. The Government have now an opportunity of carrying out what were the obvious intentions of Parliament 14 years ago.
We want to know on what grounds this should not be done? Does the Home Secretary doubt that he will have to deal with it some time? The evasion of difficulties is not the carrying on of government, and this difficulty will have to be dealt with somehow. The conscience of the country will arise and insist that it should be tackled. How long then is this financial scandal to be allowed to continue Money being poured into these pools, not by the well-to-do but by people who can ill afford it. If rich people go to racecourses and spend their £5 or £50 or 689 2100, very well, that is their concern, but these contributions come for the most part from young people, apprentices and the like, to whom the difference of A few pence in the week means a difference in the home. The money spent in this way is largely taken out of the money which ought to go to the mother for the maintenance of the household. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the winnings?"] Can the hon. Member show that these people have a fair deal? The answer in any case is that while the winnings may go in a large amount to one person, the losses will fall upon the many, and I do Lot think that the hon. Member will be able to find anyone who is better off in consequence of the winnings. The remarkable feature of this is that although we find the names of winners of large amounts advertised, very often those whose circumstances are suddenly changed in this way are none the better for it. Frequently they spend all their time and opportunity in trying to win again, and lose what they have already gained.
However, that is an argument into which I was drawn by the interruption. The case for this Bill includes the case for dealing with this evil and the fact that it has not been dealt with in the Bill has robbed the Government of a great deal of support which they might have had. They have to rely in this matter upon the public interest as against vested interests. Vested interests are always vigilant and always concentrated. They can speak in a timely way and bring great power to bear. But the public interest is diffused and very often cannot speak until it is too late. It is often inarticulate. In those who are concerned with the public interest there is, however, a tremendous resource upon which the Government could have called in connection with this Bill, and they would have been able to call upon it much more effectively had they taken a bold line on this matter and said as they have said in reference to the rest of the Bill: "Here is a matter which has been carefully inquired into, and in regard to which a great number of witnesses have been examined; those who have made the investigation, realising the serious social consequences involved, present this recommendation and our course is to take 690 our chance in carrying that recommendation into law."
I very much regret that the Government should have gone back upon their first intention. I very much regret that they are going to leave unchecked this financial ramp, as a result of which, largely out of pennies coming from poor homes certain people are fattening into great riches. The Home Secretary will have to direct his mind to this question: "Are these appeals still to be made through the post; are confiding people to pour their money into these pools in such vast sums, while those who are at the centre of affairs can at their own volition, and without any control whatever, decide how that money is to be dealt with, and can if they like put three-quarters of the money into their own pockets and distribute the other quarter among the dupes who have sent it in, while there is no one to say them nay"? Surely that is a situation which the Home Secretary cannot tolerate,. The police know about it, and are concerned about it in some parts of the country. For the reasons that I have given, following upon the very able statement of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) I support the Amendment. Although I am anxious to have the Bill I am bound to support the Amendment. I want the Bill even if it does not deal with this evil. I made that point clear upon the Second Reading but, as I have said, it is an evil which will have to be dealt with sometime, and the Government would have been in a much stronger position if the whole ground had been covered and if attention had been paid by them to all the recommendations of the Commission which they themselves set up to inquire into this question.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. DICKIE
I do not know to what extent it affects the validity of the argument of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), but he stated that the total return to the Post Office in respect of these pools was £5,500,000 in a season. I have here the figures from which he quoted and they state that the weekly return is £14,583. As there are 37 weeks in the football season that would only make it something like £500,000, and not £5,500,000.
§ Mr. DICKIE
I take it that I am quoting from the same document as the hon. Member. I think he referred to what was reported in the "Times" on 24th April, 1934. It refers to a return of £14,583 per week and a total return in a season of 37 weeks of £5,500,000, but my arithmetic will not permit me to arrive at those figures. I make it that £14,583 multiplied by 37—the number of weeks in the football season—would give a total of £539,571. There is also a statement here that the income for the Postmaster-General is 5d. per client per week, and taking their own figure of 700,000 that would give an income of about £500,000. I could scarcely credit the figure of £5,500,000 which the hon. Member mentioned and I rise merely to ask that the figure should either be corrected or substantiated.
§ Mr. FOOT
I cannot state from memory the figures which I gave during the Second Reading Debate, but I am taking steps to ascertain them, because on that occasion I was not relying upon the communication which appeared in the "Times" but upon a communication made to Members of this House, in which the promoters of these football pools were pleading their case on the ground of the contribution which they made to the Post Office. Perhaps before the discussion on the Amendment is concluded I may have an opportunity of giving the precise figures as I gave them on that occasion.
§ Mr. DICKIE
The document handed to me is similar to that from which the hon. Member was quoting earlier.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I rise to ask the Home Secretary whether before committing himself to a reply on this Amendment he will seriously consider this suggestion. If the Government do not themselves intend to deal with this football coupon evil, as apparently they do not, would they not be prepared to leave it to the House of Commons to take that responsibility by allowing a free vote of the Committee on this Amendment? Thus the Government would not incur the odium, if there is odium to be incurred, and the responsibility would rest where I think it ought to rest on the individual Members of this House to settle whether this evil, as I regard it, ought to be dealt with or not.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I am now able to refer hon. Members to the figures which I gave in the course of the Second Reading Debate. They were based on a communication from the promoters of the football pools themselves sent to all Members of the House, in which we were informed of the extent of football pool betting. The writers of the communication pleaded in support of their case the subvention which they gave to the State through the Post Office. We were told that the Post Office revenue from the circulars and other matters connected with football pools was £145,833 6s. 8d. per week. That we were told was the weekly yield to the Postmaster-General from these football pool transactions and that sum multiplied by 37, the number of weeks in the football season, shows a revenue for the season of £5,500,000. The figures which I quoted earlier and which the hon. Member has also referred to should have been £145,833 per week instead of £14,583 per week.
§ 5.24 p.m.
I hope the Home Secretary will give the Committee some good reason why the Government have left out of the Bill this most important recommendation of the Commission. I do not think I have every heard a better case made for a recommendation than that which has been made for this recommendation by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I beg the Home Secretary to remember that he has to consider not only the people in the House of Commons but people in the country who are interested in the welfare of juveniles. I do not think that the question of the large profits which are made from these pools concerns those people so much as the question of the welfare of the young people. Anyone who goes round and speaks to people who are dealing with the social, moral and spiritual wellbeing of the young people of this country, will find that the Government's failure to deal with this matter has been a deep disappointment to them. We have never been given any reasons for that failure.
If ever a Government had a right to tackle thorny questions it is this National Government. I admire them for having brought in the Bill though I think they were very late in doing so. Had they brought it in earlier they would not have 693 had any difficulty at all. The country and the House of Commons were ready for it but the Government dallied and now we find all the vested interests ranged against the Bill. I ask them to go a little further, and to take another forward step now. I am convinced that if this Amendment were put to a free Vote in this Committee to-day it would be accepted, and the Committee will be doing a great service to the Government by insisting upon it. I could give instance after instance of boys whose whole moral character has been wrecked by gambling begun quite innocently in this way. We cannot do very much in these matters in regard to grown-up people. We can try to check abuses particularly where vested interests encourage people to do things which we consider to be bad for their moral or spiritual welfare but we cannot go very far. If persons are determined to do a certain thing in a free country they are going to do it. But you can do something in regard to the young people.
I cannot understand how the Attorney-General can support the attitude of the Government in failing to deal with this matter. I am horrified at him. I cannot bear to think that he has slipped on this occasion because I have hardly ever known him to slip before on a question of this kind. But I think if he goes to people in the country who are interested in these matters he will find that they are astonished and horrified at the Government's failure in this matter. There is one thing about all Governments, particularly Governments with large majorities, and it is that they have to be whipped into doing things by their own followers. That is particularly the case with a National Government where there are so many leaders that you have no leader at all. This is really a question for the House of Commons, and there are many hon. Members, certainly many of the women Members, who if they had their way, would vote against the Government if the Government had not courage enough to tackle this social evil. I want the Bill, even without a provision of the kind for which we ask, but I would ten thousand times rather have the Bill with such a provision, and I believe that, if the Committee take a stand on the question to-day, they will be doing a great service to the Government. I am a 694 most whole-hearted backer of the National Government both in the House of Commons and out of it, but as I have said before the National Government has too many leaders. If they fail to give a definite lead on a moral and social question of this kind it is up to Members of the House of Commons to see that they are made to do so.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The House is, of course, aware that in the original Bill, as introduced into the House of Lords, there was a provision dealing with this problem. I am told that we ought to have more courage. I am not quite sure whether I have not also been told that I am riding roughshod across public opinion. In any case the Debate as it developed in another place made it clear that this was one of the problems upon which there was a very grave division of opinion. The reason why the Government agreed in another place to drop this provision out of the Bill was that, of course, in the main this Bill deals with on-the-course betting and that, apart altogether from the question as to whether this football pool betting is desirable or undesirable, there are a great many other very difficult aspects of off-the-course betting, street betting, and the like which are not in the Bill; and it was therefore decided that, as our courage at any rate led us to deal with this very thorny problem, we desired to deal with on-the-course betting in the main. That is the broad reason why that matter disappeared.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I think a mistake has been made. I am sure the Home Secretary does not desire to mislead the Committee, but he said that as a result of discussion that took place in the other House, it was withdrawn. I think it was withdrawn before there was discussion.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
As the result of what happened after Second Reading, I think. At any rate the Government had to come to a decision whether they would press forward with it or not, and they came to the conclusion that, while they recognised that there might be evils about this problem and reserved to themselves to put right and deal with this difficulty and other difficulties of off-the-course betting in future, as at present advised the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what did happen after the Second Reading? We are told that reconsideration took place and a decision was taken, but surely we are entitled to know exactly what did happen after Second Reading. Was it not as a result of representations made by the pool people themselves, or was it as a result of representations made by newspapers, or what was the real reason?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I think the actual announcement was made in another place by the Noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of the Bill; that was the actual place in which the announcement was made.
§ Sir B. PETO
Will my right hon. Friend give me some reply to my question, or are we to infer that the Government intend to use the whole of their power and the Government whips in favour of the promoters of these pools?
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
I think the Committee generally will agree with me that the reply of the Home Secretary is about the weakest that has ever been given from that Box. If I remember aright, it was the Government's intention to deal with the evil of football pool betting, and in between a certain date and another something happened. I think the Committee and the country have a right to know from the Home Secretary what actually did happen. Was it because pressure was brought to bear upon him by someone who had money in football pool betting? I do not mind telling the Committee that there was betting on football long before the National Government were ever formed, and I suppose there will he betting on football after they are defeated, with this difference, that in the old days, before football betting became as rampant as it is to-day, there was a fairer system of football betting. In the old days, when a bookmaker offered 4 to 1 for three "homes"—I was not in a pit for nearly 30 years without knowing something about it—there was this difference, that the man who was betting knew what he was going to get, and he got it, and the bookmaker stood to lose something, but on the football pool betting it is a case of "Heads I win, tails you lose," because you have got to-day a rake-off, and nobody can tell what it is.
696 I go so far as to say that if inquiries were instituted into the working of certain firms, I am not sure they could not be prosecuted for getting money under false pretences.
My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) quoted some leaflets. When I got home on Friday night, the first thing I picked up among my correspondence was a letter addressed to someone, not with my name, but with my address, enclosing a packet of coupons for football pool betting. My wife, who happens to be a little bit more innocent on these matters than I am, said "What are they?" And I had the pleasure of explaining to her until nearly 11 o'clock how exactly she could risk two pence if she wanted to do so. This matter has become a growing evil, and for the moment I am not so deeply concerned with the social side of the question, if the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) will understand me. I am satisfied that the people who indulge in football pool betting are not getting a square deal, but are being exploited unduly, and someone is getting the difference between what they pay out and what they bring in. My point is, that if football pool betting is legal, those who take part in it should have some guarantee that they are getting a square deal. I will conclude by saying that the Committee and the country have a right to know from the Home Secretary why the Government changed their mind on this point.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
Those who have listened to the whole of the Debate from the commencement must have been astounded at the reply of the Home Secretary. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) made certain specific charges against the people who run this football pool betting. There is no burking it. I do not know the pros and cons of this question, but I am sent here to listen to the Debates, and when charges are made I think the Committee is entitled to ask the Minister to make a reasoned reply to those charges. I would not for a moment charge the Minister with insincerity, but the excuse that the right hon. Gentleman gave, namely, that this Bill was dealing merely with course betting, I cannot accept as 697 being the reason for altering the Bill. Something did happen after the Bill was introduced into the other House. Why were those alterations made? That is what the Committee is entitled to know. It must have been obvious to the right hon. Gentleman that this reason could have been given before the Bill was introduced, and there must be some other reason why this alteration was made. We are not permitted by the Rules of the House, I understand, to quote in this Debate, what happened in the other House, and I beg the Minister to tell us the real reason for the alteration, as some of us are in a difficulty as to what kind of vote to cast on this question, and we cannot exercise that vote intelligently until we are in receipt of the information that this Committee is entitled to have. During the short time that I have been here, I have never heard such a weak reply on an Amendment as we heard from the Home Secretary just now, and I think the Committee is entitled to press definitely for some further and more reasoned reply to the Amendment so ably moved by the hon. Member for Don Valley.
§ 5.41 p.m.
Mr. GURNEY BRAITHWAITE
Like the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), I do not propose to discuss the social issues involved in this Amendment, but I think the discussion has been useful, because it has raised thus early on the Committee stage of this Bill a matter of very great importance to the people of the country as a whole. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) said something which I thought was very true when she said that all Governments require often to be whipped into shape by their supporters, and I think perhaps she would agree with the inverted argument that it is not always a good thing for Governments to whip their supporters where and when they will. A suggestion of the greatest value came from the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), who got up and said, "Will the Government avoid the odium of making this decision about football pools and leave it to the House of Commons to make the decision? We are the trustees of the people in these great social matters, so let us decide."
698 I think that argument applies to the whole of this Measure. When we were dealing with Clause 1 in Standing Committee B, the Home Secretary, on more than- one occasion when he was resisting Amendments by some of my hon. Friends and myself, pleaded with us that this was not a party Measure, that it was not a matter in which it could rightly be claimed that the party was being resisted or that party views were not being met, and I think that this is a good opportunity for the Government to start a system, which would be welcomed in the country, under which great social measures of this kind should be shaped by the House of Commons, with a free vote of the House. I think that that suggestion was one of the greatest value.
There is another matter which the country will desire to see cleared up. Why was it that the Government, who are going to take such a firm stand in dealing with such evils as are involved in betting and lotteries, ran away on the firing of the first shot on behalf of the football pool? There is no question of anything having happened in another place. The Noble Lord, in moving the Second Reading in another place, made that announcement, and I think it was added that it set an unusual precedent in politics for a Minister introducing a Bill on Second Reading to announce an Amendment almost as soon as he was on his feet. But the Government having done that, and surrendered at the first shot fired by the football pool, surely we are entitled to ask why other matters in which people are interested, such as greyhound racing, meet with firm resistance and the placing-on of the whips.
The Noble Lady opposite, in saying that the Government should deal with this evil of football pools, used an argument which I know she feels deeply, but I should like to make to her the suggestion that, whatever the Government may or may not do this evening, and whatever may be the fate of this Amendment, the cause which she has at heart can be advanced in another way. There are those who have the greatest influence with the newspapers of the day, and the Noble Lady is one of them. Let her use her well-known influence in such quarters to see to it that the results of such pools are no longer published in the popular Press.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I want to support the Amendment. I was a member of the famous Committee upstairs which settled Clause 1, and I congratulated the Home Secretary more than once on standing firm against some of the Amendments that were proposed. I should have thought that in order to be in harmony with his attitude upstairs he would have readily accepted this Amendment. I would say to the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Braithwaite) that the Labour party on this occasion are showing more intelligence than his party, for each Member is voting for himself on the merits of each Amendment. The Tory party is not intelligent enough to have reached that stage yet. We shall go into the Lobby according to our individual convictions on this Amendment.
I want to call the attention of the Committee to what the Royal Commission said on this problem. I have always had an impression very much like that of the hon. Member for Hillsborough. I am satisfied that the Government have been influenced by two forces not to deal with this problem. The first is the strength of the newspaper agitation against this proposal and the other is the Post Office, which I am sure have had a say. I gather that the Post Office secure a very largé revenue from people who operate these football pools. There is an office in a large town in Lancashire which employs 1,000 persons to deal with this form of betting. Consequently, the Post Office do well out of it. I am wondering where the Postmaster-General stands on an issue like this. The Home Secretary is a good Scottish Presbyterian and the Postmaster-General is a good Wesleyan, and I am wondering what has happened to their principles in dealing with a problem of this kind. Let me quote one of the passages condemning this pool business in the Report of the Royal Commission in paragraph 327:The provisions of the Act of 1920 have been evaded by subterfuges of various kinds, chiefly by the organisation of facilities in a manner intended to suggest that betting is being conducted on a credit basis.The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away from the proposition that we are putting forward by saying that this Bill is confined to a certain aspect of betting, because the Bill is simply implementing 700 some of the recommendations of the Commission and avoiding others. In another passage the Commission recommended that there should be no totes on dog tracks, but the first thing the Government did in the Bill was to admit the tote on dog tracks. I do not think the Home Secretary is quite as firm in relation to this problem as he was upstairs. He delivered an oration in Committee that would have done credit to the great Greek orators, and we cheered him to the echo. All his Scottish virtues came to the top as he stood up to the ranks of the Tory party.
On this issue, which is the most important issue upon which we shall divide in the Lobby to-night, he falls before the newspaper crowd. The Government are afraid of the newspapers, and I am sure the newspapers have frightened him. He is more frightened of them than he is of some Members of his own party, and that is saying a great deal. I should like him to tell us whether the Postmaster-General has had a conference with him on this issue, because I can imagine the Postmaster-General wanting to show a good balance-sheet at the end of the year. I could have quoted a greater condemnation still of pool betting, but I will confine myself to asking the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot accept the Amendment. It is one of the most important Amendments on the Paper. The Under-Secretary always tries to shield himself behind the Home Secretary, and often replies to debates by saying, "The Secretary of State has said so and so, and I agree with him." We ought to have his opinion on this Amendment, so that we can know whether there is a united front in the Home Office on the question.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) rightly said that the Government stated that the main objects of this Bill were to prevent social demoralisation and the exploitation of the individual for private gain. These being the two main objects of the Bill, will the Home Secretary kindly explain why the question of football pools was omitted and the question of a national lottery was excluded? There cannot be any question which is the more demoralising. As the hon. Member for Bodmin and the Noble Lady 701 the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) said, we are not very much concerned with protecting adults from their own foolishness, but with protecting juveniles from having their pennies taken for the profit of individuals. The whole House agrees with that. Yet the Government in their wisdom say that that is a matter with which they are not going to deal and that not in any circumstances shall adults be allowed to take a 10s. ticket at the Post Office, of which 5s. shall go in prizes and 5s. shall go to the State. No children would be concerned in that, and there would be no exploitation of the individual for private gain.
In the Committee upstairs, when the Government were saved from defeat time after time by the votes of the Socialist Opposition, those of us who took a different view were told again and again that this was not a party Measure and that, therefore, it was right that all parties should join in passing such Clauses as they agreed with. Yet we are now told that we are to have the Government Whips put on in order to force through each Clause of this Measure, whether we agree with it or not. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) said that if ever there were a Measure that should be left to the free vote of the House, this is such a Measure. Surely the question of football pools is one on which the House as a whole should vote as it desires. Tomorrow, if not to-night, there will be the question of lotteries, and that, too, is a matter which should be left to the free vote of the House.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I was giving that only as an example of the desirability of having a free vote for the reasons which the Home Secretary gave upstairs. I hope that somebody on behalf of the Government will explain why football pools were taken out of the Bill before it was even moved in the other House. Now we have all this hanky-panky and jugglery of bringing it down from upstairs, and I hope the Home Secretary will explain why football pools are not socially demoralising and why lotteries are.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. PIKE
I am going to ask the Government to reject the Amendment for the same reason that they deleted the Clause dealing with football pools from the original Bill. It is obvious to everybody, although everybody seems to be asking why it was done. It was not done because of political expediency, but because, had it remained in the Bill, no Government responsible for the Bill would ever have been able to secure a mandate from the people whose only remaining vestige of liberty to do what they like with their own money had been taken from them. Whether it be right or wrong that these pools should be allowed to exist, to reintroduce a Clause making them illegal would not only pour greater ridicule on the Bill than already exists, but would pour greater ridicule, if that be possible, on the forces that have compelled the Government to accept this as a national Measure. If the Government accept the Amendment and make football pool betting illegal, it will be one of the greatest acts of folly that any Government could commit.
Reference has been made to juvenile gambling. When I was a boy at school I was always gambling; so were all my schoolmates. When the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) went to school, he also gambled unless he was very different from any other human being. Undoubtedly he played "cherry gogs" and "buttons"; and undoubtedly, when he lost at tossing cigarette cards, he had to buy more with his weekly halfpenny if he wanted to compete with the other boys in the following week. Gambling is just as inherent in children to-day as it has been throughout the ages of the past. All this talk about the moral degradation of juveniles by football pool betting is nothing more than moonshine. I am convinced that if you attempt to destroy this remaining vestige of liberty which the working man enjoys by making it impossible for him to bet in this way, you will find yourselves confronted with a serious problem in connection with betting. We all know, if we speak the truth, that if the average working man is compelled by law to do a thing or is prevented by law from doing a thing, it is the greatest possible incentive for him to go against the law. One of the evils of betting to-day is the anomaly that exists as between the working man's 703 right and what is considered to be the right of other persons to put forward a rather bigger stake than the average man can afford.
The big profits of football coupon establishments have been mentioned. They must, of course, make big profits for they are dealing with millions of people every week. It has not been stated that one of the reasons why big profits are made is the natural tendency on the part of those people who have a bet on credit not to pay up when pay day comes. They actually put the policy of the Socialist party into practice whenever their football coupon goes down. I am told on the most responsible authority that every week some 30 or 35 or 40 per cent. of those who have a gamble on the credit football pool have it under conditions which mean that when pay day comes they are going to default.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Do I understand that the hon. Member being in touch with those who know this side of the business, says that 35 to 40 per cent. of those who invest in it fail to carry out their obligations? Could there be a stronger condemnation of any scheme?
§ Mr. PIKE
If a man, verbally or in writing consents honourably to fulfil a contract, surely the fact that he does not do so is not a sufficient ground for saying that the contract was a bad one to start with and should never have been entered into. The whole point is that there are hundreds and thousands of men throughout the country, going round every week as links in a chain in the football coupon business, who have a bet "on the nod." If it comes off it is all right and they pocket the spoils and will have another bet the following week. The hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), who referred to an envelope coming to his door which was not addressed to him, but to somebody else, which he opened and found to contain football coupons, must know two things: First, that he was breaking the law when be opened a letter which was not addressed to him, and, secondly—
§ Mr. T. SMITH
The hon. Member will not get away with that. The envelope was addressed to the occupier of the house. Further, if he knows anything at all about coupon betting he should know, when he says that more than 30 704 per cent. of the men who indulge in it are defaulters, that that is not true, and, secondly, he ought to know that if a man defaults one week he is not permitted to bet the next.
§ Mr. PIKE
He is not permitted to bet with the firm with whom he has defaulted, but that does not prevent him from betting with another firm. He gives them all a trial. It does not matter what legislation is introduced to stop it, because these practices only show the inherent gambling spirit of the average Britisher. By accepting this Amendment we should destroy the last remaining facility for credit betting among working men. After all, this pool betting does, to a very small extent, put the working man on a more respectable level as regards betting facilities. It gives him facilities for credit betting. At the moment, if he has a bet in the street, puts on 6d. each way, for example, he is acting illegally. Football pool betting does at least cloak him in the gentleman's garb; in other words, he has an honourable account with a bookmaker; and if it does not rain over the week-end and the wife does not ask for too much, he will settle on the following Thursday. I say to the Home Secretary that it was political expediency which compelled him to withdraw the Clause from the Bill, and that he should now he courageous and say that political expediency is going to prevent him from putting it back.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. J. JONES
Although I cannot pretend to be so highly developed morally as some of those who have taken part in this Debate, I am not a gambler, and do not know anything about the methods of those who go in for football pools, but I say quite frankly that I am prepared to support an Amendment which places a limitation upon the possibilities of rascality. I do not object to a man or a woman putting a shilling on a horse, or engaging in any other form of speculation, but if we allow unlimited possibilities for the exploitation of the people we are committing an offence not merely against morals but against the machinery of Government. Consequently I cannot understand why hon. Members opposite get into a state of excitement over the rights of the workers to have facilities for betting on credit. I say that, speaking generally, working men cannot 705 afford to bet on credit or under any other system. If the average working man is to maintain himself and those dependent upon him in decency, he has no time and no money for those who make a living by supporting and developing gambling.
People outside have sometimes made the charge that I am supporting this kind of thing. I am not. I have always stood for the right of the worker to have the opportunity to do, within reasonable limits, what other people do to an unreasonable extent, and a limitation is laid down in the case of the totalisator upon racecourses and dog tracks and in other ways, but in this particular case there is no limitation or regulation. It is simply a question of clever people organising these pools to take the fullest advantage they can of other people's stupidity and their own cupidity. I am not generally a supporter of some of those who have taken part in this Debate, though not from the same angle, but really we are all gamblers if it comes to a realisation of the facts. There are people who gamble in other ways, and they are regarded as quite respectable. In my own constituency we have one of the largest dog tracks in the country, and thousands of people go there three times a week. They are looked upon by some people as being hardly respectable. Then I take a trip to the West End of London and I find people going to boxing matches where they pay a guinea for a seat to see two men knock each other about, and put a couple of guineas on the one whom they think is going to win. Ono fellow is potentially a criminal, and the other fellow is fit to belong to the House of Commons.
In my view, gambling is not worth the trouble. It does not do any good to anybody except those who take advantage of other people. I support this Amendment, but I ask the Government to trust the House of Commons. If we were given a free choice we would give a real verdict and discriminate between the real and the false in this matter. I would rather have the Government say to us, "We will give you a free hand on matters of importance arising on this Bill." If that were done I think both the Government and the people would be saved. I am not very anxious about saving the Government, because the sooner they are dead the better pleased I shall be, but in the general interests of 706 the community this Amendment ought to be carried, and the Government ought to trust the House of Commons to a greater extent than it does.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHN WALLACE
I do not profess to know very much about gambling, but I have listened to all the speeches made since this Amendment was introduced, and the story which has been unfolded, especially by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), has been to me a most unpleasant revelation. I had not the slightest idea that football coupon newspaper betting was going on to this extent, and I am not only surprised but, as a staunch supporter of the National Government, I am a little uneasy and disturbed that this Amendment is not accepted. I was not on the Committee which considered this Bill, and do not know particulars of all that has happened, but I should say that if a free vote were taken to-day among those who have listened to this Debate there would not be the slightest doubt of the result. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has very strong instincts of fairness in his composition and is always prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in him, but this afternoon he gave a most abbreviated reason, which did not convey very much conviction to my mind. If the facts are as they have been stated this afternoon—and they have never been contradicted—the need for Government legislation is immediate and imperative. On that point I wish to ask my right hon. Friend two questions. The first is whether it is even now too late for him to reconsider his decision and consent to this Amendment, in some form, being included in the Bill. The second is whether, having regard to the statement he made earlier, he has legislation in view for an early date which will deal with this particular aspect of betting.
I am not speaking now to condemn betting from every point of view. I have some sympathy with those who occasionally like to take their amusement in this, particular form, but this pool betting of which we have been told this afternoon is a vicious form of betting, from which unprincipled people are taking a most unfair share of the profits. After all, the man who bets with a bookmaker gets a run for his money and, generally speaking though not always, knows where he is; 707 but if this unrestricted and unfair profit-taking by those who are running this particular system is allowed to go on, I shall be very much surprised if the country does not take a very different view of the attitude of the Government towards this Amendment from that which my right hon. Friend seems to expect.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I have never taken part in a football pool and am not able to identify with certainty any of my acquaintances who may have done so, and therefore I may say that I know nothing about it, but I was rather struck by the figures given by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), because he indicated that the Post Office was making some £5,500,000 a year and rather hinted that the attitude of the Government might be influenced by the fact that the country was getting so much out of this football pool system.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I did not say that the Government were being influenced by that. I have a better opinion of the Government. But that argument was put forward by the promoters, who submitted those figures to every Member of the House before the Second Reading, and thought we should be influenced by that consideration.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I thought it was the hon. Member who put forward that view, but it was somebody else in the Debate. Since that speech was made I have been to the Library to consult the Board of Trade Journal, which every month publishes the average daily takings of the Post Office in respect of postal business, leaving out of account money order business, savings bank business, telephones, etc.—just the postal traffic in letters, post cards and parcels. Going back to last year, when the situation was not being disturbed in any way by the prospect of this Bill, I find that in May, when the pools would have come to an end, business was £1,800 a day more than in April, when the pools would have been running. [Interruption.] I am only giving the figures, and if the hon. Member thinks he can prove anything different he is entitled to do so. I find that the postal receipts during June and July were round about the same figure as May, something just over £130,000 a day. In August, with the general cessation of 708 business activities, the figure dropped. In September it had got back to the same figure as May and June, and then in October, when the football pools really got busy, it jumped about £6,000 or £7,000. This year there was a jump of about £6,000. At the beginning of the season, apparently, postal traffic jumps up about £7,000 a day; at the end it does not seem to fall at all. That would indicate that there is great enthusiasm at the beginning of the season, as there is with the evening classes, at which boys sign on at the beginning of the session but do not stay the course. Therefore, one may say that £4,000 per day for about 200 days represents the real postal receipts and that would indicate some £800,000, and not £5,500,000.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I would like to quote from the actual paragraph in the document, which is addressed to the Prime Minister and a copy of which was sent to Members of the House. It is signed by the Football Pool Promoters' Association and is dated 13th April, 1934. The paragraph says:No less will be the effect upon the national revenue. We estimate that the return to the Postmaster-General is about 5d. per client per week, for there is the halfpenny stamp required for sending the coupon to the client, the three-halfpenny stamp when he returns it, the three-halfpenny stamp when the client posts his remittance plus the poundage upon postal orders and cheques. Therefore, each week for 37 weeks per year the Postmaster-General alone receives directly as a result of the football pool business "—and this is the figure that has to be corrected—£14,583 6s. 8d. or £5,500,000 per season. The whole of this revenue will be lost if football pools are abolished.That was sent to Members of the House, and shortly afterwards, just before the Debate, the Association issued a correction stating that the sum "£14,583" should have been £145,000. I am merely giving their statement.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not know anything about their statement, but I am trying to check their estimate of the money received by the Postmaster-General. It does not appear that he has received £5,500,000. My estimate excludes the poundage on postal orders, and therefore we probably ought to add to our £800,000 enough to bring it up to the round £1,000,000 instead of to £5,500,000. If the hon. Member for Bodmin thinks that the 709 Postmaster-General ought to have received the larger sum, perhaps he will assist me in the Library in tracing it.
§ Mr. MABANE
Is it the object of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) to discredit the propaganda of the Football Pool Promoters' Association? I am trying to follow his argument.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
That is not my object. I am trying to clear up the facts in regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Bodmin. People send literature to us, and most of it goes in the wastepaper baskets. That is why we have such big baskets. Sometimes when we read it we find mistakes, and if we find mistakes why should we not say so?
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Sir ALFRED BUTT
Consequent upon the findings of the Royal Commission, the Government, and principally the Home Secretary, have felt it their duty to introduce a Measure to deal with gambling. Every fair-minded person will agree that the Home Secretary has tried to deal with the elements of gambling which he thought were becoming social evils, but from the speech to which we have just listened he must have come to the conclusion that, rightly or wrongly, he has left out the most glaring social evil in connection with gambling. An hon. Member has said that it would be dangerous and politically bad for any Government to condemn football coupons, but no one has attempted to justify them, or to minimise them, as social evils which affect those who are least able to look after themselves. I urge the Home Secretary to follow the suggestion made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), and to remove from the Government the odium which must follow if they do not legislate to deal with football coupons. I appeal to him to allow the House a free vote. I am convinced if he did so that the vote on this question—[HON. MEMBERS: "On the Bill?"]—no, on this particular Amendment—would be an overwhelming majority in favour of the Amendment. Anxious as I am to support the Government at all times on this question, I feel most strongly and with 710 great reluctance that I cannot go into the Lobby in favour of the Government on this Amendment. I urge the Home Secretary to give us one reason which would satisfy us why we should reject the Amendment.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
The Home Secretary has a very difficult position before him. I feel strongly about the evil which we are suffering in Liverpool from the pernicious system which is in operation to-day, but dealing with one iniquity will not bring an equitable system into operation. My opposition is not only to one part of the Bill. I would like to see the. Government deal with this matter from a national point of view as it ought to be dealt with. I do not believe in gambling, but I do not understand how the Government can give preferential treatment, as they have in regard to the Amendment which is before the House. I want to hear hon. Members enunciate what they consider fair and straight action from Britishers in regard to the Bill. The Amendment is not a palliative in the interests of certain people. The puritanical spirit is represented in all parts of the House, but there is also the sporting instinct. Among my colleagues some take a very different point of view from me, but all are as anxious as I am to see the question of gambling properly dealt with. This hole-and-corner method is not the proper way to deal with it, nor is it an indication of the square way in which the question ought to be approached. We are told that the Whips are to be put on. When we ask for them to be taken off we are told that that will be preferential treatment. That is not the way to deal with the matter. If there is to be taxation and penalties, they should affect everybody in regard to gambling over the whole of the nation. The Bill is not a square Bill. I urge the Minister to allow full expression, of opinion on the Bill and to withdraw the Whips, so that the Bill may be representative of the House of Commons. Throw this Bill into the melting-pot. Take it out of the House, and come back with something that is sensible.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. DICKIE
In the plea put forward by the Football Pool Promoters Association the original figure of the return to the Post Office, as was stated by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), was 711 £14,583 per week. A mistake has occurred. I believe that the mistake in the cypher which ought to have been added to that figure is one of multiplica4n and that the figure of £14,583 is far more likely to be the correct one, calculating from £700,000, made up of 5d. per client per week. Both sums amount to something like £500,000 per annum. I attach no importance to the figures, except that I should like to see them accurately put before the House. It is perfectly evident that no such sum as £5,500,000 could accrue to the Post Office from this form of business, and I hope that the Committee will not be impressed.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I shall have much pleasure in supporting the Government on this Amendment even though the Whips are on. I am astounded at the amount of criticism which has been levelled at the humble football coupons, which are extremely popular in countless working class homes. The Association have time after time announced their willingness for anything in. the way of investigation by the Government to see that matters are fairly conducted. Most of the big pools have the advantage of chartered accountants looking into their accounts. I hope that the Home Secretary will stand out against this Amendment.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Captain ARTHUR HOPE
I wish to make a last appeal to the Home Secretary to allow a free vote of the Committee not only on this 2mendment but on the Bill. It is a non-party Bill which cuts right across parties, but Members of all parties have differing views in regard to football coupons, and if the Home Secretary would give us a free vote he would have much more chance to get his Bill through than by strenuously opposing every Amendment which is put down.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
May I just ask the Home Secretary, before we proceed to a Division, whether, in view of the general appeal that has been made from all parts of the Committee, he cannot give us a reason for the exclusion of football pools? No reasonable excuse for it has been given so far. Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell the Committee that he will reconsider the whole question of football pools between now and Report? If he would do that, he might allay a good deal of fear in the minds of hon. Members.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 68.713
|Division No. 381.]||AYES.||[6.30 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Butler, Richard Austen||Drewe, Cedric|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.|
|Albery, Irving James||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Apsley, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt.Hon.SirJ.A.(Birm.,W)||Eales, John Frederick|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Clarry, Reginald George||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cook, Thomas A.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Cooper, A. Duff||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Copeland, Ida||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Bonn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Birchail, Major Sir John Dearman||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cranborne, Viscount||Fleming, Edward Lascelles|
|Boulton, W. W.||Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Cross, R. H.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crossley, A. C.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davison, Sir William Henry||Goff, Sir Park|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Denman Hon. R. D.||Goldle, Noel B.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Denville, Alfred||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Buchan, John||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)|
|Burnett, John George||Dickie, John P.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Graves, Marjorie|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Savory, Samuel Servington|
|Greene, William P. C.||Meller, Sir Richard James||Scone, Lord|
|Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Milne, Charles||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Moreing, Adrian C.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Munro, Patrick||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||North, Edward T.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nunn, William||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Storey, Samuel|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Patrick, Colin M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Inskip. Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Peake, Osbert||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Pearson, William G.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Penny, Sir George||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Percy, Lord Eustace||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.(Pd'gt'n,S.)|
|Jones. Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Petherick, M.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bllston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Pike, Cecil F.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Power, Sir John Cecil||Train, John|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Pybus, Sir John||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Radford, E. A.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Levy, Thomas||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllffe-||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Locker- Lawson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.Gr'n)||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vera||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Ray, Sir William||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Remer, John R.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|MacAndrew. Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Rickards, George William||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Russell. Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Wood, Rt. Hon, Sir H. Kingsley|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Maitland, Adam||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Major George Davies and|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Commander Southby.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Banfield, John William||Holdsworth, Herbert||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Horobin, Ian M.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, Sir William||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Daggar, George||John, William||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Soper, Richard|
|Dobbie, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, William James|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lees-Jones, John||Wallace, John (Dunfermiline)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Lunn, William||West, F. R.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Mabane, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llaneily)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Magnay, Thomas||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks,W.Riding)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Milner, Major James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Mr. Isaac Foot and Mr. T. Smith.|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
The next Amendment that I 714 select is that in the name of the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. 715 Horobin)—in page 3, line 3, at the end, to insert:(c) on a licensed track being a dog racecourse where a charge for admission is made of not less than sixpence per person.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. HOROBIN
The effect of this Amendment, if carried, would be to prevent a small but definite evil which may increase as time goes on. So far as this Measure has any recognised or general principles behind it, one, which has been laid down over and over again, both by the Royal Commission and by my right hon. Friend, is that we should not allow profit to be made out of gambling instincts on the part of the citizen. It therefore seems to me to stand to reason that, if any company, not being a charitable undertaking, runs a track without charging for admission, it must be making its profits in some way, and it does not require any very great knowledge of the finances of these undertakings to realise that it is in fact making a profit out of betting. It will not be denied that some tracks already exist which make a nominal charge, and even, in some cases, no charge. Further, they actually have already started in many cases providing almost free—and, I think I am correct in saying, in some cases completely free—conveyance to the track. It is quite clear that the profits which it is possible to obtain from betting are so great that it will be worth in many cases going to extreme limits to encourage people to attend. I need not elaborate the matter further, but can save the Committee's time by leaving it there.
It should, surely, be impossible to justify running a track by making a profit out of betting, directly or indirectly. If no charge is made, or if a nominal charge is made, the profit must in effect be made out of betting. This Amendment would make it illegal to charge less than a certain sum. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will accept, either in this form or in any other form which he prefers, an Amendment which should ensure that only those tracks remain which at any rate purport to be making their profit out of charges for admission, and should make it impossible for tracks either to continue or grow up in the future when the very fact that they do not make a sufficient charge for admission 716 proves that, whether by open or underhand methods, they are making a profit out of gambling.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Would the hon. Member move the Amendment in this form:In page 3, line 3, at the end, to insert:'and where a charge for admission is made of not less than sixpence per person.'"It is a point of drafting.
§ Mr. HOROBIN
I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, at the end, to insert:and where a charge for admission is made of not less than sixpence per person.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend on moving the Amendment. It seems to me very undesirable for any form of entertainment to be run where the sole means of revenue is derived from betting. I take little or no part in betting myself, but it is obvious that great masses of people do, and will continue to do. If betting is going to be associated with any form of game, sport or amusement it seems to me very desirable that those who are promoting the amusement should obtain their revenue primarily from charges for admission, and not from incitement to betting. The Committee ought to be grateful to my hon. Friend for moving the Amendment, and I hope that the Home Secretary will give it his most favourable consideration.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Naturally this is one of the problems to which the Government have given very careful consideration. At present there is little or no restriction on the profits that may be made from betting on many of these courses. The Bill sets out to impose these restrictions, and the reasons why we have decided that we ought not to try to impose a minimum charge are these: First, I think it will be very undesirable for the Government to take any responsibility for laying down the way in which an industry of this kind should be conducted by imposing certain penalties. What we do is to lay down very distinctly that, when the Bill becomes law, operators of these courses shall be strictly limited to any profit that they can make from the totalisator, and if there is any profit to be made 717 other than this limited profit, it must be made from the charges which they, in their judgment, make on the clients who go to these entertainments. I think on reflection it will be seen that it is a matter that should be left to the discretion of the business itself and that the restriction on the possibility of profits from betting which the Bill imposes will really be an incentive to them to impose a charge which will be adequate and which the public may be able to pay. For these reasons, the Government have carefully considered the problem and have decided against the Amendment, and we cannot accept it.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I regret the right hon. Gentleman's decision. It was brought out on the Second Reading that, when the totalisator was in existence, some owners of greyhound tracks actually organised an omnibus service which scoured the neighbourhood for a mile or two around, brought people to the track and allowed them free admission knowing full well, of course, that the company would derive their revenue from bets. We also know that in certain cases people have been allowed to enter a track on payment of 4d. for a programme. They have also been allowed to enter the track with no payment at all, the owners of the track obviously knowing that their revenue would be forthcoming from bets. It may be said that, if a person has not the money to go to a track, he will not go, but it seems to me now that you are restoring the totalisator that you are re-establishing a vested interest in betting, and that is the reason why the right hon. Gentleman ought to limit entry by imposing a minimum charge. If a person feels disposed to pay 6d., he is interested either in the sport or in betting. At least let there be some sort of payment. To leave track owners with the power to do just as they like for the purpose of encouraging people to attend is, I think, a step in the wrong direction. I hope wherever betting is taking place the right hon. Gentleman will make a minimum charge for entry.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I hope the Home Secretary will consider this Amendment still further before Report. I quite understand that there are restrictions im- 718 posed, but I do not follow why this further restriction cannot be put on the owners of tracks. We start with this, that there is no sport as such upon the dog track. If it were simply a question of the sport, no one would go there. [Interruption.] I thought that was common ground. The evidence given before the Royal Commission led them very clearly to the conclusion that, if people were to go out from their homes simply to see dogs running after a hare and there was no betting, the places would be practically derelict and the grass would grow over these emporia of public entertainment. I did not know that that was disputed. If anyone would like to try the experiment of running a dog track on which there was no betting, he would be a man of greater faith than most Members of this House. The Commissioners themselves thought that without betting in some form or another the sport would attract no one and the enterprise would not be worth while.
§ Mr. DENVILLE
Is not the hon. Member aware that in the North miners and others who own whippets and greyhounds race them for the sport of racing?
§ Mr. FOOT
I am aware that there are parts where those sports exist, but generally I think no one will suggest that dog tracks could exist if there were not betting in some form or another. But we have so many serious points to discuss that it is not worth while to get angry with each other when we are on common ground. If that is the inducement, we ought not to make the door into dog tracks too easy. Certainly we ought not to make it too easy for young people. When a man has to pay an entrance fee, he thinks about it. If the door is open and there is no entrance fee, and in addition inducements are offered and every attempt is made to get people inside instead of remaining outside, it means that the evil against which the Bill is directed, an evil which was emphasised by the commissioners, will not be checked, and will probably be enlarged. I think the Amendment is upon the lines of the Government's intention and the desire of the commissioners, and I do not understand why it should not be accepted. We are not anxious to go too often into the Division Lobbies. A big principle was raised on the last occasion, but on smaller matters I have no desire to be 719 frequently dividing against the Government, though I hope that where an Amendment has behind it a very considerable argument which is not inconsistent with the purpose of the Government but supplements the Government's declared purpose, further consideration will be given to it between now and Report. That is my only reason for rising.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
The Home Secretary did not refuse the Amendment because he was opposed to the principle underlying it, but because this particular way of regulating meticulously the exact sum to be charged for admission was not the right way of dealing with the question. They were dealing with the question of preventing these dog racing tracks being simply supported by profits directly or indirectly derived from betting and their method of doing that was by regulating strictly, for the first time, the amount of revenue to be derived from the totalisator. It was made clear in another place when the 5 per cent. was settled as a maximum—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That matter will come up for discussion later. We can postpone consideration of it till the Amendment in question is reached.
§ Sir B. PETO
I was going to say that it is only a question of procedure to arrive at a common purpose, and I think there is a great deal to be said for the Home Secretary's argument that there are two ways of dealing with this. I have an Amendment to the Schedule which would directly prevent these tracks being run from profits derived from a percentage on the totalisator. Being a supporter of the Government, I have a stronger reason than the hon. Member opposite for not desiring to enter the Lobby in opposition more than I can help, and I shall support the Home Secretary on this occasion because I quite see that there are two ways of arriving at the same object, but I shall watch with great interest what he does with the Government's Amendment to increase the percentage and what he does with my Amendment, which will prevent them from getting any profits at all from this particular source of revenue. When we have settled that, we shall know how to deal with the matter on Report.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. McCORQUODALE
There is one point on which, I think, the Home Secretary is rather under a misapprehension. He said the only source of income from betting would be the regulated amount obtained from the totalisator and from bookmakers' profits. We have been informed that in the case of some of the unlicensed and unregulated tracks, owning their own dogs, the method by which the management recouped themselves for running the track was that the result of one race was "cooked" and the management backed the dog that was to win and made enough money in that way to carry on the business. I cannot see that the Bill will close the avenue to unlicensed, unregulated, unscrupulous traffic recouping itself in that way and so still being able to charge nothing for admission and yet being a financial success.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. MICHAEL BEAUMONT
The Amendment, if carried, would have quite a different effect from that which has been explained as its purpose—a purpose with which all sides of the Committee will feel a good deal of sympathy. The result would be to hand over to the proprietors of the track an extra 6d. for each person who attended. I cannot believe for a moment that a charge of 6d. will seriously diminish the number of people going to the track. If people want to go, and have enough money to bet with—and it is for betting that they attend—they are not going to be frightened away by a charge of 6d. The only advantage that I can see that these proprietors will derive from opening their tracks free is to allow them to compete with the owners of other tracks. Quite frankly, I do not believe it was the purpose of this Amendment or of this House to permit that. I cannot see what effect this Amendment will have. I am quite certain that any proposal on these lines, however desirable might be its purpose, would prove absolutely ineffective. In fact I believe it would result in an increase of profit for the proprietors of these greyhound tracks, which I am sure is the last thing which the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Horobin) and the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) wish to see. For that reason I believe the Govern- 721 ment have been well advised to reject this Amendment, and I hope if they do have to tighten up the restrictions any more on the Report stage, they will find some other and more effective way of doing it.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. PIKE
I hope that the Government will strongly resist this Amendment, because of the ridicule which will be cast upon them if they do not. This Bill is a Bill to check the evils of gambling and, irrespective of the appeal made by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), I do not want to be accused of doing something which will make them receivers of profit as a result of the evils arising from the new conditions imposed. That is exactly what it would mean. There is such a thing now in existence as an Entertainments Duty on the cheaper seats and the cheaper places at entertainments. The Government in accepting this Amendment would lay themselves open to very serious consequences. Personally, I think, too, that it would be an extremely bad precedent if any Government were to be allowed to say that any business should charge this or that as a definite price for whatever commodity it placed upon the market. It may be good Liberal economics, but when it comes to a question of destroying the morals of the youth of the country, I believe it would be very injurious. I believe it would be very injurious for the majority of them to attend a Liberal meeting or conference, irrespective of whether they got in for nothing or had to pay for admittance. I regard this as a bad Amendment, and I hope that the Government will reject it.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. WISE
It is not often that I find myself in disagreement with the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) and the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike), but I do suggest that the minimum charge is a certain safeguard, particularly when we consider the effort which I am sure the Government are trying to make to see that these big racecourses are not run solely as a form of gambling machine. Facts were given to the Committee upstairs and to the Royal Commission which showed that in many cases not only is admission to some 722 tracks free but transport to the track is provided for nothing. Surely if that is the case there must be a legitimate profit coming from the proceeds of betting on those tracks. Furthermore, if as the hon. Member for Aylesbury says this extra charge would be no deterrent to the number of people attending these dog races why was it found necessary to have free admission to secure attendances at all? The inference is that otherwise people would not attend in sufficient numbers If the Government sincerely wish to put any check on the running of badly conducted tracks this minimum charge is the best check which they could possibly introduce. I do not think that they should without very serious consideration turn down so reasonable a suggestion.
In spite of what the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) says, it is not betting alone that takes people to see dog racing. It is perfectly true, and it would be foolish to deny it, that if there were no betting there would be no dog tracks, but on the other hand it is true that if there were no betting no sort of racecourse would exist for very long. Certainly there are plenty of people who do not bet on horse racing, but the attendances would be so reduced if there were no betting that there would be no horse racing. Although the number of people who go to dog racing without betting is very much smaller than the number of people that go to horse racing without betting, there is a very definite element which goes to see dog racing purely as a spectacle. Certainly not enough to make it pay. But the fact that there are some does show that betting is not the sole consideration. If betting is not the sole consideration, then it is right and proper that the management of a track should be entitled to charge for the amusement: they purvey. They should be protected from the competition from those running tracks simply and solely as a machine for gambling. There is no other way to do this than to impose a minimum charge. I only regret that the minimum charge is so low: I should like to have seen it rather higher. Nor should I like to see the Government ignore entirely the point raised by the hon. Member for Attercliffe. This would provide a considerable source of revenue. Surely the Treasury have not entirely forgotten this. I am quite certain that if the Ministers in charge of the Bill would consult with 723 their colleagues they would find that the Treasury would probably be reluctant to forego this income, which may come in very useful one of these days. It would not be a very large sum. The total number of people who go dog racing is probably not more than 1,500,000, but that number of people at sixpence per attendance would represent a considerable sum in the course of a year, and this aspect should not be excluded from consideration.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. DENVILLE
If long experience in the entertainment world is of any consequence in the Committee, I would like to point out that whenever there is a free entertainment of any description given there is always a very large audience. I only say that in order to rid my friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) of any apprehension he may have. I am in opposition to the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
With regard to the Amendment standing in my name, in page 3, to leave out lines 4 to 8, I would like to ask, for the purpose of saving time, whether it would affect Clause 17 if this paragraph were left there? Would it change in any way Clause 17 whether these lines were left in the Bill or not? If dealing with the question of Tote Investors Limited requires these four lines to be dealt with, I would like to make my points now to avoid any repetition later on. If, however, the mere negotiating of bets does not affect the collection of bets, which are two different things, then I am not sure that I ought to waste the time of the Committee now. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give me a reply.
I think I can give the hon. Gentleman the answer. This proviso merely maintains what is the existing status. But Clause 17 also deals with the same point about Tote Investors, and if the hon. Member wishes to raise a question of Tote Investors here I think it would be quite in order for him to do so.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that it might be better to take the discussion on Totalisator Limited on Clause 17, and if the Committee decided 724 to leave out Clause 17, the Amendment would then follow as a consequential Amendment on the Report stage.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think it necessarily would. I said that if Clause 17 were deleted and that if in consequence these words were found to be redundant, they could be moved out in the Report stage.
This proviso deals only with what Tote Investors can do on the course. Clause 17 deals with a much larger issue.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
On your assurance, Captain Bourne, that we can deal effectively with the question on Clause 17, I will not move my Amendment now.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
I beg to move, in page 3, line 11, after the third "or," to insert "knowingly."
In certain circumstances an occupier may commit a contravention of the Act although not knowingly committing such a contravention, and the onus of proof, I think, should be laid on the prosecution and not on the defence. With that simple explanation, I beg formally to move the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
It may, I think, be argued that the word "permit" in itself contains a sufficient suggestion of positive action to make the Amendment unnecessary. However, we are prepared to accept the Amendment, which makes the intention perfectly clear.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.14 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 16, to leave out Subsection (4).
This is really a drafting Amendment to make quite clear what is intended. If the Sub-section were left in, it might be thought, wrongly, in some way to qualify the authority which the Bill proposes to give in Clause 10 for the establishment of totalisators on dog racecourses. That 725 is not the intention, and my right hon. Friend thinks it would be more convenient that there should not be any reference to any Act in this Clause. The point to be remembered is that this Clause actually prohibits all pari mutuel betting on a track except by the two totalisators. A bookmaker on the track cannot go into the pari mutuel betting. If we leave in the words, it might be thought that there was some proviso of that kind, so that I think the Committee would be well advised to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
I and several of my hon. Friends, believing that the intention of the Government had not been carried out, put down this Amendment, and I am desired by all my hon. Friends to thank the Government for accepting it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ 7.16 p.m.
Mr. G. BRAITHWAITE
Before the Committee parts with this Clause, it gives another opportunity which we should not be slow to seize, of obtaining from the Home Secretary or the Under-Secretary a more definite statement than was vouchsafed to us this afternoon when we were discussing the question of pool betting. The Committee will remember that certain hon. Members, notably the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), in very powerful speeches, put their case for some elucidation of the situation in which pool betting stands under this Bill. It would be improper for me to recapitulate that argument, but I think I should be in order in reminding the Committee that we have not yet heard from the Front Bench why, in this vital matter, the Bill was drastically altered before it was even introduced in another place. That Amendment having been defeated, it is important that the Committee should be told, now that the first Sub-section of the Clause stands as 'it does, reading that:No pari mutual or pool betting or business std] be carried on on any track",exactly what the Government mean by the words "pool betting." I confess that to me they do not define anything par- 726 ticularly definite, and it would be of great advantage, certainly to me and possibly to other hon. Members in the Committee at this moment, if, before parting with this Clause, we could have from the Front Bench a definition in no uncertain terms as to what the term "pool betting" is deemed to mean.