§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I beg to move, in page 19, line 14, after "lottery," to insert:after deducting the amount applied to the purchase of the prizes and,This is an entirely non-controversial matter and I hope that my right hon. Friend will see his way to accept the Amendment. It relates to the conditions to be observed in connection with the promotion and conduct of the lotteries which are under this Clause to be exempted. Sub-section (2, a) provides as one condition that the whole proceeds of the entertainment after deducting expenses excluding expenses incurred in connection with the lottery other than expenses incurred in printing tickets, are to be devoted for purposes other than private gain. I do not think that it can be the intention of the Government but there is a grave possibility that if the wording of this Sub-section remains as it stands in the Bill, money applied in the purchase of prizes for a lottery of this kind will not be allowed for in arriving at the proceeds under this condition. The purpose of the Amendment is to make it clear that the value of the prizes is to be deducted from the amount collected from the sale of the lottery tickets before the amount of the proceeds of the lottery is arrived at. Otherwise if the term "proceeds" were interpreted to mean the sum collected by the sale of the lottery tickets without the deduction of the money spent on prizes, it would really neutralise the value of this concession in the case of these small lotteries.
§ 7.47 p.m.
This Clause applies to the very smallest lotteries in which the prizes are not sums of money but articles. These are lotteries of the kind which take place usually at bazaars, sales of work, fetes, entertainments and the like. We did not wish to have enormously complicated regulations to 1123 deal with those lotteries and, therefore, we have merely put into this Clause words which are descriptive of the lotteries usually held in connection with bazaars, sales of work and so forth. A good many of us in our political life have experience of these entertainments and as far as I know the normal practice is to raffle some article which has been presented for that purpose. I do not think I have ever known the case in which the promoters of a bazaar have gone out and bought things to be raffled. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Well, I think the normal practice is to get some benevolent person to present a pincushion or something of that kind. There may be exceptions but I think the normal practice is to raffle gifts and we have merely described in this Clause what is the normal practice as far as our experience goes.
The hon. Member now raises the question of going out and buying an article and then making it a prize in a lottery, but he must recollect that the whole object of this Clause is to prevent the possibility of unscrupulous people, under the cloak of the small lottery or the private lottery, developing schemes for private gain. As we see it, as soon as we allow the prizes for a bazaar of this kind to be bought and the money deducted from the proceeds, we get into complications as to the value of the prizes and all that sort of thing. We also think that we would be affording a possible loophole to the unscrupulous persons to whom I have referred.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
Do I understand then that it would not be possible to take advantage of this Clause unless the prizes had been presented by some benevolent person? My hon. and gallant Friend has mentioned political functions and entertainments of this kind and many of us have had experience of them in our constituencies. No doubt he is more lucky in the Gainsborough Division than other hon. Members are in their divisions, but I think that it is a. general experience in connection with these matters that it is very often imperative that some small purchases should be made outside in order to provide these prizes. Does the hon. And gallant Gentleman therefore say that unless the 1124 prize has been presented advantage cannot be taken of this provision?
The only expense which can be deducted from the proceeds of the entertainment is the cost of the printing of the tickets.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. PIKE
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman attach importance to the wording of the Clause? It provides that a lottery promoted as an incident of an entertainment to which the Section applies is to be deemed not to be an unlawful lottery if certain specified conditions apply, and then in Sub-section (2, a) we find that one of the conditions is that the whole proceeds after deducting the expenses of the entertainment, excluding expenses incurred in connection with the lottery other than in the printing of the tickets, are to be devoted to purposes other than private gain. Surely, if the lottery is an incident of the entertainment, whatever prizes are offered for the lottery must be part of the initial cost of the entertainment. Whether one has to buy the prizes outside or is relying upon some kind of collection to secure them, there is no doubt that except where the prizes are actually gifts they constitute a part of the initial cost of the entertainment. I think it is only fair in those cirstances to insert in the Bill words to the effect that where the prizes are not gifts the cost should be deducted from the amount of the proceeds to be taken into consideration. This matter is more important than it appears on the surface. If these words are not inserted, in my opinion, Sub-section (2, a) runs contrary to the wording of Sub-section (1).
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Sir PHILIP DAWSON
Cases occur over and over again in which a body of people in some locality wish to raise money for some worthy purpose. Very often this is done by means of a raffle of a watch. The watch is set going and the person who guesses the second at which it will stop wins the prize. Hundreds of tickets may be sold for a raffle of that description, and the promoters have to deduct from the amount of the proceeds the actual cost of the watch because they have been unable to find anyone to present then with a watch for the purpose. Many of these raffles are of great benefit 1125 to various causes, and I would ask the Under-Secretary to consider eases of that kind.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
This appears to be another case in connection with this Bill, in which the Government have failed to declare specifically what they want to do. This is a serious question because it affects lotteries of this kind which take place in a great many parts of the country, and unless this matter is made clear a certain amount of irritation and annoyance will be caused. It is desirable that we should know exactly what the Government intend in this respect. Do they intend that these small lotteries are all to rely entirely upon gifts as prizes, or is it intended that where prizes are bought the cost should be deducted from the proceeds of the raffle for this purpose?
The Amendment proposes that the amount spent in the purchase of prizes should be deducted and that is what I have said I do not want to accept.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will see his way to accept the Amendment. I think he exhibited a certain want of knowledge as to what happens in the country and especially in the depressed areas in connection with these lotteries. Anyone acquainted with the depressed areas knows the difficulty which is experienced in raising money by these methods for various local purposes. They also know that in many instances the question of gifts does not arise at all, or only to a very small extent. There is much benevolent work done by churches of all creeds in the poorest parts of our great cities, and they are not dependent upon gifts of prizes, and without an Amendment of this kind the value of the concession offered in the Clause would certainly disappear in those cases.
I think the Home Secretary is anxious to be generous in those cases, and I would ask him to remember that in many poor parishes the people are at their wits end to know how to carry on with various useful works. Periodically bazaars are held. Sometimes in a suburb where there are resident gentry 1126 who make their livelihood in the heart of the city but sleep in the suburb, generous gifts may be forthcoming on occasions of that kind, but we do not get gentlemen of that fraternity in the depressed areas. What happens there is that a committee meets to decide ways and means. It usually decides that there shall be prizes, such as a canteen of cutlery or some electro plate, and as a rule the first inquiry made by the chairman is, "Where is the money to come from." The procedure usually is to print the tickets first setting out a list of the prizes and then to go to the shops and to select the prizes. The prizes are placed on exhibition in the hall or the school where the bazaar is to be held, and there is a debit account in the shop against the income derived from the tickets. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment is right in what he has said as to the deduction in this case. In many of these districts, what is called in my neighbourhood the "bunce," or the surplus or profit after the prizes have been paid for, is very small indeed, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman would only be doing justice and giving an opportunity for good and useful work in the depressed areas if he accepted the Amendment.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I cannot see why we should have a long Debate on a small issue of this kind. The Government having decided to allow the cost of printing the tickets to be deducted there is no question of principle involved in allowing the cost of the prizes to be deducted as well, and I think the hon. arid gallant Gentleman might well have given way on this Amendment. The only danger that I can see is that if this Amendment is accepted, it might be taken as an invitation to people to buy prizes instead of getting them from the charitably disposed. I see a weakness there but I have never been in contact with a bazaar or fete so considerable as to warrant all this fuss about haying prizes. The people associated with the Labour movement in my division are always willing to give towards a Labour bazaar, and I was rather astonished to learn by inference that the Tory party is aided by the doubtful means suggested by the hon. Member. Having said that, I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman might look 1127 into this matter once again. I do not see any principle involved in accepting the Amendment.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
Most of us, I think, know that very often charities, whether in the Labour movement or elsewhere, wish to raise money by bazaars, and sometimes they apply for prizes and are not lucky enough to get them given. In those cases prizes may have to be bought. But I see the Government's difficulty. They do not want to open the door for somebody, under the guise of a bazaar, running a large scale lottery. I think it might be possible, however, by some extra definition of the word "expenses" in the Sub-section, to find some means which will not only avoid all evasions of the law, but will also satisfy the Movers of the Amendment.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
I do not see the Government's difficulty in this matter, and I think the Committee will agree that the Under-Secretary of State has put forward an opinion which is not generally held in the Committee. I see the learned Attorney-General in his place, and as there appears to be some doubt as to what is meant by this language, I suggest that we are entitled to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman what is the opinion of the Government on this point.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel LLEWELLIN
It seems to me that if the Government do not accept the Amendment, the only form of body that they will penalise is the body that at the moment has not any funds. If you get, say, a branch of the British Legion with funds, quite clearly they will buy prizes out of those funds, and a small lottery will take place at the entertainment. They then do not have to charge the prizes for the lottery against the proceeds of that lottery, but they go into the general funds of the branch, which are not matters of private gain, and the whole of the proceeds go, although as a matter of fact the prizes will have been bought by the same fund. Therefore, it seems to me that by refusing this quite reasonable Amendment, you are only penalising those who have not any funds whatever to start with.
1128 My hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State seemed disinclined to accept the Amendment and said that we might encourage people to carry on wholesale lotteries under the guise of these small entertainments, but I think that if he will reconsider the matter, he will find that that cannot be so, because the whole of the rest of the proceeds cannot go for private gain, and any person who wants to start a wholesale lottery will not do so unless it is a matter of his own private gain. Therefore, I think the reason given by the Under-Secretary of State will not hold water, because people will not start these lotteries and run them in order to make money out of the public if they have to put the rest of the proceeds into something other than private gain. I hope the Government will reconsider their attitude before the Report stage and not penalise those small bodies which do not happen to have sufficient funds to buy prizes in advance.
§ 8.5 p.m.
I should like to support those hon. Members who have urged the acceptance of the Amendment. I will not adduce any further examples, as many have been given already; I will only appeal to the Under-Secretary of State to follow the example set this afternoon by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and to say that at any rate he will take the matter into consideration before the Report stage and consider whether he cannot meet us on this comparatively small point.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
I am afraid I take an opposite view to that expressed by most of the supporters of this Amendment. I have found, in running lotteries of any description, that we could always get all the prizes that we wanted, given. I sympathise with those who find difficulties in the distressed areas, but I feel that if we go in for any process of allowing deduction of the value of the prize money, we shall be letting in the unscrupulous promoter, and we shall be debasing the whole system of lotteries in this country.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
Why have the Government accepted the principle of giving permission for small lotteries? It is being done to help political organisations—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think the question put by the hon. Member arises on this Amendment. The question is whether the prize money shall or shall not be deducted from the proceeds of the lottery.
§ Sir LAMB
My object in trying to elicit that information was because I was going to prove that if the object was to assist charity, the very fact of leaving the Clause as it is would mean that those cases which are the most deserving would be absolutely cut out. If, however, I may not ask a question, perhaps I may make a statement. If the fact be that you are trying to help bazaars and political organisations, they are held as a rule by people in the particularly happy position of being able to give the prizes, but if, on the other hand, you are going to give facilities to help those who most need help, namely, ex-service seen or others who may be down and out, and you deprive those who are organising these affairs of the possibility of buying the prizes, which they may sell by means of a lottery, you will deprive these people of the opportunity of receiving the help which they most need.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Colonel GOODMAN
May I say a few words in support of the Amendment? I do not intend to speak of political organisations, but I wish to say a word or two about church bazaars, of which I have quite an experience, and I would like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) on being able to get all the prizes given to him in his constituency. In many churches, however, in the poorer districts there is not a sufficient quantity of goods brought along to fill up a stall, and it has been the custom for the curate in charge or the vicar to spend some of the money which has been subscribed for the bazaar or the sale of work in the purchase of groceries and small articles to sell again. It has been my experience almost invariably that at the end of the bazaar there is a residue. Some groceries are left over, some woollen goods, some stock of some kind, and the only way in which these goods can be disposed of is by a raffle at the end of the bazaar. If they are not able to deduct the cost of these goods which they raffle, the goods are left on their hands, and what might have been a profit on the 1130 sale of some of the goods purchased will be turned into a loss, because they are unable to dispose of the balance.
§ 8.9 p.m.
The object of the Committee stage of a Bill is to enable the Committee to state its views and the Government to consider what is said, and I do not think it is necessary for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary every time to say that he will consider the question. The whole object of the Debate is to consider the wording of the Bill in the light of what is said in different parts of the House. With regard to this particular Amendment I give my hon. Friends the assurance that, of course, I will consider it, but this Amendment would be quite unworkable. When you say, "after deducting the amount of the value of the prizes," who is to decide the value?
The matter is rather more complicated than if it were limited to these little bazaars. Somebody will have to prove how much is actually spent. We are trying to close a loophole, not against the reasonable people who run these little affairs, but against the unscrupulous men who, we know from experience, try to drive a coach and four through any provisions that we may make. It would be possible, if we inserted this sort of provision, for an absolutely fictitious value to be put in the accounts of a bazaar by the promoter of it. He might purchase something and put in the accounts that it cost him £20 to buy, when actually it cost 4½d., and while he would not get the net proceeds for private gain, he would get the difference between what he paid for the article and what is shown in the accounts. Those are some of the difficulties with which we are faced if we allow an extension of the words in the Bill. On the next Clause, where larger lotteries are dealt with, we deal with the problem of the purchase of prizes in those lotteries in a different manner, but I am not yet convinced by anything that I have heard this evening that it will be possible to stop the loophole that we want to stop in this Clause in the way proposed by the Amendment. 1131 Of course, however, we will consider it. That is the whole object of the Committee stage of a Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel LLEWELLIN
Could not a man equally send in a fictitious account of what he paid for the printing of the tickets?
He could, but I do not think the unscrupulous promoter would be able to make very much out of that.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Sir EDWARD GRIGG
I am obliged for the assurance given by my hon. and gallant Friend that he will consider this Amendment, but I support the arguments used by those who have spoken in its favour, and it cannot, I think, be beyond the resources and the ingenuity of all the hon. and gallant Gentleman's advisers to devise something that will prevent this Clause from penalising the poorest of those who get up these lotteries and, at the same time, keep out the unscrupulous promoter. At many fetes and things of that kind, lotteries would not take place unless it were possible to apply some part of the proceeds to the purchase of prizes. I sympathise with the Government's desire to keep out the unscrupulous promoter, but to do that at the expense of penalising those who most require these lotteries in order to carry on, does not seem to be a fair course to pursue.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. EMMOTT
I should like to associate myself with the Amendment. The Minister, when he first addressed the Committee upon it, rested his argument upon a certain assumption. What was that assumption? It was that generally, if not universally, the prizes in these lotteries are gifts and not purchases. But I think that on reflection he will agree that that assumption is not justified and that that practice does not by any means universally or even generally obtain. On the contrary, it is very frequently the case that these prizes are purchased. When for the second time the Under-Secretary addressed the Committee, he took a different ground. He then answered my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) upon the assumption that the wording of the Amendment was, "after 1132 deducting the value of the prizes," and he suggested that it would be impossible to arrive at a true estimate of this value. The wording of the Amendment, however, is, "after deducting the amount applied to the purchase of the prizes."
I am sorry if I made that mistake. I was looking at the Order Paper for yesterday, but the argument is the same.
§ Mr. EMMOTT
I appreciate the position. But the Under-Secretary then suggested that a fictitious value might be placed upon the prizes. Why should such a suggestion be made? Why should it be suggested that a fictitious account might be rendered? Surely there is no ground for any such suggestion. I respectfully submit to him that on both occasions when he addressed the Committee the assumptions on which he rested his argument were unsound.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
May I ask a question of the Minister as to how we stand? The Under-Secretary promised to reconsider the question before the Report stage. Will an opportunity be given to consider it on the Report stage, or will the Government only put an Amendment down if they are convinced that there is a case for it? We want to see this Amendment or a similar Amendment to carry out the purpose of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), but shall we lose the opportunity of debating the matter unless the Government put an Amendment down on Report?
All I said was that the object of the Committee stage was to enable Members to place their views before the Committee so that the Government can consider them. There was no definite undertaking that I was going to put down a Government Amendment.
§ Colonel GRETTON
In the absence of a Government Amendment, what opportunities will there be to raise this matter again on the Report stage? It often occurs that a matter disposed of in Committee is not raised again unless the Government themselves take action.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
As I understand the position, what usually happens is that if the Government are impressed to some 1133 extent that the arguments of hon. Members have something in them, and if a promise be made that the matter will be considered before the Report stage, it is generally assumed that those ideas will be embodied in a new Amendment on the Report stage if the Government think fit. Does the present promise carry that procedure with it?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows what I mean. We will consider what has been said, but whether we think an Amendment is necessary and desirable, and whether we are convinced with the arguments will be another question.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I think we should have all been satisfied with what the Under-Secretary said but for the manner in which he said it and but for what he said just now. As a rule, when a Minister says, "I have listened to all that has been said and I am impressed by the fact that perhaps there is a case, but at the moment I do not think I can accept the proposal," we take it for granted that he has seen the point and is going to make an endeavour to meet it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has not talked to us as if that was in his mind. He has conveyed the impression that his mind is closed on the subject. If it were proposed to wipe out all these lotteries, I should vote for it, but, if we are to have them at all, we ought to have this Amendment or something embodying the principle of it. My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) assured me just now that in his division they are all wealthy enough to do without this sort of aid. Where I come from we have not rich people to make cakes and articles to fill up a bazaar, so the goods are brought in, and there is a percentage on their sales. Often parcels of grocery that have been put in the bazaar on sale or return are made up and raffled in the ordinary way. Then the organisers have to pay for those goods. Surely that ought to be taken into account. Printing is taken into account. Those who are opposing us are anxious to prevent swindling. We all are, and I do not think we shall get rid of it until we get rid of any form of gambling. While, however, the Government leave lotteries to be carried out at church, Labour and other functions, they 1134 ought in equity to accept the Amendment. I should like the Home Secretary to get up and say frankly that the principle is good, but that the words probably are not the right words, and that he will endeavour to meet hon. Members on Report. That will safeguard us, because none of us has any right to approach the Speaker on Amendments; but custom shows that when a promise of that kind has been given, consideration is given to it if the Government do not put down an Amendment and other people do.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I have not heard the Debate on this Amendment, but I understand from the Under-Secretary that he has said that we shall be prepared to look at this problem in the light of what has been said. I can only say that we will do so honestly, and that, if we think it is right to meet the point that has been made, undoubtedly we shall put down an Amendment to meet it. I am not committing myself, but I can assure the Committee that we shall look into the Amendment carefully in the light of what has been said.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
In view of what has been said by the Home Secretary, in contradistinction to what has been said by the Under-Secretary, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:
In page 19, line 15, after "tickets," insert:
and cost of prizes of not more value than one pound in each entertainment.
In line 16, at the end, insert:
except at an amusement park, gala, fair, and places where mechanical amusement, riding chariots, and other carriers may be in operation, except also in places when circular and straight games, both mechanical and semi-mechanical, are in use, and where a competition exists the success in which depends upon the exercise of skill in the operation of such circular and straight games."—[Mr. Knight.]
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
On a point of Order. I understand that the Amendments standing in the name of myself and my hon. Friends are out of order, but would you allow me to make an appeal to the Home Secretary respecting them? These Amendments were intended to raise a grievance felt by travelling showmen.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Member is quite correct in the point of Order he has raised. The Amendments to which he refers, although they are governed by the old Betting Act, deal with what is technically known as "gaming." If the hon. and learned Member will look at the long title to the Bill he will notice that the Bill relates to betting in only a very limited aspect, namely betting on certain tracks and with totalisators. It also deals with lotteries, but it is not a Measure to amend the law relating to betting generally, and therefore I must hold that anything dealing with gaming is out of order. With regard to the second point, I would suggest to the hon. and learned Member that he should make his representations personally to the Home Secretary.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
I beg to move, in page 19, line 17, to leave out paragraph (b), and to insert:(b) money prizes in the lottery shall not in the aggregate exceed twenty pounds.So much has been said during these last three days on the evils of filthy lucre derived from gambling that I almost hesitate to move an Amendment containing the word "money." The Committee have just been discussing how the prizes are to be obtained, whether by gift or by purchase, and in this Amendment we deal with prizes which can be given in certain circumstances. The Under-Secretary displayed remarkable innocence a few moments ago when dealing with the bazaars and fêtes which will be permitted under this part of the Bill. If he had been sitting on the back benches as the hon. Member for Gainsborough instead of in his present position as Under-Secretary to the Home Office I feel that he would have displayed considerably more knowledge of them. The entertainments dealt with here are bazaars, sales of work, and other entertainments of a similar character. I know a constituency in which the Conservative party have a great fete on a bank holiday each year, and advertise some Tory Member of Parliament as a speaker, and then put alongside it the announcement "And other entertainments." I was never able to understand whether the various Members of Parliament who attend were brought down for the purpose of entertainment or instruc- 1136 tion. At some bazaars or fêtes people buy a ticket for a penny or sixpence and prizes are offered to the holders of certain tickets, and that is to be permissible under this Bill to a limited extent and, incidentally, for the purpose of the undertaking.
Anyone who has had experience of bazaars or fêtes or sales of work will know the variety of prizes offered. A bearded collier who buys a three penny ticket finds that he has become the winner of a box of face cream which somebody in the locality has been kind enough to present; a bottle of "Johnnie Walker" is probably won by some teetotaller, who is perplexed to know what to do with it; somebody wins a live pig who has got no pigsty, because he lives in a council house; or a ton of coal won by somebody who has no need of it because he happens to be in lodgings. There are a hundred and one such humorous incidents in connection with these bazaars. I do not see anything seriously wrong or sinful in winning a £5 note at either a sale of work or bazaar. I do not see that there is any fine distinction between winning money or money's worth. This is the kind of thing that may very likely happen. A man who wins an electric stove has a house in which only gas is laid on, and the stove is no use to him. Therefore, he goes to the man who presented the stove and says: "This is no use to me, although I have won it, what will you give me for it?" And if it is worth £1 the shopkeeper will say, probably, "I gave the stove with all good grace, and I do not mind buying it back from you for 15s." Neither I nor my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) is wedded to the sum of £20 mentioned in the Amendment, but we would like to see some limited sum, £20, £15, or £10 permitted as a money prize in entertainments of this character. Hon. Members know that on occasions they give to certain entertainments in their constituency. Some may give a cheque, others may give a pound note, and I do not see any harm in our allowing money prizes of a limited amount. I hope the Home Secretary will be able to meet us in this matter.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am afraid that I cannot accede to the request which has been made to me. If once we legalised money prizes at events of this kind it 1137 would be holding out an invitation to the lottery promoters to come and join in. I am not aware of all the circumstances surrounding bazaars, but I have been to many bazaars, no doubt thinking that I was, perhaps, giving instruction, though it may have been entertainment; but in any case I feel it would be most undesirable to legalise money prizes at these small affairs. We know that certain things are offered as prizes which the ordinary man cannot, perhaps, afford to buy but which he may win there in a raffle. That is the kind of thing I have had in mind and which I want to see made legal, under certain conditions; but when it comes to money prizes I must resist.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I quite appreciate the desire of the right hon. Gentleman not to extend the opportunities of winning a large sum of money as a prize in a lottery, but the prizes of £30,000 in the Irish Sweepstake are a totally different proposition from the prizes of £5 £10 or £15 suggested here; and the right hon. Gentleman should also remember that the class of entertainment is strictly limited, by the terms of the Clause. Such draws as are referred to are those held at bazaars, sales of work, fetes and other similar entertainments, and they may continue for only one to four days. As my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) has said, thousands of people who are supporters of a cause for which a sale of work or fete is arranged will gladly purchase a ticket for the sake of the cause, and are not at all concerned about any money prizes that may be offered. The case put by my hon. Friend is that in which the wife of a collier, a railwayman or any artisan, purchases tickets for an event but not primarily for the prize which they are likely to obtain. The Clause definitely states that the draw is not to be a primary part of the entertainment but only incidental. It will be far better, in the sort of case I have in mind, that instead of articles which would have no utility to persons who succeeded in the draw, there should be money prizes, such money being limited by the terms of the Clause. Prize winners could then spend their money to better use. We are not putting a lot of pressure behind the Amendment, but we think that as the figure is strictly 1138 limited, and may be halved or divided into three prizes, the sum concerned would be infinitesimal, and one which the right hon. Gentleman might agree to without conceding the principle of national lotteries or Irish sweepstakes.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
I think the Home Secretary is a little rigid in some of these matters, and particularly in this one. I cannot see that there is any grave moral temptation in being allowed to gain a money prize instead of a sucking pig. The ordinary man in the street cannot see what difference there is between a prize in kind and a price of 15s. or £1 in cash. The Home Secretary based his opposition to the Amendment largely, I understand, upon the allegation that it might be possible for professional lottery promoters to creep in if the Amendment were accepted. I do not think there is any danger of that. The amount is limited in the Amendment to £20, and the promoters and supporters of it have stated that they are not wedded to that figure and are willing to make it £10 or £5. I appeal to the Home Secretary to see whether he cannot possibly accept it in this small case. This is the reason for the attitude of the ordinary man in the street, not only towards this little provision of the Bill, but to a great many other parts of it as well.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 8.39 p.m.
Mr. G. BRAITHWAITE
I beg to move, in page 19, line 19, to leave out paragraph (c).
This Amendment raises a point very similar to that which has just been placed before the Committee on the previous Amendment by hon. Gentlemen of the Opposition. We have reached a very interesting stage of the Bill; the Committee is engaged in making the church bazaar respectable. What is improper across the counter of the Post Office is to be a perfectly proper and moral proceeding in the church bazaar. How the country will receive this latest effort on on the part of the Home Secretary remains to be seen. It is at least our duty to make this Clause workable, and my Amendment relates to the conditions touching the small lotteries exempted by the Bill. It will be found that paragraph (c) provides that tickets shall not be sold except on the premises where the 1139 entertainment—for example, a sale of work—is held. It is rather like saying that intoxicating liquor has to be consumed on the premises. Similarly—and this is one of the chief points of the Clause—the result may not be declared except on the premises and during the entertainment. That describes the attitude of the Government to these small lotteries. We have spent a great deal of time this afternoon preventing the results of large enterprises such as the Irish sweepstake being available to the general public, but we are now about to say that at the church bazaar, all that Parliament desires is that the tickets shall be bought on the premises, and that the competition shall be conducted, and the swag distributed to the faithful sometime before the final benediction.
Why should the raffle, the draw, the bazaar or the sale of work be restricted in this way? Those interesting functions are not entirely confined to Conservative garden fêtes. An hon. Gentleman opposite gave some interesting examples of the prizes that might be won, such as a shaving stick by a man with a long beard. Such things take place at all times in entertainments of this kind, and it is the practice at such functions, as I think hon. Gentlemen with experience will agree, to have the tickets printed and distributed and sold beforehand by the organisers of the bazaar, or whatever it may be. I see no reason why that should be prohibited by the Bill. To do so would act as a great handicap upon those who are trying to raise funds for some worthy cause, whether it be to advance the cause of Conservatism or Socialism, or to repair the organ. [Interruption.] It very badly needs repair on the Opposition Benches. A great deal depends upon the tickets being available before the entertainment commences.
I can see no reason why the result should have to be declared before the entertainment comes to an end. The Home Secretary cannot really feel that people who gather on these excellent occasions to support their churches or chapels become, at the moment when the final benediction is pronounced, the doors are open and they go out into the night to mix with their fellow men, exposed to all kinds of moral dangers and 1140 vices. It is not necessary that the result shall be declared before the entertainment actually comes to an end. The Home Secretary has decided that this kind of innocent competition and lottery shall be legalised and no longer restricted by the law of the land. Why must these restrictions be placed upon them? My hon. Friends and myself are very anxious to find out what is in the mind of the Government.
It is a problem which my hon. Friends and myself have for many weary weeks been making an effort to solve, and we have not been altogether unsuccessful. One of the excellent maxims of those who attend these church bazaars is, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again." That is what we are doing now, but it is a little hard that those who go to church functions and have before them these excellent maxims are somehow unsafe unless they are within the four walls. The space on the Opposition Benches which represents the Liberal party will excuse me if I am wrong fn believing that a good many of their supporters might resent very strongly the suggestion that these entertainments can only be legalised within such narrow confines.
The limitations will handicap many very excellent efforts which are made in Sheffield on behalf of causes which we all support, irrespective of our political colour. It will greatly handicap them if tickets cannot be printed and distributed before the function takes place. I do not think it is necessary that the result should be declared on the spot. I think it might well be published in the local newspapers, as is generally the case. I hope that local newspapers are not going to be prohibited from publishing the results of church bazaars as well as of the Irish Sweepstake, or we may see Lord Rothermere's Paris edition of the "Daily Mail" publishing the result of a bazaar in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike). However that may be, this Amendment, if it does nothing more, will give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of explaining what is in his mind in connection with what I can only regard as a rather extraordinary Clause in the Bill.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
My hon. Friend has moved this Amendment in a spirit rather, shall I say, of levity, as a dinnertime entertainment, but I feel that it is really one of the most important Amendments to Part II of the Bill. I myself have three Amendments down just after this one, which are all supported by the British Hospitals Association. They do not go quite so far as this Amendment, but are only concerned with the question of the sale of tickets before the day, and it is to that point that I would ask the Committee to devote their attention. It is impossible for any hospital to carry on any fete unless it is able to sell tickets before the day, and in this Clause fetes are specifically named as a form of entertainment in connection with which lotteries may be permitted. Perhaps I might give an illustration of what I mean.
For some time before I came to the House, I was concerned with the running of a very big public fete for the benefit of our local hospital. To make it a success it was necessary to attract from 15,000 to 20,000 people. In order to attract that number of people. we had to put on a good display—something that would get the people there—and we went "all out" to attract people. For instance, we used to get the musical rides from Olympia; and the long and short of it was that we spent £500 or £600 before the day of the fete. We went on to the ground with those expenses. If it was a, wet day, we were "done down," and the hospital was out of pocket to the extent of the £500 or £600 that we had spent before the day. We could, of course, have gone in for wet-weather insurance, and we tried that, but it did not work; it rained all round the particular ground where we held the fete, but we did not get enough on the ground to get the insurance. The only way in which we could make sure that the hospital would not be out of pocket was to sell enough tickets before the day to counterbalance our expenses. That we used to succeed in doing by having draws or lotteries and selling tickets before the day. Then, alas, about three years ago, the police authorities came down on us and stopped us selling those tickets. The result was that the hospital fete came to an end; we could not possibly afford to allow the hospital to run the risk of spending £500 1142 or £600 and losing everything if there was a wet day.
I admit frankly that my own hospital, of which I am speaking, is financially sound, and that is rather an argument against me, but, on the other hand, it is the object of every hospital to give better treatment, and there is no end to the amount of better treatment that any hospital can give; but it cannot be given if there is less money with which to give it. As a result of the police stopping our selling tickets before the day, and the consequent abandonment of the hospital fete, our hospital lost something between £1,500 and £2,000 a year. If this Clause becomes the law of the land, it will be impossible to revive that hospital fete, and our own hospital will find itself—and this applies to many hospitals throughout the country—with a debt of at least £1,000, and probably nearly £2,000. Therefore, I would ask the Home Secretary to consider very carefully whether he is not doing a grave injustice to our hospitals by not giving them a chance at any rate to sell tickets before the day, and to hold the usual harmless hospital fete which has gone on in most counties near most towns for many years.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Before wasting time on this particular Amendment, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, assuming that the present Amendment is lost, that will affect in any way the proposed new Clause—(Exemption of small lotteries organised for the benefit of charitable objects)—which we have later on the Paper. I should like to make one or two observations on that Clause, all more or less relative to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers), but I have no desire to make those observations now if, when moving or supporting the proposed new Clause, we can feel that the passage of Clause 22 in its present form will not debar the acceptance of our Clause.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps I might intervene for a moment. I can, of course, give no opinion as to the acceptance of the Clause which the hon. Member has mentioned, but it was my intention to call it.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am much obliged, Captain Bourne, for that information. 1143 Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will now tell us, when he either accepts or rejects the Amendment, whether its rejection or acceptance will have any relation to the forthcoming proposed new Clause.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I think that perhaps I can best answer that question by saying what I have to say on this proposal. The fact is that in all this problem we are faced with the difficulty that we are legalising certain practices which are at present illegal. That obviously has some attractions and advantages, and we have tried, in dealing with this problem, to permit the carrying on of raffles and small lotteries, whether in aid of charities or bazaars, for whatever purpose the bazaar may be promoted. But of course at the back of it all there is the over-riding feature that the Committee has decided that it is not going to have large lotteries, and it is therefore essential to exercise the greatest care against allowing anything which will turn these small modest lotteries into something very much larger.
Something has been said about the necessity for selling tickets before the entertainment. That is a practice which some of us are acquainted with, and it has not been interfered with. The whole point is how far you are going to allow these matters to be exploited by people who really are not concerned with the genuine object. Nothing, as far as I know, will interfere with permission to people living in a hospital or connected with it, or those under Clause 22, a club or an organisation, to promote a private lottery. There is nothing, if the conditions in Clause 22 are complied with, to prevent that taking place at a bazaar. The great mass of raffles, which are well known to people who attend bazaars, are genuine. The objects that are sold are so large that they cannot be bought by an individual and, therefore, they are raffled. They ought to be raffled and dealt with at the bazaar, whether it is a one or a three-day bazaar. The practice has been to draw the raffle before the bazaar is closed. But while I am most anxious to see that these small lotteries and bazaar raffles shall not be interfered with as long as they remain upon that basis, we cannot ignore the fact that there are unscrupulous people who are 1144 prepared to exploit these concerns, whether church bazaars or ordinary raffles. It is because of that that I have to take these measures. I have tried to explain what I think can be done, and I am afraid that I cannot go further.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
In view of the Home Secretary's statement, I think I may have to reconsider my decision about selecting the new Clause in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers). I am in a little difficulty in the matter. I was under the impression that the decision of the Committee last night was against State lotteries. If that impression be correct, obviously a lottery on a much restricted scale would not necessarily be involved in that decision and the new Clause would be in order. If, however, we are going to treat the discussion on this Amendment on the assumption that the Committee has decided against everything except comparatively small lotteries, obviously, if the discussion takes place on this part of the Bill, the new Clause cannot be moved.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The new Clause is of a very special character. There are special conditions laid down which confine the suggested small lottery to the neighbourhood, and I think the conditions laid down are such that it can be divorced either from the very large lottery referred to in the decision Last night or the very small bazaar lotteries dealt with in Clause 22. My submission, therefore, is that, while the right hon. Gentleman may make his mind up on the Amendment now—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps I may deal with the hon. Member's point now. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that the objection to leaving out paragraph (c) is that it might enable a thing to become a lottery on what I may call a large scale. If that be the ground on which this Amendment is debated, obviously we cannot admit a new Clause which would in point of fact legalise a lottery on a larger scale in which tickets were sold beforehand. I have to protect the position of the Chair. I have been in very considerable difficulty over the matter. I have no desire to restrain Debate, but I am obviously in 1145 a difficulty from the point of view of order. Whether it might be more convenient to take the discussion on this Amendment or on the new Clause I am in the hands of the Committee, but we cannot have the discussion twice.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
That is exactly why I did not wish to occupy time by speaking now and speaking again on the new Clause. I should prefer to leave the discussion on the new Clause until the new Clause arrives and allow the Home Secretary to deal with Clause 21, which only deals with bazaars and fetes and other small entertainments, while the new Clause applies to a totally different proposition. If the Home Secretary is going to leave the specialised suggestion in the new Clause until it is reached, perhaps there is no point in discussing it further now.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the Committee would prefer to take the discussion on the new Clause, I suggest that we dispose of this Amendment at once, and I will call the new Clause. It is obvious that, if we continue this discussion, we shall be restricted on the new Clause simply on the ground of repetition.
Mr. G. BRAITHWAITE
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I asked leave to withdraw the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has made it clear that the Government are not going to accept it, and we might have a more useful discussion on the new Clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Sir P. DAWSON
I beg to move, in page 19, line 31, at the end, to add:(4) Any lottery promoted and held at a fair attended by travelling showmen at which the prize (other than a money prize) does not exceed five shillings in value shall also be deemed not to be an unlawful lottery.For hundreds of years showmen have given innocent amusement to our people, and are still doing so, and how much they are appreciated is shown by the enormous crowds that attend fairs. They always have to keep up to date and they do everything they can to amuse the public and to introduce new forms of amusement. They have raffles of various kinds and numbered programmes and things of that sort, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give favourable 1146 consideration to this body of men who are most loyal citizens and very helpful to our people, both in the industrial regions and rural areas, where they thoroughly enjoy the innocent entertainment which these travelling showmen provide for them. The Amendment has been put down with a view to helping them to carry on their work. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will favourably consider the matter and be able to do something towards helping those people who are trying so hard to help themselves and to provide entertainment sometimes under most difficult conditions.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Major PROCTER
I hope that the Home Secretary will consider the Amendment favourably. At the moment travelling showmen are harassed in practically every town. What is proper in one place is deemed to be improper and illegal in another. They are harassed by the Betting Acts, the Gaming Acts, and the Lottery Acts.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was in the House when I ruled somewhat earlier that the question of gaming does not, and cannot arise on this Bill. We are limited here to a very narrow line.
§ Major PROCTER
What I intended to say was that I hope that, on account of the harassing of these deserving people, the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment. It may be that these are the foolish amusements of the poor, but there are people who find a great deal of fun at these fairs, and at the moment it is illegal for showmen to given even a box of chocolates. I hope, therefore, that the Amendment will be accepted by the Home Secretary.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
It is clear that this is an Amendment which I cannot accept. It is an essential feature of the small lotteries which are legalised in Clauses 21 and 22 that they are not to be promoted for private gain. As I understand the position, that is what the present proposal would mean, and if the privilege were granted to one section of the community, however excellent and laudable their object might be, there would 1147 be no possibility of it stopping there, and in the circumstances I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That is exactly the kind of thing to which this Amendment cannot possibly apply.
§ Amendment negatived.