HC Deb 07 November 1934 vol 293 cc1188-91

(1) Every person carrying on business as a bookmaker on any track or racecourse shall annually apply for his name to be entered in a register kept for such purpose by the chief officer of police for the district in which he normally resides, and a fee not exceeding ten shillings shall be chargeable for such entry.

(2) The chief officer of police shall not permit the name of any bookmaker to be entered in the register unless such person hold a certificate of eligibility granted in accordance with the provisions of this section and authorising the registration of such person as a bookmaker, and any registration permitted in contravention of this Sub-section shall be void.

(3) Certificates of eligibility under this section shall be granted by the petty sessional court having jurisdiction in the petty sessional division in which the bookmaker normally resides, so however that within any part of the Metropolitan police district for which a police court is established a certificate shall not be granted except by a police magistrate.

(4) A certificate of eligibility under this section shall come into force on the date specified therein, and shall expire on the next following thirty-first day of July.

(5) A Secretary of State shall make rules with respect to the procedure to be followed in making applications for certificates, and certificates shall be in such a form as may be prescribed by rules so made.

(6) A certificate of eligibility shall not be refused except on some one or more of the following grounds—

  1. (a) that satisfactory evidence has not been produced of the good character of the applicant;
  2. (b) that satisfactory evidence has been produced by the secretary of the Jockey Club or the secretary of the National Hunt Committee that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to hold a certificate;
  3. (c) that the applicant is by order of a court disqualified for holding a certificate;
  4. (d) that the applicant has not complied with the provisions of any rules made under this section with respect to applications for certificates.

(7) Any person aggrieved by the refusal of a petty sessional court to grant a certificate may appeal to a court of quarter sessions in the manner provided by the Summary Jurisdiction Act as if the refusal were an order of a court of summary jurisdiction.

(8) Any person carrying on business as a bookmaker on any track or racecourse who accepts or negotiates or who assists in the acceptance or negotiations of a bet without being at the time duly registered in accordance with the terms of this section, or who issues any betting ticket not clearly marked with his number in the register of bookmakers, shall be liable in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months or to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to both such imprisonment or such fine, and in addition to any penalty the court may in its discretion—

  1. (a) order the certificate of eligibility of any registered bookmaker to be delivered up and the registration to be cancelled;
  2. (b) order the certificate of eligibility of any registered bookmaker to be suspended for such a period as the court may deem meet;
  3. (c) order the person convicted to pay the whole or any part of the costs of the prosecution.—[Wing-Commander James.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

11.42 p.m.

Wing-Commander JAMES

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time".

This Clause is not being moved with any ulterior motive or to damage the Bill, but from an honest endeavour to improve it. It seeks to ensure that bookmakers on the tracks shall be registered in conformity with the recommen- dation of the Royal Commission, who on page 102 in their Final Report state specifically that, The police witnesses and the representatives of bookmakers all favoured the adoption of some system of licensing or registration. The objects of registration are set out in page 101 of the Report, in which it says that it would help to eliminate welshing and fraud. On page 165 the Royal Commission implement that opinion by a specific recommendation that All persons who carry on business as bookmakers, whether on or off the course, should be registered. The Government may say that as they are not dealing with off-the-course betting, they cannot register bookmakers on the course. That argument really will not hold water. There would be a certain amount of overlapping, but the sort of bookmaker whose operations this Clause seeks to correct operates both on and off the course. There is no doubt that bookmakers as a whole would welcome registration. To some extent the off-the-course bookmakers are already localised.


I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that the Bill does not deal with off-the-course betting, and ask him to confine himself to on-the-course betting.

Wing-Commander JAMES

I am merely seeking to show that there is no conflict of interests in the registration of on-the-course bookmakers, but I will not attempt to pursue that point further. I am not wedded to any line or phrase in the Clause I have put down. It has only been put down in this form in the hope that the Government will accept the principle. Actually the new Clause is based on the Moneylenders Act, and I have no doubt that the Home Secretary could, if he wished, find a much better form of words. It is a question of principle. If the Home Secretary will accept the principle, then no doubt on the Report stage he could produce a suitable Clause. This is a relatively small addition and, unlike a good deal of the Bill, it would have the merit of being popular. I do not think there is any section of the people in the country who would object. Certainly the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) would not object to this Clause. It would stop a minor kind of abuse in racing. I am not concerned with the regular racegoer; he can look after himself. It is the general public I want to protect from the bookmakers who are there simply to fleece them. At present the police are helpless in dealing with what is an evil.

The Clause clearly conforms with the sentiments of a little tract on betting issued by the Christian Social Union—a very good tract, written by a very capable man. The Magistrates' Association in their last report, state that they have considered this Bill and have sent a resolution to the Lord Chancellor expressing satisfaction with the Bill, but regretting "that provision for the licensing and registration of bookmakers has been omitted." The effect of the new Clause would be to help the police, help the management, protect the public, and in general to make for better and cleaner sport. I very much hope that the Minister will accept the principle of the Clause, and, if necessary, produce a better Clause for dealing with this matter on the Report stage.

11.48 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman has, of course quite properly, quoted the views of the Royal Commission on this problem, and as I know that he desires to achieve the purpose which no doubt we all have in common, I have every sympathy with the idea. But I must say that I do not think that the real object of the Royal Commission would be achieved by dealing with only one aspect of the problem. It is clear that it would be difficult at this period to put into the Bill machinery which would provide for the registration of bookmakers, but the fact remains that unless there is a system of registration of bookmakers in all circumstances you will not be able to control adequately the bookmaking profession. It is therefore, I am afraid, impossible for me at this stage to say that I would accept this Clause. Certainly, I could not accept it in this form. In any case, it would not be desirable to attempt to deal with a problem so large as this, unless we felt that we could do it effectively.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.