§ 4.5 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
This Clause, I think, is the shortest in the Bill. It says:Subject to the provisions of this part of this Act, all lotteries are unlawful.It will be seen that the Clause is really a most suitable one on which to raise the general principles of Part II of the Bill, because actually if the Clause were left out, of the Bill, and if at the same time were passed the Second Schedule, which, without being a lawyer, I think repeals all the existing enactments as to the illegality of lotteries, the effect would be that all lotteries would, in fact, be lawful, subject, of course, to the provisions of the remaining Clauses of Part II. Therefore, I think that I have established the proposition that Clause 21 is the most suitable for the general Debate we are now initiating. I am aware that there are a very large number of Members who would desire to take part. in this Debate, and I will endeavour to set a good example by speaking at no great length. I am one of those who, in general, like to speak often but not long in this House.
Why am I in favour of terminating the present situation that lotteries should be deemed to be unlawful I am in favour of it because I believe I am representing the point of view in this respect of the ordinary man-in-the-street. I have to-day in my peregrinations met a good number of citizens of all sorts—shop assistants, lavatory cleaners, Members of Parliament, waiters, and cloakroom attendants, and I have casually mentioned to those who knew me that we had been up all night, and when they asked me what we had been talking about, I said this Bill. In varying phrases, which I cannot repeat because they would be 1789 unparliamentary, they expressed in very simple and direct terms what they think of us collectively in our attitude to this problem. Quite honestly, they do not believe that we are quite as sincere as we profess to be. They believe that the ordinary Member of Parliament occasionally has what they call "a bob on a horse," and buys a ticket in a sweepstake, and although they know that many dislike buying tickets in the Irish Sweepstake for political reasons, they have no objection on any moral grounds.
That is the attitude of the public. It may not be the attitude of a section of the public who do not believe in any form of gambling or betting. I am one who has never been either a bettor or a gambler in the sense of ever staking anything, which, if I lost it, was likely to make any difference. The very small stakes in which I may have indulged when playing cards, or on the very rare Occasions when I have visited horse or dog races, have been to me merely an expenditure on an amusement, and I have paid to lose and not to win. I do not approach this question from the point of view of that large number of people who are very interested in betting. I have never been, and do not want to be, for I regard betting as a regular thing to be very foolish. But I do not regard it as sinful unless carried to excess so as to bring harm to a household. There are certain people who ought not to bet because they have no restraint., and, therefore, if they indulge in it, in the long run they get into difficulties. I do not think that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), who holds a profoundly different view from me, would differ from me as to whether the attitude of the general public is that they would rather have some kind of authorised national lottery than otherwise. He thinks they ought not, because they are bad for them. I am not discussing whether they are good or bad; I am trying to discuss what I believe to be the general attitude of the public.
The Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake has been running for, I believe, five years, and it is participated in to a very large extent by the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. One can only judge the extent of that participation by the extent to which inhabitants of the United Kingdom are prize winners, but 1790 it has been the practice of the newspapers to publish lists of winners with their addresses, and without ever having added them up, the general impression I gather from looking at those lists is that at least two-thirds of the prize winners live in the United Kingdom. The remainder are either inhabitants of the United States of America or the Irish Free State itself, with a few people living in all parts of the world. So that it is the United Kingdom which, in the main, has sustained the Irish Sweepstake. Have we up to now had any evidence that the Irish Sweepstake, to which I object on political grounds, hut not on moral grounds—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not want to see the people of this country subsidising the Government of Mr. de Valera directly or indirectly as long as we are engaged in a fiscal dispute with them, tariffs being the weapon and the failure to pay the Irish Annuities the cause. I do not wish to assist people with whom we are engaged in a particular form of economic war. That is why I object on political grounds. But has the Irish Sweepstake caused any demoralisation to the people of the United Kingdom? Was there any evidence produced before the Royal Commission to the effect that the inhabitants of this country had been demoralised by it? I have not heard of any. I am not going to say that no person has suffered through winning a large prize. Occasionally people whose means have been very restricted may be led astray if they suddenly become possessors of what is to them, or, in fact, to anybody, a very large sum of money, but even under that heading I have not heard of any such cases of serious demoralisation. The only one which received any publicity was the case of three restaurant keepers who quarrelled about their share of the winnings. Apart from that, I have not heard of any demoralisation, and we have had five years' or so experience of great lotteries such as my hon. Friend has advocated—national in character, except that they are run by another nation.
It is abvious that they give a great deal of interest and pleasure at a very small expense to a vast number of people. I suppose that the average participant in these lotteries invests about 2s. They do 1791 not even hold individually a single ticket, but three, four or five people buy a ticket between them, and on this very small expenditure they get a lot of amusement which gives them great satisfaction. As a matter of fact, I do not think anybody can get as much amusement for 2s. as they do by buying a ticket in a sweepstake of this character. They get an anticipatory thrill for weeks, and then when the newspapers publish the winners, they spend, perhaps, more money in buying early editions than probably they spent on the ticket. That is the extent of their demoralisation. I have known personally only one successful participant in the Irish Sweepstake, and he was a Roman Catholic priest. I read about it in the newspapers in the town where he lived, and I called to congratulate him. He is a man of the very highest standing, and obviously he did not think he was being demoralised in the slightest degree by buying a ticket in the Irish Sweepstake.
I have drawn attention to the fact that the second largest purchasers of tickets in the Irish Sweepstake appear to be inhabitants of the United States. That is of considerable significance having regard to Clause 22, on which I imagine there will be some further discussion because the Home Secretary has an Amendment down, and I do not want to discuss now what I shall want to discuss on that Amendment. I would point out, however, that, as far as I understand, the United States prohibits the publication in American newspapers of matters descriptive of the drawing of a lottery, or at least they make it illegal for newspapers to publish lists of prize winners. They have gone further than this Clause appears to go. They have definitely prohibited the importation of newspapers printed in other countries giving lists of prize winners. I understand that certain papers published in this country and in the Irish Free State have found it necessary to print special editions for exportation to the United States, where there is obviously a considerable demand for English and Irish newspapers, in order to avoid the penalty which would be imposed on them if those newspapers, as sent to the United States, contained lists of prize winners.
I emphasise this because the Home Secretary apparently thinks that by restrictions upon the activities of the Press 1792 he will stamp out the Irish Sweepstake. Those restrictions, I understand, are now in operation in the United States, and, although that country is 3,000 miles away from the headquarters of the Irish Sweepstake, and it is obviously much more difficult for tickets to be introduced into the United States, it appears to be the second largest purchaser of tickets in that sweepstake. That leads me to believe that the provisions of Clause 22 will be far less effective than the right hon. Gentleman imagines. He must be gratified by the publication this morning in the newspaper, which, I understand, has the largest circulation, of a letter addressed to him a few days ago by the proprietor of that newspaper, Lord Rothermere, in which he expresses approval of Clause 22. Lord Rothermere is a great and powerful person. I have not the pleasure of his acquaintance, but he is obviously a man of ability and power. Otherwise he would not have reached the great position which he holds. He has expressed strong support of Clause 22, and the Home Secretary must be very gratified; but it may well be the case that, if you possess the newspaper with the largest circulation, you may be desirous that newspapers with smaller circulations should be prohibited from having that degree of publicity which will help them to increase their circulation and become comparable to your own.
§ Mr. BANFIELD
May I say to the hon. Member that he is altogether wrong in claiming the largest circulation for Lord Rothermere's paper. The "Daily Herald" has that.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Despite the circulation certificates published by various accountants, all of whom, I presume, fall in the classification of the First Schedule to this Bill, I have some doubts of the value of those certificates, because, if you put enough coupons of various kinds in your paper, you can have a fictitious circulation which is not a read circulation. Even if the circulation of the "Daily Mail" be not the largest, Lord Rothermere's paper is one of the largest. It has obviously a position of great influence, and, naturally, anything which will make it more difficult for new competitors to come along may quite properly have the support of the proprietor of that newspaper. I have not the slightest objection to the Noble Lord expressing 1793 that view, but I think I am entitled to comment on the fact that it is not necessarily a view which he takes in his capacity as a legislator, but a view which he may have taken in his capacity as the principal proprietor of the "Daily Mail."
We have had considerable discussion with regard to the lotteries that will be legal—the bazaar and private lotteries—and I am one of those who are a little perturbed about the provisions, one of which is that no tickets in connection with private lotteries may be sent through the post. I do not see the slightest reason why the members of a properly conducted club or society who may not find it convenient to call at the club house or the headquarters should not be permitted to receive through the post a book of tickets sent by the secretary, provided that the club law is stiffened up in such a way that a fictitious membership is eliminated. There is not a Member of the House who has not from time to time received from perfectly proper organisations in his constituency books of tickets for charitable or other purposes. There may be a few, like the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who send them back. That is a form of economy which would be attractive to many of us, and possibly they are sent back more on grounds of economy than on grounds of morals. In any event, it does seem a fussy interference with the liberty of communication between the secretary and a member of a society, and it obviously might involve an extension of that power which the Postmaster-General has, but which we always like to see him exercise with the utmost care, of opening private correspondence. It is a power which ought to be exercised with the greatest care, and, although it is something that none of us like, we recognise that in certain matters it is a power which the State ought to possess.
Then there is the question of search. I pointed out in an earlier Debate the risks involved when the search does not arise out of a great enterprise like the Irish sweepstake, but arises out of a small enterprise in which, for some reason, an unduly fussy chief constable may be stimulated to take action and a too complacent magistrate may authorise constables to enter the private houses of people whose offence is the very minor 1794 one of some slight infraction of the provisions of Clause 24. It might well be the case that a search warrant might be issued in connection with proceedings which, when they came before the magistrate, would be dismissed with a caution and without a conviction. I hope we shall to some extent safeguard ourselves against those risks.
Generally speaking, I take the view that whether lotteries are good or bad, they cannot be effectively prohibited. We have seen in the United States the attempt to prohibit the manufacture, transport and sale of liquor. That attempt was a complete failure. It was also something worse than a complete failure, for it created conditions infinitely more demoralising than those which prevailed before Prohibition. Although I never visited that country in the pre-Prohibition days, I understand the conditions of sale were not too good, but those conditions were better than the conditions which prevailed during Prohibition. Prohibition of something which the great mass of people feel entitled to do is bound to fail, and I am opposed to the attempt to turn into a crime something which the majority of people think they are entitled to do. The only effect will be to bring the law into disrepute. The House ought to resist legislation of that character. Therefore, what we cannot prohibit it is wise to regulate. The Home Secretary may be right in his calculations. The new power he is seeking under this Bill may enable him to destroy the effectiveness of the Irish Sweepstake. Only the future can tell, but in my judgment he will fail. Therefore, there will still be a national sweepstake being conducted by people authorised by a Government outside this country and carried on in this country illicitly, and every one taking part in it breaking the law and thinking it rather a lark to break the law. It is most undesirable that young or old people should think it a joke to break the law. Therefore, I have always held the view that we should never pass Acts which we can never effectively enforce.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I was a Member of the Standing Committee to which this Bill was referred. I have been present at practically all the 1795 Debates since the Bill was brought down to the Floor of the House—a procedure I have already characterised as not in the interest of Parliament. I have read the Bill and re-read it, and I have heard the Government's explanation in Committee upstairs and on the Floor of the House, and I have no hesitation in saying that during the 16 years that I have been a Member of this House this Bill is the worst, the most slovenly and the most demoralising Measure which I can recollect having been brought forward by any Government. I shall try not to repeat anything I said in moving the Amendment in favour of a national lottery. My principal objection to the Bill is that it is both hypocritical and dishonest and does not carry out the objects which the Government stated they had in view in introducing it. The Government stated upstairs, and they have also stated on the Floor of the House, and it was stated in another place, that, having appointed a Royal Commission to deal with the question of betting and gambling, it was necessary for them, if they had any self-respect, to implement the recommendations of that Commission. The Bill entirely fails to do so.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I rejoice to hear that my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) agrees with what I say.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I thought the hon. Member did. I have heard him say that a great many of the recommendations were not carried out. If I omit the word "entirely," I am sure he will agree that in many respects the recommendations of the Royal Commission are not dealt with in this Bill. The Commission, the Government tell us, were shocked, and most people are shocked, at the immense increase pf betting and gambling and its demoralising effect in the country. Pages of evidence were given to the Commission to this effect, and the main points which the Commission emphasised as being the principal causes of the demoralisation of the country by betting and gambling were, first, street betting, second, football pools, and, third, but to a less extent, the totalisator on greyhound racing tracks. All these forms of betting and gambling, going 1796 on every day, week by week, throughout the year were condemned by the Royal Commission, who recommended that the Government should take immediate steps to deal with them. They also considered the question of a national lottery, but while not recommending it—they did not point to the evidence, which in no way supported them in not recommending it—they did say that it would be the least harmful of all forms of betting and gambling. The passage in their report says:A state lottery has marked advantages over other forms of lottery. It can be conducted through the Post Office at a low administrative cost, and if at any time it were considered desirable to put an end to the lottery no large private interests would have been created.Those are, generally speaking, the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which the Government said they had decided to implement. What has -been done? There is no mention of street betting in this Bill, although we are informed that it is one of the main causes of the demoralisation of the country in the matter of betting and gambling. As to football pools, when the Bill was first introduced it included Clauses regulating them, but the Noble Lord who introduced the Bill in another place said that the Government did not intend to proceed with that part of it. From that day to this the Government, who have been repeatedly asked for their reasons, have never told us the real underlying reason for that withdrawal.
I should not be in order in referring at any length to the totalisator, but I would say, in support of my argument that this is a dishonest Bill, that in Committee the Government could have got agreement among the Members of the Committee on the basis of having a close season for dog racing, restricting it to 111 days in the year, that is, three days a week for 37 weeks. Although they could have got that agreement, and everyone thought it would be desirable, they have not embodied it in the Bill, because they said they could not get universal agreement among the dog racing interests. What is the country coming to if we have a Government not legislating in the interests of the community but in the interests of certain sections of the community who have private interests?
1797 On the question of a national lottery, the least harmful form of betting and gambling in the opinion of the Royal Commission, the Government fairly let themselves go. They recite all that was said in evidence before the Royal Commission as to the evils of betting and gambling, and suggest that if a national lottery were held here all those evils would be immensely increased. Surely that is dishonest. They do nothing in regard to street betting or football pools, they allow totalisator betting on 104 days a year, but say that the country would be demoralised by three national lotteries in 365 days. Really, it is playing with one's intelligence for them to say that the one thing is comparable with the other, especially when we recall that nearly every other great country in the world indulges in national lotteries—France, Italy, Germany and all the other great countries. Have they been demoralised? There is no sign of it. A lottery is a form of relaxation which the people desire, and it would raise large sums of money for things which are earnestly needed—afforestation, open spaces, cancer research and for a hundred other things which everyone regards as urgent but which the Government, when the Budget is produced, say they can find no money for—except a few hundred thousand pounds, if that. Why should we not have this additional source of revenue It is not suggested, of course, that lotteries would run the country, and I do not even suggest the raising of money for the objects I have mentioned as a reason for having State lotteries. I say the reason we should have State lotteries is that the people desire them, and no Government can maintain themselves for any length of time if they flout the will of the people. If the Government say the desires of the people are not good they must educate the people to change their desires. But as long as the people demand a thing the Government cannot say, "We know better than the people what it is good for them to have."
Not only do they forbid a state lottery hut they frame the most savage penalties, out of all proportion to the offence, penalties such as are not applicable to many of the most serious crimes. Offenders can be fined up to £750 or one year's imprisonment, or both together, for a second offence. As the Bill was introduced people were presumed to be 1798 guilty before they were proved guilty, a thing abhorrent to British criminal law, but we forced them to take that out. In the matter of domiciliary searches we tried to get inserted the same Clause as had been put into the Incitement to Sedition Bill, but the Government resisted it, and now any person can apply to any magistrate to have anyone's house searched—if necessary, opened by force by any constable—if someone swears that the occupant has something in connection with a foreign lottery on his premises. As an hon. Friend reminds me, it might even be done in connection with a legal lottery. Then there is the muzzling of the Press. We are making children of the nation. There is something to be said for prohibiting the publication of long lists of prize winners, but I say it is absurd to pass a, Clause—we have forced the Government to alter it to some extent, though it is still not satisfactory —to say that as a matter of news a paper shall not state that on such and such a, date a procession of people went to the drawing of a lottery in Paris, or that young ladies dressed as jockeys went in procession to the Rotunda in Dublin and there, from a great drum, or a, battleship, or something else, drew the tickets in a national lottery. Why should not the people be told things like that? It is absurd. Dozens of new crimes are being created by this Measure, with its vague, indefinite Clauses, which are most difficult to understand.
The Home Secretary said that he was unaware that there was any demand for a national lottery. I gave some instances in my speech the other day, and will not repeat them, but I would remind him that he is a Member of a Government which is predominantly Conservative, that this House is overwhelmingly Conservative, that the votes cast for the return of Members now in this House were overwhelmingly Conservative, that the annual conference of Conservative Associations demand a national lottery, that women Conservatives have demanded it. I received this morning a letter stating that at a meeting of representatives of the governing body of the Association of Conservative Clubs, representing London, Lancashire, Cheshire, the East and West Midlands, the Eastern Counties, the South and West of England and the Home Counties, it was unanimously resolved that the following note should be sent to 1799 the Lord President of the Council and every one of the 1,550 affiliated clubs:That this meeting of the governing body of the Association of Conservative Clubs expresses its profound disappointment that the resolutions in favour of a national lottery passed at area conferences of Conservative clubmen and the annual conference of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Asssociations have been entirely ignored by the Government.The Leader of the Opposition asks me why I do not quote the views of trade unionists. I quoted the other day from the "Daily Herald," their official organ, which had a very large lottery, offering £20,000 for 6d., and I am entitled to tell my Conservative friends the feeling of Conservatives who send them here and whom they are supposed to represent. Although we Conservatives on this side are like voices crying in a wilderness in this House we are not crying in the wilderness in the country—very much the reverse, as hon. Members who were present at the Conference at Bristol, attended by 2,000 delegates from all over the country, would know if they heard the reception which was extended to my proposal. But in this House Conservatives are taboo. It is the Liberals who conduct this Government. It is the Liberals who force these things. The Government look across to the Whip of the Opposition and say, "Will you support us if we sit up a little late?" and the answer is "Yes, you can go on." We as Conservatives are trampled on while the Socialists and the Liberals rule the roost. I have quoted Conservative opinion in the country, and the sooner the Government take notice of the opinion of their Conservative supporters the better it will be for the Government and for the Conservative Members of it.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I quoted the opinion of the governing body of the Association of Conservative Clubs, and then I stated what happened at the annual conference of the National Union of Conservative Associations at Bristol. The resolution in favour of a State lottery had been on the agenda paper for some weeks before, and delegates came prepared to vote on it, and it was carried by acclamation with but a few dissentients. Therefore, I claim there is no question about what 1800 Conservative opinion is, and I object that in this overwhelmingly Conservative House Conservatives who voice the opinion of the Conservative rank and file should be treated as though they were taboo and only Liberal and Socialist opinion was worth anything.
Then as to the new crimes being created. The Royal Commission say that it is most undesirable to create new crimes unless there is a very strong social reason for it. I suggest that the whole criminal law is being brought into contempt and disrepute by the creation of all sorts of crimes in restriction of the freedom of the individual and the Press in matters which no one really regards as a crime. Even so one can drive a coach-and-four through the whole Bill. People will be able to take lottery tickets in France or Ireland or anywhere else—but not a lottery ticket in our own country free and above board. All this business will be forced underground. We shall be making millions of people into criminals. Could anything be worse for the criminal law? One will say to a man "You have taken something from me, you are a thief" and he will turn round and say "You also have broken the law. You have sold an Irish lottery ticket to a friend. You are just as bad as I am." Is that desirable? Of course it is not desirable.
What are the reasons for this extraordinary attitude on the part of the Government? I am asked this question every day. They flout their supporters, pay no attention to the resolutions of Conservatives. Why are they acting in a way which infuriates electors all over the country? Do they not want to be returned to power when an election comes in a year's time? Why should they do it? Are they mad, or is it that the gods drive mad those whom they intend to destroy? I do not know, but here are some of the reasons that are suggested. It is first of all suggested that the Government, having this enormous majority, have the swollen heads of arrogance, as very often happens to dictators. When they have immense power, as the Government had last night, and when they can trample upon everybody, what do they care for a resolution of their supporters in the country? Their supporters in the country are not in the House of Commons, and the Government can snap their fingers at them. It is secondly 1801 suggested that in the Government's great international preoccupations, their balancing of Budgets and their continual going to and from Geneva where our Foreign Secretary lives a great part of the year—I am not minimising these things—their heads are so full that they do not even consider other things. That is apparently the case. The Government do not even know what the feelings of their supporters are.
Thirdly, it is suggested that, as those who demand a national lottery are unorganised and do not start postcard campaigns or get sermons preached at Baptist chapels, churches and elsewhere, the Government need not take any notice. Fourthly—this has been suggested to me as the correct reason—I am told that this is a Coalition Government and that certain Members of it are quite willing to swallow the idea that there should be no reference in the Bill to football pools or to street betting, which do by far the most harm in the encouragement of betting and gambling, so long as they themselves can shake the mantle of rectitude and say, "We shall not be sullied by having any part or lot in a lottery of any kind. The other things may be inure injurious and may encourage betting and gambling more, but we will not be Members of a Government who have authorised a national lottery which would necessitate our seeing that it was run fairly, and of which we should have to audit the accounts." If this be indeed the true reason, as I have had it on very high authority that it is, it is weak and cowardly, and it brings the Government into disrepute. Moreover it destroys any chance of a Coalition Government continuing after the next election.
It is a dishonest reason. The Government know that a national lottery is not a cause of demoralisation, but because of their unctuous rectitude, they will not take part in something to which some of their members object and they prefer to make criminals of millions of our people. Another matter which I have had brought up to me is the dishonesty of Parliament. It is only two years ago that I introduced a Bill into this House providing for a national lottery. The Patronage Secretary and a number of Members of the present Government, together with some 176 other Conservative Members, voted for the First Reading of that Bill. The principle was the same. I explained that 1802 the Bill was for the establishment of a national lottery. If that be an immoral object, surely the people with these white garments and the moral rectitude of their £750 fines and their imprisonment for every one Who is discovered taking part in an Irish lottery sweepstake, having gone into the Lobby to support a Bill to establish a national lottery—
§ Mr. ALBERY
The hon. Member must be well aware that it is customary for hon. Members to give a colleague the First Reading of his Bill.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Certainly, but not if they object to the whole principle of a national lottery. I cannot imagine any person who is a self-respecting Member of Parliament voting for a Bill which he considered immoral and subversive of the public interest. Such a person is not fit to be a Member of Parliament. There is no question about it. No wonder people in the country are beginning to despise Parliament when only 49 Members the other day voted for the national lottery as against 176 who supported my Bill.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
Is it not usual and natural not to vote against the Bill which you have not seen, but to support the bringing in of a Bill and then to read it and make up your mind after you have read it?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
It is perfectly usual to vote for the First Reading of a Bill which you have not seen, if you are in general agreement with the principle, but not if you object to a national lottery of any kind. In my Amendment to this Bill I did not lay down any particular kind of national lottery, but I said the form of national lottery, to be set up could be decided by the Government of the day. Any Member who votes for a Bill to establish any kind of national lottery and yet thinks that a national lottery is immoral is not fitted to represent a constituency. To show what ridiculous humbug this is, may I say that I have had a telegram from Australia to say that a very distinguished person who is out there has been fortunate enough to draw one of the favourites in a sweepstake on the Melbourne cup. Do we think any the less of the distinguished person in Australia because he has drawn a horse in a sweep? Of course we do not, and there is not a person in the country who does. It shows what humbug it all is.
1803 The Government have thrown over the very wise statement of the Royal Commission with regard to the creation of. crimes. This is what the Royal Commission said:In framing legislation with these objects in view, we regard it as of the utmost importance that not more prohibitions should be made than are absolutely necessary. Every new prohibition creates a new class of potential offenders. It must, of course, always remain a matter of judgment, based on the facts of each case, whether a particular social evil is sufficiently serious to justify criminal legislation. But as a general principle the criminal law must not lightly be invoked; and the evils which result from any prohibition, however desirable the object aimed at, must be set in the balance against the evil which it is sought to diminish.As has been found in America, the whole criminal law can be brought into disrepute through prohibition. An article on British liberty which was sent to me this week contains the following sentence which I commend to the House:The right, and the duty, of individual men to order their own affairs, and to bear the responsibiilty for them, is being denied by Parliament.I beg hon. Members on all sides of the House to reject this part of the Bill, which does nothing to regulate betting anti gambling, makes criminals of millions of decent members of the community, and, if passed, will undoubtedly ensure the rejection of the present Government at the next election.
§ Sir ALFRED BUTT
Will the hon. Gentleman say what Clause there is in the Bill' which prevents me sending 10s. to the Irish sweepstake in respect of a ticket for my personal use, and prevents the Irish sweepstake organisers sending the ticket back for my personal use?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I was thinking of the next Clause to the one which we are discussing, Clause 22 (1, d), which says:Subject to the provisions of this section, every person who in connection with any lottery promoted or proposed to be promoted either in Great Britain or else-where—(d) brings, or invites any person to send into, Great Britain for the purpose Of sale or distribution any ticket in, or advertisement of, the lottery.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has departed from the Chamber so quickly. I thought there was a reason why he had departed, but I understand now that he is coming back. During the past 24 hours I have heard a few adjectives used against the Home Secretary. He has been referred to as dishonest, stupid, having a swollen head, mad, a bully, arrogant, inadequate, incompetent, and a humbug, and there has been a reference to his unctuous rectitude.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Oh, no, not the Home Secretary; some of his colleagues. I never said that he had unctuous rectitude.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
When the adjectives were being used, I thought perhaps there was no point in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping coming into this Debate. We can compliment the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) on the heat which he always generates in regard to sweepstakes. If he could only generate as much heat behind a sweeping broom he would be as good as 15,000,000 men in this House. If all that heat could be accumulated, it would keep the home fires burning for many months.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) said it was a foolish thing for the Government to do anything that would make the law of the country a mockery. He must know that the law in regard to lotteries, sweepstakes, draws and gambling has been held in contempt for a good time. He knows that the situation when the Commission was set up was so chaotic that nobody quite knew whether he was committing a legal or an illegal act.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I am aware that in every street in England bookmakers are taking money from the people illegally in vast sums.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Exactly, and that is one phase of the subject about which every Member of the House knows. Ready money betting is illegal in the eyes of the law, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and only credit betting is legal, so far as 1805 we know. The Bill tends to dissipate a good deal of doubt and to clarify the position, so far as lotteries are concerned. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said that we should appeal to Caesar on the question of the large sweepstakes and large lotteries. To Caesar we ought to go, in order to see exactly what the conclusions were. Referring to large sweepstakes either from this country or from abroad, the Royal Commission said, in paragraph 484:At the outset of this inquiry we approached the subject of lotteries from the point of view that present circumstances seemed to call for a considerable relaxation of the existing prohibition of large scale lotteries in this country. After close consideration of the subject we have, however, reached the conclusion that a relaxation of the existing prohibition of large lotteries is undesirable and is not called for.The quotations of the hon. Member for South Kensington from the Royal Commission are as nought compared with their final, definite, and clearly understandable conclusion in paragraph 484.
§ Mr. PIKE
I do not know why the hon. Member went immediately to the second paragraph of 484, because the concluding three lines of the previous paragraph are:We agree that a law which has broken down and lacks public support cannot be made effective merely by imposing heavier penalties.That is entirely the case of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison).
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Yes, but the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike) must he aware that the part of the paragraph which is relevant and which follows the quotation to which he has just referred is the general conclusion, and not merely a part of the review. With regard to large sweepstakes and lotteries, I said on the Second Reading Debate that I hoped that sweepstakes would not be abolished until I had won the Irish sweepstake twice. That, perhaps, was an exaggeration. Personally, I am wholly indifferent as to whether large or small sweepstakes are carried on or not, but, as a public representative, I am convinced that large sweepstakes of the kind which we have under review at the moment ought not to be encouraged in this country.
A few days ago a very intelligent public representative submitted to me 1806 that it was folly on the part of any Government not to encourage either local or national lotteries for any purpose, whether for the purpose of hospitals or charitable institutions or of any other general re-division of spending power. This public representative happens to be a business man also. I put to him this question: If there were a lottery in the town—which has a population of some 60,000—and if 25 per cent. of the total population each invested 10s. in a ticket, there would be a sum of £7,500 available; and, if £5,000 were allocated to one prize and the other £2,500 divided up among a few individuals, what, I asked him, would be the net result in that town where he was carrying on his business? He had not examined the question at all, and the reply had to be given to him. It was that clearly one person, for 10s., would secure £5,000, and someone else, for 10s., would perhaps secure £1,000. It might be that the £5,000 received by the one individual would be invested, perhaps in South America or Timbuctoo, but one thing that is certain is that that £5,000 would not be spent over the shop counters in the town where this conversation took place, so that, in terms of trade, it would be a definite loss to the business of the town.
The same conclusion must be reached if one thinks in terms of a national lottery. If I won £30,000, the chances are that, like any other Member of this House, or anyone beyond these walls, I should take a holiday on the Riviera, or a trip round the world, or something of the kind; my money would go anywhere but over the shop counters of this country, and to that extent, apart from the question of morals, it would be a distinct national loss. I entirely agree that one can be indifferent as an individual towards the Irish Sweepstake or a national lottery, but, as a public representative, one ought at least to have a conscience—
§ Mr. McGOVERN
If the hon. Member buys tickets as a private individual, I think he ought to be logical and refuse to take a prize.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Does the hon. Member believe in keeping two consciences, a public and a private conscience?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. and learned Gentleman has been doing that all his 1807 legal life; no one knows that better than the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. People often boast that this country, as regards its social life and standing and its general appreciation of social qualities, is far and away superior to any other country, and that ought to discourage any hon. Member of this House from quoting what happens, for instance, in France or in Italy. I have devoted the past 20 years of my life to denouncing the undeserved poverty and destitution that there is in this country; there is far too much of that for my liking; but if it be true, as hon. Members insist, that this is the best of all countries from the social or any other point of view, I do not think that anything they can import from abroad would improve the situation in that respect. Those hon. Gentlemen who support Irish sweepstakes, or French sweepstakes, or any other sweepstakes abroad, are always the loudest in their denunciation of the importation of foodstuffs from any other country.
I do not think that we ought to descend to lotteries and sweepstakes, either to abolish our National Debt, or to deal with the question of unemployment, or to make provision for social services, or to do any of those things that ought to come as a result of national effort definitely organised on a national scale, and financed by revenue provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a faulty alternative, and I am glad that the Home Secretary is not falling for it.
This lottery business is a "something for nothing" business. I can understand the hon. Member for South Croydon. who believes in a system of getting but not giving, who believes in a system of something for nothing, supporting this policy. I can understand the hon. Member for West Kensington supporting this "something for nothing" idea, because he has always supported a system which means that somebody who does nothing gets a great deal more than those who do everything. There is an element of consistency about those hon. Gentlemen, and I have no complaint to make. With regard to small lotteries, the hon. Member for South Croydon and the hon. Member for West Kensington tried to make out that the Government had sidestepped the Royal Commission in relation to lotteries. The hon. Member for 1808 West Kensington did, of course, refer to football pools—
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I would point out to the hon. Member that West Kensington is not in my constituency.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member for South Kensington did refer to football pools and totalisators and other matters in which the Government had not been strictly consistent, but at least with regard to lotteries they have 'pursued the line laid down by the Royal Commission. I do not suggest that all Royal Commissions are perfect, that their recommendations are not vulnerable, and in this particular if anyone is vulnerable it is not so much the Home Secretary as the Royal Commission, for in paragraph 498 they say:Very small lotteries for small prizes do no social harm, and provided the danger of fraud and nuisance can be prevented, there is a good case for removing them from the ambit of the criminal law.The Government have, in Clause 23, removed them from the ambit of the criminal law. But these small lotteries are not "something for nothing" lotteries; they are lotteries where people have to give, and do give for the sake of giving, and not because of any colossal prize that they are likely to receive, because no prize—and the prizes may not be in cash—may exceed £10 in value. With regard to private lotteries, the Commission definitely state in paragraph 498 that they think that, if the danger of fraud can be eliminated, they ought to continue. Clause 24 of the Bill deals with private lotteries, and under it, if the members of a club, society or institution want to have a flutter exclusively among themselves, without any institution deriving any benefit, they are entitled to do that.
Having said so much in favour of the right hon. Gentleman, I may perhaps refer to the point that we advanced in Committee with regard to penalties in the case of the large sweepstake or lottery for profit-making purposes, as distinct from the private lottery which is permitted in connection with a bazaar, fete or entertainment, and the other small 1809 lotteries. We think that there ought to have been some discrimination between the large and the small offences as regards the penalty of £100, and that this penalty should not apply in all cases, including, perhaps, cases in which there had been merely an indiscretion. We think that, until the law is again understood after the passing of this Measure, the penalties ought to have been subdivided.
There is just one other snag, to which I have already referred, and that is in Clause 26. which contains the only real contradiction in the Bill. It sets out to abolish newspaper competitions, but legalises football pools, leaving the newspaper as a medium for advertising pool betting. That is an extraordinary situation. The right hon. Gentleman stated, some time last evening, that merely to deal with football pools would not be sufficient, because there might be cricket pools, or racing pools, or other pools, and it is a question that will have to be dealt with more comprehensively that by just touching football. I should say that, if there is a hypocritical Clause in this Measure, it is Clause 26. Newspaper competitions are ruled out, but organised football pools for private gain are made legal. Whether the right hon. Gentleman merits all those epithets which have been hurled at him by his friends, I cannot say, but so far as large and small lotteries are concerned he has been fairly faithful to the Royal Commission's recommendations. With regard to football pools he has been less faithful, and we hope he will not hesitate, in the time which remains at his disposal, to recover his lost ground.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mrs. TATE
I do not propose to detain the House for more than a very few moments. I had no real desire to speak on this Bill, but, having been one of those who stayed here until between five and six this morning and voted in every Division against the Government, I consider that some explanation is necessary. I do not represent, like the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) and the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), a Conservative constituency; I represent a constituency very largely composed of people who have almost always voted in support of the Opposition party. 1810 I stood as a National candidate. I stood to safeguard the credit of the country, to safeguard the rights of the people and to safeguard our industries. I did not stand to interfere with the liberties of people as to how they should spend their money. I believe the Bill is before us largely because there has been indignation in the country on account of the very large sums that go out of it in connection with the Irish sweepstakes. The Government have done nothing whatever to make a more satisfactory form of betting. I believe that there are not many Members who deplore the fact that gambling and betting are as rife as they are, and I believe that there are not very many who would not gladly support Measures which had in them some constructive value to guide the desire for betting into more desirable channels. That is exactly what the Bill has not done. Dog racing is—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I must remind the hon. Lady that at the moment we are confined to lotteries.
§ Mrs. TATE
Under the Bill we are allowing a form of betting to be carried on under even less desirable conditions than hitherto. One of the arguments of supporters of the Bill is that young people are at present being taught to gamble. There is nothing whatever in the Bill as it stands which will prevent one young person from gambling to his heart's content in the most undesirable manner possible. Moreover, I cannot believe that it is going to be helpful for these young people to grow up watching the parents whom they honour and respect, and whom they know to be law-abiding citizens, breaking the law, as they most certainly will when they get the chance. We know perfectly well that there is a desire for some form of relaxation in the shape of betting. Many peoples' lives to-day are very dull and dreary and drab, and a little harmless flutter in some form of sweepstake gives months of happiness in anticipation of how the money is going to be spent. They do not expect to win. They regard the money that they put into a lottery as lost, but it gives them any amount of pleasure.
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said that people who gained money in lotteries were generally very 1811 much the worse for it, and they ought not to be allowed to win money in that way because it has a deteriorating effect on their characters. The hon. Member definitely and distinctly said that people who won large stakes in lotteries were very often the worse for it. On that basis, he will have to stop anyone inheriting money suddenly from a rich relative. I should be astonished if the hon. Member himself refused a large sum of money that was left to him on account of the possible deterioration of his character. I believe he is only following the ordinary course of his own outlook. He supports this Bill because he always supports repressive legislation of any kind. If ever he sees people enjoying themselves in a perfectly innocent way he aches to interfere.By the pricking of my thumbs,Something evil this way comes.The Bill does not stop gambling. On the contrary, it sanctions the more undesirable forms of gambling. All it does is to say: "We know that gambling goes on, but it is all right as long as we pretend that we will not allow it. "You are going to make a large number of people potential criminals. I should be interested to know if hon. Members really believe it is desirable that people who have offended and taken a sweepstake ticket for the second time should go to prison with others who have committed serious crimes. Is that how we wish to see the law honoured and carried on? It does the Government little credit that we sat up till between 5 and 6 this morning and the only supporters that they could get were members of the Liberal and Socialist parties and a few Members of the Conservative party who supported them, not because they approved of the Bill, but because they knew that the only alternative to this Government is one that would wreck the country, and almost all of whom supported the Bill, believing it to be absolutely bad, out of loyalty to a Government which they consider the best that we can get at the moment. I have supported the Government, and I am a supporter of the Government, but I cannot support arrant hypocrisy such as this, utter dishonesty, pretending that we do not approve of gambling, and passing a Bill which will allow it in every conceivable form that is undesirable.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
We have heard the hon. Lady's speech with considerable pleasure and appreciation, and, though we may not agree with her, we must agree as to the skill, vehemence and good taste with which she delivered it, which commanded the admiration, if not the agreement, of the House. The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir. W. Davison) who seconded the Amendment pointed out that there are many anomalies and contradictions in the Bill and said that he himself could frame a better one. I should like to see his Bill. Just conceive of any Government which has to face a situation such as exists to-day framing a Bill in which it will not be possible for Members on either side to point out anomalies and contradictions. The Government, after all, have to take the state of affairs as exist. We know, of course, that gambling and betting exist, and what are we to do about it? The hon. Member appeals to the House, which is after all possessed of some logical method of reasoning, that because there is a certain amount of betting and sweepstakes and lotteries we should throw open the gates and go in for State lotteries and have everything. That is the logical deduction from his argument. When such a state of affairs existed in the past and State lotteries and all sorts of games of chance were the prevailing order of the day, what was the state of the country? There was a disinclination on all sides to engage in any industry whatever. Everyone, having discovered what he thought a quick method of getting rich, indulged in various schemes small and large, and the whole population was out in the morning to find out the result of the latest race or sweepstake or lottery.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Is not the reason for that that there was no morning edition of the Press, whereas everyone now can buy a newspaper?
§ Mr. MASON
I appreciate the interruption, but I do not think it invalidates my argument. The hon. Member admits that the effect of such a policy, if carried, would lead to the deplorable state of affairs that existed in times past. The Amendment of the hon. Member advocating State lotteries was based on finance and helping the National Debt. It was soundly defeated, but was supported by an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. That, 1813 to my mind, was the last straw. The hon. Member has given us lengthly discourses time and again. He has given us these arguments for the fourth, fifth or sixth time. I ask him to have mercy on us. I do not suppose for a moment that they have any effect on the Government or on the House, though they may have some in encouraging the enthusiasm of his own supporters.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
If the hon. Member made that speech at a specially convened gathering in the country he would see that it had not much effect there.
I challenge the hon. Member to come with me and make some of his speeches on my platform.
§ Mr. MASON
I am afraid I cannot convince the hon. Member. He evidently believes that, though he cannot make any impression on the House of Commons, he has the country behind him. It is not my business to defend the Conservative party. They have here men far abler to defend them than I am. I am one of those, a Liberal, to whom the hon. Member opposite has referred as supporting the Government. I hope that I shall not be suspect for that, and that the House will believe that I am sincere. I give these views because I sincerely believe them. I believe it would be a fatal and most deplorable thing for the Government to countenance for a moment State lotteries as likely to help out our national credit or help to get rid of the National Debt. The hon. Member based his Amendment upon that fact, and he seems to forget it. He thought that he would get the support apparently of an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), and that the Amendment would commend itself to the whole House. He chase the method of a State lottery in order to improve our national credit and to help us to get rid of our National Debt.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The whole point of putting in the National Debt was in order to put in something which was quite general. The hospitals do not want it, and I put in the National Debt and Afforestation and Unemployment as things which could be helped by the 1814 Government of the day. I repeat that this was done only by way of example.
§ Mr. MASON
The hon. Member runs away from the position. It is no use telling us, when we know the main basis of the Amendment, that that was not the reason he put it in the Amendment and appealed to the House. If he disclaims that, then for what purpose should a State lottery be held? He became very pathetic when he spoke of the pleasure that might be given to a poor creature leading a monotonous life when he discovered that he had either won or lost in some lottery or game of chance. There may be something to be said for his sympathy with people who either win or lose in games of chance, but it is not a serious argument to submit to the Government and the House of Commons in asking them to support a State lottery. He instanced other countries, and spoke of France and Germany. But what is the condition of the credit of those countries compared with the credit of this country? Does the hon. Member know that the 7 per cent. German Dawes Loan can be picked up in the City of London at 60, whereas 2½ per cent. Consols are approaching par? Does he suggest that the credit of France or any other country is better than that of this country?
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), who moved the omission of the Clause, knows something of finance, and I have collaborated with the hon. Member on certain subjects dealing with sound finance. I would ask him if he were now present whether he did not think that a State lottery would be a most fatal thing in which to engage and would have a most deterrent effect upon the national credit of this country. Why should we indulge in this sort of thing if it is bad for our credit? I appeal to the common sense of hon. Members. Am I not right in saying that our credit compares favourably with that of any other country, and that if we were engaged in State lotteries for the purpose of reducing the National Debt it would have a serious effect in reducing our credit?
I have already referred to the question of the amusement part of the argument. Fancy the House of Commons being asked to sanction State lotteries in order to provide entertainment and amusement 1815 for our people. There are many means of entertainment, and I do not think that we as a responsible body should be asked to spend hour after hour discussing State lotteries as a means of entertainment for the people of this country. I have listened to speeches made in support of them. I have already expressed sympathy with regard to the hon. Lady the Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate). She complained of hypocrisy and of the fact that you cannot reconcile one part of the Bill with another. I would say to her with all respect, as a Member who first entered this House about 25 years ago, that there are very few Bills introduced into this House in which you can reconcile one part with another. It is the history of the British Constitution and of all legislation that you cannot produce a perfect Bill. If the hon. Lady can do it, I wish her well. If she can produce a Bill which is watertight and perfect from the first Clause to the last, I shall be glad to listen to her, and, if possible, to welcome her Bill, but I would advise her that before she accuses this Government or any Government of hypocrisy she should have some regard to history. We must have regard to the state of affairs in the country to-day and to the fact that the Government—and I have attacked the present Government, in collaboration with hon. Members above the Gangway, on more occasions than any other hon. Member on this bench—are making a sincere attempt to face the situation as it exists to-day. No case has been made out for the suggestion that the Bill should be withdrawn and that State lotteries should be encouraged.
§ Mr. MASON
I agree that there are points of criticism. I do not deny that there are many subjects which ought to have been left out of the Bill and many which ought to htve been put into it. I decline to support the suggestion, after we have already been over the ground, that there has been any case made out for State lotteries, that we should again 1816 spend our time arguing the matter. I hope that the Government will adhere to the decision which they originally took up.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. GROVES
I desire to put a few points to the Home Secretary. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. D. Mason) made some reference to the Bill being an attempt to deal with the situation as it at present exists. My remarks will not be directed towards the attempt to obtain a national lottery, but to the fact that in the Schedule there are certain recommendations to repeal certain Acts which have proved inimical to the general well-being. The Clause which it is sought to omit deals with lotteries and prize competitions, and I wish to call attention to the hardships which are imposed in this country by the application of Acts upon a large number of men and women engaged in the amusement and showman's business. On Friday, the Home Secretary listened very patiently to their point of view, and we understood that it was not easy for him at that moment, and may not be to-night, to give a reply which would satisfy them. I feel it to be my duty to add a few words to what I said on Friday, and to read to him a notice which was issued by the Chief Constable of Southport and circulated to people engaged in this particular trade. The notice, which was issued from the Chief Constable's office, Southport, on 11th September this year, reads as follows:It has been reported to me that you keep a place at Pleasureland for the purposes of betting, and that persons resorting thereto bet on a game (or games) shown on the attached list, being a game (or games) in which the successful player receives money or a valuable thing in an event or contingency. I hereby give you notice that should you keep any such place within this county borough of Southport for such purpose on or after the 15th day of September, 1934, I shall take proceedings against you.
§ Sir WILFRID SUGDEN
Will the hon. Gentleman read from the attached list the type of innocent amusements which are prohibited in Southport?
§ Mr. GROVES
I feel sure that the bulk of the Members of the House will be surprised to learn that that action was taken against people who were winning prizes at coconut shies, for taking "a penalty kick," and for playing darts for prizes.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I was rather loth to interrupt the hon. Member, but I am very doubtful whether any of these things of which he is complaining come under the definition of the word "lottery" and under Acts included in the Second Schedule to the Bill.
§ Mr. GROVES
If they were not taboo they would be legal, and therefore the Chief Constable of Southport would not be able to take action.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is undoubtedly the case, but the question before the House is whether these things are lotteries. If they are illegal under any other Section of the various Acts and Statutes, it will be out of order to discuss them on this occasion.
§ Mr. GROVES
I beg respectfully to submit that they come under the category of prize competitions and are therefore affected by Clause 21, and furthermore the question is referred to in Clause 26, because it there says:It shall be unlawful to conduct in or through any newspaper, or in connection with any trade or business or the sale of any article to the public—The submission I made to the Home Office on the Committee stage was that it was very hard for the Chair to decide what degree of skill was required even to remove a coconut, or to win at darts or the small and innocent amusements we see up and down the country to-day. I do not think we in this House in the year 1934 desire to take up a stand that those amusements and fairs are disorderly, and it is because of the hardship imposed on the men and women engaged in the business that I make an appeal to the House. Probably the Solicitor-General may be able to assist me. I am not making this plea in any carping way. The Chief Constables of the country find it difficult to interpret the existing law, and they will find it equally difficult to interpret the provisions of this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. This would be a very easy solution. I do not say that it could be incorporated in the Bill now, but I should be obliged if the Home Secretary would 1818 direct his remarks to the few points that I have put, and so arrange to cover
- (a) any competition in which prizes are offered for forecasts…..
- (b) any other competition success in which does not depend to a substantial degree upon the exercise of skill."any game which means a game or competition at or in which any player or competitor should in any event win any money, or article or thing from any other player or competitor, or any money, article or thing, other than the prize from the persons conducting such game or competition.Further, every competitor should be present at what is called in the Bill a prize competition under Clause 20. My submission to the Home Secretary is that all the cases that I am indicating are circumstances in which every competitor must be present. There is no money prize. People cannot enter by proxy. There can be no profit except to those immediately present. This Bill imposes upon these people, under the penalties of the Bill, hardships which we pointed out during the Committee stage are unwarranted and which I felt that the Home Secretary and his advisers did not desire to impose. Therefore, I would suggest to him that he should give us some light as to what we may do in future, in order that these innocent games and amusements which have prevailed in this country for centuries shall not continue to be harassed by constables, who do not desire unfairly to interpret the law, but who want a clear lead from the Home Secretary and his advisers. If the hon. Gentleman does that he will be pleasing not only me but my friends, and will be providing some assistance for a class of men and women who do not desire to break the law or to contravene the provisions of this Bill, which if passed will impose on a very respectable and orderly portion of the community, hardships which they certainly cannot bear.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Sir A. BUTT
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Willesden West (Mrs. Tate) is not in her place, because I should have liked to have told her that I am not a Liberal, that I am not a Socialist and that I am not a goody-goody, and that in spite of those facts I am from time to time voting with the Government with the rather hopeless desire to improve the Bill. I hope that I shall have an opportunity on Third Reading for criticising the Bill in general. I gather that we are now dealing only with Part II. I rise to deal with the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Amendment before the 1819 House. Their speeches can be divided into two parts, first, their desire that we should have national lotteries and, secondly, their criticism of the apprehension in regard to the Irish Sweepstake. With regard to the demand for a national lottery, I think it is clear from the evidence of other countries, although it may be a coincidence, that in almost every case where countries indulge in national lotteries their prestige and financial stability are very much below those enjoyed in this country. It is curious that the original suggestion to have a national lottery was refused by the hospitals themselves. We are now told that the proceeds of the national lottery should be devoted to cancer research and other very admirable objects. If sums were provided in that way I think that people would lose the habit of giving, and of giving voluntarily, to desirable charities. It is one of the proud boasts of the Britisher that he is allowed to give to the relief of those less fortunate than himself.
§ Sir A. BUTT
I agree that the hon. Member did not propose it, but that was the object put forward by the seconder of the Amendment. On looking at the experience of other countries one finds that if they have national lotteries, whenever the Government want to impose additional taxation their nationals say: "No. We do not want to see any additional taxation. Let us have a lottery." Therefore, the demand for a national lottery is undesirable.
Coming to the question of the Irish Sweepstake, I agree profoundly with everything that the mover of the Amendment said in regard to the comparatively harmless habit—it certainly has become a very general habit—of the people in this country to take a ticket in that sweepstake. I take one myself. I never expect to win a prize, but I always look at the newspapers for the results, to see that if by any good chance I have succeeded. If I did succeed I do not think that it would very much deteriorate my moral character. I look upon the Irish Sweepstake as giving a lot of innocent pleasure to people throughout the country who are not in the habit of gambling, either individually or 1820 collectively, but who take a ticket. If they lose, and obviously a very large majority must lose, it has not done them any great harm, and they have had their modest little flutter. I should have been extremely sorry if the Home Secretary had prohibited an individual from taking tickets in the Irish Sweepstake. Perhaps he is right to tighten up the machinery so that these tickets cannot be offered to people and people be persuaded to buy them. If a person wants a ticket he can take means to obtain it. What I was anxious to point out to the House, and what I have pointed out in all humility to my constituents, is that there is nothing in this Bill to prevent an individual person from taking a ticket in an Irish Sweepstake.
§ Sir A. BUTT
With that I agree. Is it desirable that people should go around factories trying to persuade people to take tickets? If a person is sufficiently interested he can get a ticket. So far as I can see, there is nothing to prevent me writing to the authorities in Ireland, enclosing 10s. and saying: "I want a ticket in the Irish sweep." The Irish people can send me a ticket and as long as I keep it for my individual use and do not attempt to sell it, in part or whole, to anyone else, I am not committing any offence under this Bill. If I am wrong, I hope the Home Secretary will correct me, and if I am right I hope that he will emphasise what I am saying so that there will be no misapprehension in the country. In that case, I hope that we shall hear nothing more about the hardship of preventing people taking a ticket in the Irish sweep, if they so desire.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Sir A. BUTT
I said that I hoped we were not going to hear any more misapprehension or any more misrepresentation on the subject.
§ Mr. PIKE
I hope that we are going to hear something very substantial about 1821 it, because not simply hundreds of thousands but millions of people in this country are very anxious to know whether or not it will be a crime under this Bill to obtain, by whatever means in their power, one or two tickets for their own personal use in the Irish sweepstake to be held next March on the result of the Grand National race at Aintree. It is a very important point, and I hope the Home Secretary will give the House a definite answer on it. So far as I read the Bill, it is absolutely impossible, under Clause 22 (b) even to possess a ticket in the Irish sweepstake, unless you can prove that you neither brought it in nor invited any person to send it into Great Britain for the purpose of sale or distribution. If that is so, then it is illegal to hold tickets in the Irish sweepstake, whether you hold one, a dozen or 100.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
The Clause saysbrings, or invites any person to send into, Great Britain for the purpose of sale or distribution.Does that mean that the person who has received the ticket is not to sell it?
§ Mr. PIKE
The hon. and learned Member has not read paragraph (e) of Clause 22:sends or attempts to send out of Great Britain any money or valuable thing received in respect of the sale or distribution.Let us suppose that a kindly disposed friend says to me: "I cannot sell you this ticket in the Irish Sweepstake, but as long as you will send 10s. to the Hospitals Sweepstakes, Ltd., in Southern Ireland as an acknowledgment for the ticket that you have received from me, you can be the holder of it." The Bill prevents me from sending the money, although it does not prevent me from receiving the ticket. That shows that there is a great deal of misunderstanding on this point. I do not believe that there is an hon. Member competent to answer the question. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is competent to answer it, if not, I hope that he will introduce at the earliest possible opportunity the 1822 highest legal authority, in order that the people of this country may know where they stand. It is a very important issue.
May I refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams)? He referred to the report of the Royal Commission and quoted paragraph 484 as the opinion of the Royal Commission on the question of lotteries. I am convinced that the Royal Comission came to no definite conclusion on the question of lotteries. There are certain conclusions but the more one reads them the more one becomes perplexed as to their meaning. Take paragraph 485:In the first place, so far as we are aware there is no evidence of any sustained demand in this country for tickets in large public lotteries.It immediately leaves it there and goes into a lot of detail about State lotteries brought to an end in 1826, over 100 years ago, and on that basis attempts to justify the first paragraph. I contend that more than ever in the history of this country there is definite evidence that there is a sustained demand for tickets in a lottery. I do not say that there is a sustained demand for a national or State lottery, but I do say that the receipts in respect of lotteries, whether organised at home or abroad, prove conclusively that there is a sustained demand for tickets in lotteries. Two years ago there was a rumour that the Government were going to stop anybody buying tickets in the Irish Sweepstakes, and the automatic result was that the receipts from this country fell considerably, but the moment the people realised that no such action was contemplated, the receipts automatically rose, and last year there was a record in the amount of money received by Dublin Hospitals Sweepstakes, Ltd., from the United Kingdom for tickets. There is no evidence to-day, in spite of what the Royal Commission says, that there is no sustained demand in this country for tickets in large public lotteries. Give the working man a chance to enjoy a chance in the Irish Sweepstakes, free from any possibility of being apprehended by the police or some other Nosey Parker, and you will find that there is a sustained, indeed a growing, demand to participate in these innocent affairs.
The Commission on another point misrepresented the position and misled the right hon. Gentleman. They knew 1823 that he was going to do something about their report; he has said so, and his actions and the proposals of the Government have proved conclusively that they did intend to do something, although they did not tell us what. But the Commission misled the right hon. Gentleman. At the end of paragraph 485 there are the words:The vogue of the Irish sweepstake has been fostered by specially favourable circumstances, and recent figures seem to indicate that its popularity, so far as concerns this country, may already have begun to decline.Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that that is not true. The more the industrial policy of the Government succeeds in placing more men in permanent employment, giving them a regular income, the more we shall see the figure of tickets purchased by Britishers in the Irish sweepstake increased. If the right hon. Gentleman has gone on the evidence of the Commission on this point, he has made a gross mistake. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions which have already been riot to him on this matter. I want to know what is the position of a person in this country who has in his possession any holding in a lottery for the purposes of sale. Who is going to decide what is meant by—the purpose of sale.Who is actually going to lay down the rule which will define the "purpose of sale"? The Bill does not. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that it was obvious that a man who had thousands of tickets was nothing but a distributive agent, and that the tickets were in his possession for the purpose of sale. That is obvious; but the Bill does not say so. At the moment the Bill places everybody in a rather unfortunate predicament. Anybody can be apprehended for having in his possession a ticket or a chance in a lottery, and is to be responsible for proving that the ticket is not for the purpose of sale or distribution. That is interfering with individual and personal liberty beyond anything which anyone could have imagined coming from the present Government. I want to know what is a chance. The word "hance" is often referred to in the Bill, but there must be some peculiar association unknown to some of us in regard to this word. If my friend in 1824 Southern Ireland writes to me and says: "Dear Pike, re the Christmas pudding which I sent to you last Thursday. There are 24 currants in the top end, two currants on either side, and 20 currants on the bottom." Who is to say that that is not a chance? Who is going to say that there does not exist in that letter an intimation to me that I possess a chance in a lottery?
What is a chance? We want to know. I desire to enforce this point because it is important, and we shall have to ask the Home Secretary for an answer if it keeps him up until 20 minutes past seven in the morning. If I purchase a ticket in a sweepstake am I purchasing a chance If I buy a ticket in the Irish Sweepstake, have I bought a chance? Does it constitute a chance within the meaning of the Bill? Is it intended to mean that any person purchasing a ticket is purchasing a chance, and, therefore is guilty of a contravention of the Bill? How much longer have we to appeal to the Home Secretary for a complete definition of what the Bill does? I have asked many questions and I shall still have to ask them. Am I to ask in vain? Have I got the chance of an answer?
Let me go a little further. The Bill deals with the question of publication. There is the phrase:or prints, publishes, or distributes, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication or distribution, any advertisement of the lottery or any matter descriptive of the drawing or intended drawing of the lottery.I want to know exactly what that means. I put myself in the position of an ordinary Press reporter. My departmental manager, in other words the chief reporter, sends me to report details of a certain meeting convened in Soho, the details of which I learn when I get there. The meeting is for the purpose of organising the sale or distribution of lottery tickets, which constitute a contravention of the Bill. The chairman is a kind man, he gives me a little credit for intelligence—
§ Mr. PIKE
That is more than the Noble Lady gives to anybody but herself. He gives me a little credit for intelligence and hands me a copy of the agenda of the meeting. I make a few notes for the purpose of performing my 1825 function to my departmental manager. On my way back to the office I am apprehended by a policeman. He takes from me the agenda of the meeting which deals with a matter which is a contravention of the Bill, and also takes from me my own conception of the agenda which I propose to suggest should be published as a special piece of news in respect of the meeting. Am I guilty of a contravention of the Bill because I have in my possession for the purpose of publication and distribution matters appertaining to the advertisement of the lottery? Will that be a piece of news or a contravention of the Bill? I want to know whether I, a poor humble reporter, a pawn in the hands of my principal, am to be considered the guilty party or whether the person who sent me there will be considered to be the guilty person? These are questions which the public will ask and to which they are entitled to an answer.
I go a little further. We asked the other night what was the position of advertisements over the air in respect of lotteries. What has the right hon. Gentleman done about it? I have looked through all his Amendments, and I can find nothing. Is it to be a crime to broadcast from Luxemburg the details of any foreign lottery which will save any London or provincial papers publishing the details? We asked a question the other night and pressed for an answer. The right hon. Gentleman said he would give reconsideration to it. I have looked anxiously through the Amendments for this reconsideration, but it is not there. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that by this pernicious attempt to suppress the Press of this country in these matters he is going to suppress the distribution of news or of advertisements relating to a lottery or sweepstake? He knows that every Sunday afternoon at two o'clock you have only to press a button and every person who desires the information will get it, and it is possible that the information will be distributed to British listeners through the mouthpiece of a notability of this country. What is the Home Secretary going to do against these people who by such devious routes will violate the Bill, which he proposes to make applicable to every respectable newspaper and newsvendor in this country? These are important questions, whether 1826 the Home Office thinks they are important or not.
Hon. Members opposite, like Members of the Conservative party, know the value of broadcasting. We knew it at the last General Election. The Labour party have known it since, and to such an extent that when they have been invited they have always taken advantage of the invitation. If advertisement over the broadcast is worth while for political purposes, it is obviously one of the finest advertising media for any business proposition. I want to have an answer as to the reconsideration of this matter which the right hon. Gentleman promised us on Thursday last. Does Sub-section (1, b) of Clause 22 cover the right hon. Gentleman in respect of anyone attempting to broadcast these advertisements by wireless?
There is another point. The right hon. Gentleman is introducing a lottery in Part I of this Bill, for, whatever we may think, a bet on a tote is just as big a chance and just as big a share in a lottery as the purchase of a ticket in the Irish Free State Sweepstake. We never know what the price is going to be until the 6 per cent. rake-off has been taken. What is the difference between the two things? The question of what shall be the price is just as much a lottery. What is good enough for Part I of the Bill should surely be good enough for Part II. I do not see any difference between them in so far as they are to affect the morals of the people. Sub-section (2, a) of Clause 23 contains these words:(2) The conditions referred to in the preceding Sub-section are that—(a) the whole proceeds of the entertainment (including the proceeds of the lottery) after deducting the expenses of the entertainment, excluding all expenses incurred in connection with the lottery other than expenses incurred in printing tickets, shall be devoted to purposes other than private gain.I notice that the Home Secretary has on the Paper an Amendment to this Clause, in page 22, line 30, to leave out from "deducting," to "shall," in line 33, and to insert—
The condition is that none of the money arising from such a lottery is for private gain. I would ask a question in regard to Conservative clubs. They are largely owned by limited companies. Any hon. Member can see in his division notices such as "— Conservative Club, Limited." What does that mean? It means that the directors of that club are definitely and directly financially interested in the welfare of the club in so far as they have special share capital holdings. If a lottery is organised under Clause 23 for any club of that kind, I want to know whether the profits that would accrue from that lottery are to be allowed to go into the pockets of the directors of that club as shareholders. Suppose that the lottery is organised for the benefit of the club and the club represents their capital holdings, under the Bill the profits must go into the pockets of those private holders. We cannot have it both ways. The Bill has either to say that the private holders of capital in clubs shall not be entitled to take the proceeds of a lottery or that they shall be entitled. I want to know which way the Home Secretary is going to decide.
- (i) the expenses of the entertainment, excluding expenses incurred in connection with the lottery; and
- (ii) the expenses incurred in printing tickets in the lottery; and
- (iii) such sum (if any) not exceeding ten pounds as the promoters of the lottery think
1827 fit to appropriate on account of any expense incurred by them in purchasing prizes in the lottery.
Many other hon. Members want to speak and I shall not detain the House much longer. In support of my long speech I must say that I have sat here practically every minute that the Bill has been before the House. There were 10 sittings of the Committee upstairs and there have been the sittings here. I do not believe I have missed more than 10 minutes, when I have snatched a little refreshment. There is another Clause which is going to be very difficult to work. Clause 24 says it will not be illegal to post or exhibit notices relating to a lottery on the premises or in the institution for which that sweep or lottery is organised. Any Member of that institution or organisation can be a shareholder in that lottery. A trade union is a very big organisation. Suppose it is a bricklayer's union and that his branch is in Balham, and it is discovered that there is no way of informing him that there is a sweep going on in his branch at Balham other than by sending notice of the sweep by advertis- 1828 ing it on a building in Glasgow upon which he is laying bricks. Would it be illegal for that notice to be posted in Glasgow? My interpretation has not gone too far. There are so many weaknesses in this Bill that we ask the Home Secretary to be so kind as to give us to-night this information, not for our own sakes but in order that clarity of view may be the possession of the whole of the community as to the effects of the Bill when it is in operation.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I shall not speak long, for I know that many want to take part in the Debate, and in the hope that I may have a chance later on the Third Reading for saying something on the general aspect of the Bill, I propose to confine myself now to the question of lotteries. I said last week, when talking upon this subject, that we were dealing with an old matter. Let me quote what was said by a very famous author who certainly was not a kill-joy, as the hon. Lady who spoke just now would infer that all the opponents of lotteries are. This is what was written by Henry Fielding, who spoke with some experience:A lottery is a taxation,Upon all the fools in creationAnd, Heaven be praised!It is easily raised.Credulity's always in fashion,For Folly's a Fund,Will never lose ground,While fools are so rife in the nation.I do not give that as my opinion. It is remarkable that that should have been written by one of the most prominent of our writers, who knew from personal experience just what lotteries were in his time. When the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) spoke upon this subject at Bristol his resolution was carried. That is understandable, for when he speaks in this House he generally carries me with him. I can understand that his resolution was very easily carried, but I do not think he would suggest that we should be influenced by the vote of an outside association. He said in the course of his remarks that at the last election the people of this country voted overwhelmingly for Conservatives. That was probably true. But a lot of Liberals took part in those votes that returned Conservatives to this House, and I can assure the hon. Member that there 1829 might have been a somewhat different result if as part of the appeal of the Government it had been made clear that one of the first things they intended to do when in power was to establish State lotteries in this country. A great many votes that were given by Liberals on that occasion might not then have gone in the same direction.
The hon. Member repeated what has been said by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), that we Liberals have some special responsibility in relation to this Bill. We have been accused all along. It was suggested last night that we were delighting in the possible ruin of the Government over this Measure, that we were always designing this attack upon the Government. There are others who say that we are virtually the authors of the Bill, and to-day the hon. Member said that we were conducting the Government. Of course, as a small party we have to put up with these gibes. Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. There is not the slightest ground for these suggestions. Our position was made as clear as possible on the Second Reading of the Bill. It was that this was not our Bill, that we did not like many parts of it, and that if we had been responsible for its introduction it would have been in another form, but that in so far as it did carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission it deserved and would get our support. That promise we have faithfully kept. By our close attention to the Debates and by our votes we have carried out what was our plain declaration on a Bill that apparently carried so much support en Second Reading that no one went into the Lobby against it.
The hon. Member repeated to-day an argument that he used the other night, and I do not want to repeat the answer. But I would call attention to what the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has mentioned, that the Members of the Royal Commission have told us in terms that they approached this question of lotteries almost with the intention of advising some alterations in the law. It is very remarkable that they should say so. They were not content to make their recommendations, not content to make their comment on lotteries; but they told the Members of the House that virtually they had changed their minds 1830 as a result of the investigations that they had made. Upon this Amendment no one ought to cast a vote unless lie has read very carefully the comment that the Commissioners make upon the danger of lotteries. As far as demand is concerned, the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike) says that as a result of the experience with the Irish Sweepstsake there is all the evidence of demand. The demand, we suggest, has been provoked. Very often a demand does not exist until it is provoked.
Does anyone suggest that, 10 years ago, before the Irish Sweepstake authorities started upon this policy, there was a. demand in this country, that the people of this country were dissatisfied because of a demand that could not be gratified? The demand has grown because the conditions have been created, because allurements have been put out and those allurements have been put out by those who want to get financial advantages. Even that scheme would have no prospect of success. were it not for the immense sums which go in expenses and in the collection of subscribers throughout the country. Everyone knows that in association even with that sweepstake, there are all the possibilities of considerable fraud. It is the old danger that we have met in this country before. I know that I am speaking for a minority upon this matter in this House. I take this side because I think the State has no right to give its imprimatur to something to which a large part of the people take serious objection.
§ Mr. FOOT
The hon. Member knows very little of my local circumstances. He has generously suggested that I am angry when I see anyone interested in sport of any kind—a remark which, I may say in passing, is just nonsense. Any person acquainted with the circumstances of the neighbourhood in which I live will know that I am very much interested in the sport of the people. I love to see the people taking a full share in wholesome sport, and one reason why I am against this evil is because, on the authority of those responsible for the organisation of sport in this country, it is an evil which poisons every sport it touches.
§ Mr. FOOT
The suggestion that if I saw people interested in sport I felt bound to interfere with them shows the depths to which people have to resort in trying to attack those who are supporting this Measure. Leaving that matter on one side, however, I suggest that there are many in this country who regard this as a growing evil. We may be wrong, but there are many of us. We are not as vocal as the vested interests but the Home Secretary knows that throughout this controversy there have been behind him great forces in this country representing the churches. They, after all, have some right to speak. They have watched this matter closely and have made their representations openly in one of the Committee rooms upstairs when every Member had the opportunity of hearing what they had to say. Whether you agree with them or not, they represent a large part of the life of the people and they regard this, as all who have gone into the question regard it, as a grave and growing social menace.
If as a result of Government action, you did establish a State lottery, I say you would have garbed that evil in the livery of the State and it is to that proposal that we take objection. If you propose to take that course it should only be done after you have consulted the people upon it. No one can suggest that at the time of the national crisis in August and September, 1931, the slightest hint or mention was made of any possibility of that kind. We are assumed in this House to be wrong but, as I say, we represent very many outside. If the Government in this matter, yielding to the appeals which have been made to them, took a step which for the first time in a hundred years gave the nation's imprimatur to schemes of this kind and gave them the dignity of national sanction, the indignation that would be expressed would surprise Members of the House who think that they only are entitled to speak for the people of the country. There are many in the constituency of the hon. Member opposite who would agree with my view and not with his. Indeed there is no constituency where he will not find those who would accept my view rather than his and you have no right to override their desire.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I never suggested over-riding the hon. Member or his 1832 friends. What I said was that a national lottery was open to none of the objections which he urged about exploitation for private gain. Neither he nor any of his friends would be compelled to take tickets in such a lottery if they did not want to do so. Those who wanted to do so would be able to take tickets. We respect the hon. Member's opinions.
§ Mr. FOOT
I return to my argument. I say that there are many in the hon. Member's constituency associated with the best life in his constituency, and with the most wholesome movements in his constituency, who would regard it as intolerable if a majority, secured as the result of the financial crisis, were to be used to undo in part what has been established for 100 years. They would regard it as intolerable if that majority were used to give national sanction to what they regard as an evil which ought not to be sanctioned but ought to be fought, in the interests not of a few here and there but in the interests of many in this land—an evil that ought to be redressed as far as it can be redressed. I do not want to be dragged into a discussion here on the general question of liberty. That can probably be discussed at a later stage. I take the broad issue suggested by the hon. Member opposite, and I say that the Government in this matter are interpreting the wish of what I regard as the best part of the life of the nation. Whether it is the majority or not I cannot say, but 'it is a large part of the life of the nation. So far from limiting the evil, national sanction would tend to extend it, and I shall stand in this House in favour not of extending it, hut, as far as possible, limiting it.
§ 6.37 p. m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
We are fortunate that through the flexible procedure of the House of Commons and through the interpretation which you, Sir, and the House have given to our Rules, it has been found possible upon this occasion to secure a Debate upon the issues raised in a vital portion of this Bill, and to secure that Debate during the afternoon, when it can be followed by the country. That, I think, is very satisfactory. We shall, I trust, have as long as possible, up to the time when we hope to be able to dispose of the remaining Amendments before we devote ourselves to the renewal of general discussion upon the Third Reading. In the course of this 1833 Debate not the least interesting feature has been the chastened attitude of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). Only a few days ago he was here as a tyrant. Now he is apologising, I will not say for his existence, but for his general attitude, and is most anxious to persuade us that really he is no killjoy or spoil-sport.
It very often happens that a man who, in his public life, adopts the most sour and stern and drab principles and colours, at home or in private circles is an unfailing fountain of gaiety and good fellowship, and that I have no doubt is the case with the hon. Gentleman, once he feels that he has discharged his public duty of making himself as disagreeable to his fellow mortals as he possibly can. I think I noticed that some of the criticisms which have been levelled at him from this side had made an impression upon the hon. Gentleman's inner consciousness, and I do not think that he will ever again feel entitled to speak with the same freedom and confidence in the cause of liberty after the impression which undoubtedly has been established of the truth of his position, namely, that he is in favour of everyone having the opportunity to do anything of which he does not disapprove.
The Home Secretary had also emerged from this controversy with a mingled record. Certainly, I cannot retract any of the criticisms which I have made about the manner in which he has used the force of his majority and the exigencies of time to drive this Measure through the House. Also I must say that there is so much trick work in the articulation of this Bill that it is difficult to reconcile it with the candid open character of the right hon. Gentleman. The way in which one part of the Bill has been dealt with by a different procedure from other parts, the way in which the time factor has been made to work to procure decisions before they have been given that discussion which the House would like to give them, and the way in which this suggestion, the very reasonable suggestion, of an anti-Irish problem has been made to serve the cause of anti-gambling—all this argues an amount of finesse and calculation which one hoped were foreign to the character of a Minister whose simplicity and uprightness have always endeared him to the House, and especially to those 1834 who know him best. But I will say that the good temper shown by the Government and their supporters in these long Debates has been quite exceptional in my experience of the House on these occasions. I trust that it will continue as long as we have to enter into clashes upon these proposals.
Let us see what is the main criticism that can be levelled at Clause 21 and Part II of the Bill? It seems to me that the Government had two courses regular anti-gambling Bill and courageo open to them. One was to introduce a regular anti-gambling Bill and courageously to face the unpopularity which would attach to it, to attack as boldly as they possibly could—we know that there are lengths to which one could not go—all the evils of gambling and particularly the worst and most injurious forms which gambling takes. If they had done that, they would have established a moral case to come forward and say, "We must carry out Part II otherwise we should stultify the dignity, the consistency, the integrity of the work we have already done." They would have been able to say "It is true that we are going to make new crimes, to put men in prison, to inflict heavy fines, and to impose many restrictions otn liberty, but we are doing so from motives of high conscientious conviction. Our loathing and detestation of the crime and the vice of gambling, our deep realisation of the miseries and ruin which it causes in so many homes have hardened our hearts, and just as we are feeling these strong, poignant emotions ourselves, so we are entitled to lay the lash upon the shoulders of the delinquents who fail to conform to our standards." But nothing of that kind is open to my right hon. Friend to-night.
He had that course and he had another course which was, frankly, to recognise that there are many features of gambling and betting which have grown up in the life of the nation and which no Government and no series of Governments will be able to eradicate. These have taken new forms and have acquired vested interests and voting strength, and they cannot be dealt with, and nobody wishes them to be dealt with, in a rough and ruthless manner. But if the Home Secretary accepts that view as the view which animated him in Part I, then certainly 1835 he has no right to come forward and to take this highly austere and would-be imposing attitude of superiority, of moral rectitude or correctitude, and to say that anyone who ever held responsible office in this country could associate himself with the idea of a public lottery being allowed in this land, passed his comprehension. Any crimes which can be laid to my charge in that matter are the most innocent peccadilloes compared with the mass of shocking faults and abuses of which the right hon. Gentleman has made himself the perpetrator.
This Bill consists, in the first place, of what I shall call "the charter of the dog totes and the football pools;" the second part is the high morality recovery of banning anything in the nature of a large sweepstake while providing conveniently for the small ones; and the third part is the pains and penalties and restrictions on liberty indispensable to Part II. Of these three, the first, I say frankly, is rather disreputable, the second is evidently hypocritical, and the third, I believe, will be largely futile. It seems to me that it would not have been at all a bad plan for us to have set up three or four large British national sweepstakes in this country each year, under some body like the stewards of the Jockey Club, independent and regulated, which would in a moment have blotted out all foreign competition in this matter and solved all the problems of people sending money out of the country, and which would, I believe, have met the wishes of the great majority of the people of this country and would, I further believe, have done them no harm. I agree with what the hon. Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate) said, that the fact that a man has a lottery ticket or a share in a lottery ticket cannot do him very much harm. It only happens a few times a year, and it enables his mind, in the toil and monotony of life, to rest occasionally in the mere contemplation and the excitement and pleasure of the hope of a fortune coming to him. At any rate, it is not comparable in its evils to the evils which we are definitely sheltering and legislating for and establishing on a new modern legislative basis in Part I of this Bill.
It seems to me also that the true opinion of the House was probably expressed very fairly, very frankly, when 1836 my hon. Friend two years ago obtained leave, under the Ten Minutes Rule, to introduce a Bill setting up national lotteries in England. He tells me—I have not verified the figures myself—that 176 Members voted for it and only, I think, about 120 against, so that it was a fairly full House, fuller, at any rate, than we have had in many of these discussions. That, you see, was the true and honest opinion of the House. I agree that you may say that a First Reading Division usually comes to nothing, but, if there was this moral stigma, if it was so horrible, the unclean thing, with the sort of sense of evil surrounding it from which the hon. Member has always made it his first duty in life to flee, if it really was instinct with this vice, how was it that so many hon. Members were prepared to entertain the discussion and voted on a Division for the introduction of such a Bill?
Here I come to the case of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Patronage Secretary. Here is where he comes on the boards. I remember quite well that occasion. I think we walked through the Lobby together, almost arm in arm. Well, my right hon. and gallant Friend has been converted. He has seen the light in time. He is, as it were, a brand snatched from the burning, nor as was said of the illustrious trimmer, the great Lord Halifax, by Dryden:Nor changed alone, but turned the balance too,So much the wit of one brave man can do.I must say that I believe that Part II of this Measure will be found very largely unenforceable, and it will certainly breed a great deal of resentment. People have written to me to say that they have never taken a ticket in a lottery and that they will now endeavour to do so. A new kind of warfare, an artificial, unnecessary warfare, will be set on foot in the bosom of our anxious and harried land between the persons who wish to assert what they think are their rights to take part in a sweepstake, even though it be a large one, instead of confining themselves to the small ones of which the Home Secretary approves, and the agents of the Home Secretary, working through the law and under the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General. That war is going to take the form of an immense amount of evasion and subterfuge, of a great many 1837 regrettable practices on the one hand, and on the other the right hon. Gentleman advances in all the panoply and with all the batteries of the law upon these evildoers of a minor kind.
These unfortunate delinquents will be pursued by every means. First of all, we are to rummage the mails. There must be almost continuous rummaging of His Majesty's mails, and this is a very serious thing. There are certain reasons of State and reasons connected with the administration of criminal justice which may occasionally authorise a Minister to take advantage of the fact that when letters are in the Post Office they are His Majesty's property for the time being, but with that principle used on a large scale, in scores of thousands of cases, to tamper with the privacy of the correspondence of people in this country, many letters being opened without the need —for to catch one, you must open many —is a very great abuse. At the present time, when we have a good constitutional system in this country, when, whether the party opposite is in power or this party is in power, no one feels that the sort of things are going to be done in this country that are habitually done all over the world to the citizens of many other countries, namely, every form of espionage and intrigue, I assert that it is the most serious disadvantage inherent in Part II of this Bill that there should be this rummaging of the mails and tampering with private correspondence for what I consider, and what nine men out of 10 in this House and this country consider, a very trivial matter.
The right hon. Gentleman is to search the homes. He has the right to enter the homes on a new pretext. It is this Part II that makes it necessary particularly, or certainly as much as Part I, and we discussed yesterday how great an evil and injury that was. I am delighted that the opinion has been so strongly expressed on this side that one of our great duties is to limit the intrusions upon the home and very strictly to guard the ordinary, plain people of this country from anything like contact with police officers. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would not mind if a warrant to search his house were issued. I do not believe it. He does not mind a friendly constable coming to his door to make sure that he has renewed his game licence or with any other inquiry con- 1838 netted with his motor car or something like that—a perfectly friendly transaction—but suppose he was out of the Government and was even in great hostility to the Government, and found that he was no longer respected as he is in the great position which he holds, but that a warrant had been issued to search his house, and he had to submit to the searching of all his boxes and every cabinet and cupboard in the whole place, and explain to a constable, on the warrant merely of a magistrate, because, forsooth, it was alleged—and it might only be alleged; it might be a mere pretext under a bad administration—that he, falling away from the high principles with which we are familiar in these Debates, had taken part in selling a few tickets in a sweepstake, I think he would be very much annoyed indeed.
Lastly, there is the question of the censorship of the Press. To the rummaging of the mails, to the intrusions in the home, is added the censorship of the Press. Obviously that is a big step, and if you are going to try to deal with this problem, I feel that the publication of the lists of winners and so forth is necessary. There is an Amendment on the Paper, which we shall reach presently, which seeks to provide for the Irish papers and papers printed on the Continent, but it certainly in no way stops the loophole to which I drew attention. These papers have great circulations. They undoubtedly can and will be brought in and will gain over the English Press, their English rivals, by the fact that they will contain this news. Then there is the question of the broadcast referred to by my hon. Friend, about which no answer has been given. A gentleman, a correspondent, has written to me, since these Debates began, showing me a scheme by which I can well imagine, without the slightest breach of the law under this Act, it would be possible to frustrate to a very large extent the purpose of the Home Secretary, but I am not going to reveal it. I am going so far to act with him and to leave such matters to work themselves out. But, believe me, all over the place thousands of cunning brains will set to work to see how they can steer their way through this legislation, and as long as you have not got the conscience of the people on your side, you will find, in 1839 these venial matters, that it is very difficult to enforce strict obedience.
Then an hon. Friend of mine not now in his place, the hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham (Mr. O'Connor), suggested to the Government that a much better way would be to say that you would take all the winnings by law, a 100 per cent, tax on the winnings of anybody who entered a sweep. As far as I can make out, that would only make sure that all the money went out of the country, because a man who won, with a 10s. ticket, £10,000 or £20,000 would probably just go abroad to spend it until the hue and cry had died down. Therefore, I cannot see that from any point of view the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to enforce this legislation. In spite of endless friction an enormous amount of breaches of the law would occur, not only to the detriment of this Bill, but to the detriment of the general respect for law and obedience to law which have been the characteristic of the English people, in such marked contradiction to the state of things which has occurred in some transatlantic countries with which the Noble Lady opposite is so well acquainted. I must, however, say this, because we have to face a serious issue, that I hope that the resentment which this Bill will create will not induce people to endeavour to frustrate the intentions of Parlialiament, because undoubtedly it is an evil that money should be sent to the Dublin sweepstake and out of the country in large quantities.
Why are we put in that dilemma? How much better it would have been to handle Part II on lines of principle in accordance with Part I. How much better it would have been to provide a lightning conductor of a few sweepstakes, which would have relieved you from the whole of your troubles. Even now why not drop Part II? When we cannot compel you by any resistance in the House, believe me it is enormously to the interest of the Government that they should do that. If Part II were dropped, a Bill could be introduced, preferably by a private Member, which with the assistance of the Government would place this matter in a situation in which it would meet the wishes and desires of the country. In the case of the old parable of the sun and the north wind, when the north wind 1840 blew the young man pulled his coat more tightly about him, but when the genial sun came out he cast it from him; when the genial sun of commonsense comes out the cloak of subterfuge can be cast away. The Government would achieve a real diminution of gambling if they adopted that course. When we ask the Home Secretary to do this, he replies that they have made up their minds to do this because they are going to do it. Might we not learn some of the springs of thought that have led to this process, which have led to the thought—"This is our view, and we are going to stick to it." If you look at this Bill, the kind of gambling that is allowed is decided on the caprice of the Home Secretary, not on commonsense. They say, "We will allow this and not allow that. This is a shocking crime and from this—which is the same thing—we will take a. rake-off and also have a profit from Income Tax." There is no principle in this, no reason given. The Home Secretary has decided on an act of power—not reason. The German Emperor at the Royal Proclamation at Munich said:Hoc volo, sic jubeo; sit pro ratione voluntas.which, for the benefit of the Treasury Bench I will translate, having, for greater security, brushed up my knowledge on the subject, "So I will, so I order; let my will stand for a reason."
It is not quite the way the House likes to be treated, and because of that some of the friction that has been expressed in a courteous manner has arisen. When I come to look at this Bill I must say it conforms to no principle either of policy or of morals. The morals of Part I are entirely different from those of Part II, and the policy of the Bill as a whole is most detrimental. As to the row of able men on that bench who are never tired of telling us how vital they are to the country, that they should continue to guard and guide our course, nothing could be more unfortunate for the National Government that that two Bills should occupy us all this time, on one of which we are going to vote to-night. One Bill will dismiss thousands of Liberals to their old allegiance. Undoubtedly this one will cause widespread discontent, certainly resentment and scorn among the working-class supporters of the Conservative party.
1841 We are now going to divide upon Clause 21. Many of us are going to vote against it. Nobody must vote against Clause 21 under any illusion of what that vote means. It is no use concealing the fact that if defeated it will destroy Part II of the Bill. A vote against Clause 21 is equivalent to the omission of Part II of the Bill, although technically expressed in a different form. I shall give my vote for the Amendment for that very reason, in the hope that in the near future there will be national sweepstakes Lander proper safeguards, and that they will be authorised by Parliament, and that all this detestable apparatus of restriction and penalties for new and minor offences will pass away from us like the fogs that sometimes afflict us in November.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I hope the House will sympathise with me in the difficult task of following the right hon. Gentleman. I have listened to all the Debates on this Bill from the first day in Committee upstairs. If the right hon. Gentleman does not mind my saying so, he has taunted us on this side of the House on more than one occasion with the accusation that we have saved the Government from defeat on this Bill. I speak for myself and say frankly that in all proceedings on this Bill I have had to choose between two evils—the evil National Government and that of the right hon. Gentleman and his followers. When I have to choose between the present Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman, I always plump for the Secretary of State, because on this issue I think he speaks the mind of the people of this country very much more correctly than the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. baronet referred to a Resolution at the Tory Conference as the voice of the people.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Dukes, duchesses and knights just meet at Tory Conferences together and, in the main, represent nobody but themselves. They pass Resolutions almost unanimously, and then go for a good dinner. And they think they represent the mind of the people. Let me turn for a moment to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He 1842 has told us that the House of Commons ought to be consistent, because it gave a First Reading to a Bill to legalise lotteries proposed some time ago. Nobody knows better than he that when an hon. Member introduces a Bill the House by courtesy, whether they agree with it or not, vote for it.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The practice of the House is very often to agree to the introduction of a Bill. When there is a Division on a Bill then those who agree with the principle vote for it, and those who do not vote against it.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am under the impression that when a Bill is introduced in the manner in which the hon. Member brought in his Measure Members vote for the Bill to see what it contains. It is no use using that argument. The right hon. Member wants to establish in this country three or four national sweepstakes a year. If he does not mind my being frank I have listened with interest to his speeches in this House for 13 years and I remember him as a Liberal candidate for one of the divisions of Manchester. I then went to hear him speak. He taunts the Patronage Secretary with changing his mind. Who is there in British politics who has changed his mind more often than the right hon. Gentleman? When he talks of liberty that word above all should not fall from his mouth. In 1911 he sent a battalion of soldiers to the Rhondda Valley and showed the colliers there what liberty meant. He would do it again, and then use the plea, of liberty for the working class in this connection. Nobody has done more against the working class, and he is only using them now for his own argument. He taunted the hon. Member below the Gangway with being a killjoy. I am not a killjoy, but I will tell him what has made me sad. In the city where I live a small shopkeeper won some time ago £2,000 or £3,000 in a sweepstake. In 15 months he was in a workhouse having spent the whole on drink, and died a raving lunatic. Let me ask, therefore, are we not entitled on occasions to take heed of that sort of thing?
The right hon. Gentleman has occupied nearly all the great posts of State with eminence. I pay him tribute, though I do not agree with him. He is one of the most brilliant orators I have heard. For a man of his eminence, standing as he 1843 does at the top of the political scale, to descend to this problem of petty sweepstakes is soiling and besmirching his political reputation. I have been astonished at his attitude. He taunted an hon. Member with softening his argument, with coming to reason, and then spoke of the able men on the Treasury Bench. I heard his words last evening; they were not quite so pleasant and courteous.
Let me now deal with one or two, of the arguments of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), who compared the enforcement of law in this country with what is happening in America. I think I can appeal to his intelligence when I say that the administration of any law in America is a different proposition from the administration of law in this country.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I do not want to be misquoted. I did not compare the adminstration of the law. I said if you attempted prohibition in this country you would have happening here precisely the same thing that happened in America
§ Mr. DAVIES
That is exactly what I was corning to. I have been in the United States on two occasions and have tried to look at their problems. The mere fact that every nationality in the world and every race and creed is to be found within the United States while here we are men and women of the same stock makes a comparison between respect for the law in America and here impossible.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
We have the law broken in this country in every street and constituency now in respect of street betting.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The hon. Gentleman must not try and divert my argument. Let me give an illustration I have used before. The argument is that what `gas failed in America must of necessity fail here. I deny that argument. The city of Chicago has a population of 2,500,000, while we have 42,000,000. The number of murders in Chicago in 1927 was exactly the same as the number for the whole of this country. The conditions in the two countries are altogether different and comparisons will not hold good.
An hon. Lady who is not in her seat at the moment put up an amazing argu- 1844 ment. She rather surprised me when she said that the Government ought to have brought forward a bold and courageous Bill to deal with gambling root and branch. Almost in the same sentence she asked, in view of the dull and drab life of the working classes, what was wrong with a little flutter now and then? I am not so much opposed to a man betting if he can afford to. I object, however, as I have said on many occasions, to a group of people living in luxury as parasites by exploiting the weaknesses of their fellows. Everybody who has been in the House during the last 10 years has helped to establish the several social services, of which we are all proud. There is probably nothing equal to it in any country of the world—unemployment insurance, pensions, health insurance benefits and the rest of it. We now find groups of people doing all they can to get sixpences and shillings from the poor. Knowing that the man who is drawing unemployment benefit is depressed, they devise their schemes in order to secure moneys received from the social services. I object to people living in luxury on the sixpences and shillings that come from the homes of men receiving these social benefits when that money would be much better spent on food and clothing for their children. On that score, I say that I am literally ashamed of the right hon. Gentleman coming here to plead for lotteries as he has done this evening.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to what we are debating'? Is it the Clause or the general question raised in the Bill? I have listened to most of the speeches and I am not sure whether it is the Clause or the Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Debate is on Part II of the Bill. References have been made to other parts of the Bill in Rome of the speeches, but the general -Debate has been on Part II
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Gilmour)
Whatever views we hold on this problem, the House is grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for giving the Ruling you did in order that a wide discussion might take place upon this Clause. It 1845 is evident from the Debate that there are people, both in the House and outside, who take widely divergent views about this problem. It is unnecessary to argue, and, indeed, I do not think it is an argument which one can make, that there is any difference between the wealthy person and the working man, who may both take the same point of view. There are others, who may be wealthy or workers, who may take the opposite view. As I understand from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), this is a direct challenge to the whole of Part II of the Bill. Of course, he well knows that if the Amendment were carried it would mean the finish, not only of Part II, but of the Bill as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]
People have asked me what it was that induced the Government to Ouch so thorny a subject and so difficult a problem. The answer is, I think, very clear. What was it that public opinion brought into being? Public opinion so worked upon Members of this House and those responsible for the Government that a Royal Commission was appointed. We may differ as to the wisdom or lack of wisdom in giving way to that feeling, but that that feeling did exist, that that anxiety was apparent, that it was represented, not from one source, but from to infinity of sources in this country, is indisputable. What ought the Government to do when they have received the report of a Royal Commission, which has sat for a considerable period of time. which has taken evidence, not from one class of persons, but from all kinds of people, and which has made certain recommendations. The Government, of course, could have utterly ignored it, but anybody who knows the circumstances of government and the responsibilities of the Government knows that it is very unusual on a subject of this kind which has moved this House for the Government to neglect to take some action.
We have framed this Bill, and particularly Part II, with one object. It was not done in the spirit of killjoy. It was in order to clarify, if we can, some of the problems dealing with lotteries and betting in this country. Under the existing law, as everybody who has studied the problem knows, it is illegal to have lotteries in this country. The modest sweepstake which trade unions 1846 or Conservative clubs have been in the habit of conducting are illegal and are liable to have action taken against them under the existing law. It is true that, having considered the report of the Commission, the Government decided—and, as I have argued, in my judgment rightly—that large State lotteries are not desirable either from the point of view of the credit and the financial position of this country, or from the fact that they lead to exploitation and to circumstances in which no Government which has regard for its position and its responsibilities will take any part or share.
On the contrary side of the sheet are lotteries and sweepstakes and draws in clubs, trade unions and bazaars. We are, in Part II of the Bill, regularising under certain restrictions certain things which up to now have been illegal. If one were to listen to some of the representations which have been made from such quarters as were referred to by the hon. Baronet to-day and by those who spoke for some sections of the clubs, one would suppose that nothing was being done to legalise what they are doing illegally today. It is right that the House should understand what, in fact, we are doing in this matter. I have been asked some questions by certain hon. Members with regard to the position of a man if he were to send 10s. across to Ireland for a ticket in the Irish Sweepstake. As we have framed this Bill, the whole scheme is to attack the seller or the agent in this country. As I am advised, what is made an offence under Part II is broadly the sale or distribution in this country, and it does not make it an offence to send 10s. to Dublin for a ticket for the man himself. If, on the other hand, that individual sells, or hands money to other people for the purpose of purchase, that is quite another matter.
I have been asked what "a chance" means. This phraseology has been used in legislation for a long period. Broadly speaking, I will put it in this way. There may be tickets in most of these lotteries, but there are some lotteries and sweepstakes in clubs where no ticket passes. The name is written upon some form: That is a chance and so long as that is used in a club or trade union it is legalised under this Bill. Reference has been made to the fact that people may not send information about a draw which takes place in sonic English town in 1847 connection with a trade union to, say, Glasgow. Of course to do that would cut across the whole principle of this Measure. It is because we will not have a universal sweepstake throughout the country that we will not interfere with the modest sweepstake in an area for a purpose which is not for personal gain.
This Debate has raised a good many problems. It is asserted that the Bill is badly constructed. If that be so, why is there all this indignation and anxiety? If it will not work why all this fuss? It is the intention of the draftsmen and the Government that it should work. It would indeed be a calamity, and would stultify the action of this House, if, after this Measure had been given a Second Reading with a Division and certain decisions had been come to after its detailed consideration in Committee, the intentions of Parliament were not carried out.
This is an attempt to deal, admittedly, with a portion only of a very large problem, leaving out off-the-course betting. It is devised in no grandmotherly spirit, and with no desire to prevent the honest man or woman who desires to "have a flutter," who wants to have, in a phrase which has been so often used, "a bob upon a horse" or a greyhound, from doing so; but it does attack, and I trust will make things more difficult for, those people who exploit sweepstakes to rob the people. Throughout the proceedings in Committee upstairs and on the Floor of the House claims have been put forward which the Government have not felt able to concede, but at least we have tried, quite honestly, to go as far as we could in order to relieve the anxiety of those who are conducting the various interests concerned with this problem of betting. At the same time it would be an impossible position for any responsible Government to accept the principle that the problem must be dealt with and then to bring forward a Bill which would not, in fact, carry out what was intended.
Let me speak of newspaper problems. Whether or not we agree that the Irish sweepstake has been stimulated because it was advertised by those who run it, and that otherwise it would not have caught the public fancy, it yet remains perfectly true that if every home could 1848 receive a flaring advertisement of the possibility of great gain for comparatively small outlay people would be encouraged to take part in sweepstakes who otherwise would not touch them. As to our action in preventing the publication of the results of sweepstakes, who is it that should speak on this point? A letter appeared this morning in a newspaper which has a very wide circulation and which, if it looked at this matter purely as one of business, would desire to continue the publication of those results. That paper takes quite the contrary view. I have in my pocket a letter from the owner of that great paper. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which paper?"] It is a paper with a great circulation. Whatever we may think, the fact remains that it is a paper with a large circulation, and one would assume that if there were anything in the argument that sweepstakes are wanted by the people those responsible for it would desire to publish the results as a matter of pounds, shillings and pence. On the contrary the owner of that paper asked the Government to stand firm in the position which they have taken up. I say, in conclusion, that I trust the steps we are taking will be efficacious and produce results. The Debate has been a friendly one, conducted with good temper from all side, and I hope we may now proceed to a Division.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I am sure that every hon. Member and everyone in the country will be amazed to hear the statement of the Home Secretary that any individual can now sit down in his home and write out an application to Dublin for a 10s. ticket in the Irish Sweepstake without the necessity of going through the routine of buying it from an agent or having any fears of his 10s. being confiscated in the post—that by this Bill we now have a complete assurance that what was previously illegal will become perfectly legal. In future, the agent will go to the home of an individual to whom he has previously sold tickets and say, "Sign this form applying to Dublin for a ticket, enclose your 10s., and we will post it and the ticket will be sent back to you." Agents in wholesale numbers will be going from door to door asking their old customers to buy tickets. and added numbers will buy tickets now that 1849 they realise that they have got security. I am entirely in favour of sweepstakes and was amazed to hear the line of argument advanced by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). His was one of the most illogical speeches I have ever heard in this House. He says that he represents the opinion of the country, and tries to suggest that the views against the Bill expressed here have not the general approval of the country. I say that there is not a trade union branch or Labour club in the country which supports his point of view. They all run prize draws and sweepstakes, and lots of Members who were previously in this House had their election expenses paid by that method. Supporters have had to go round to raise the money in that way. I know that, because I have had the experience—often.
Then he tried to make our flesh creep by telling us of some man who won £1,500 in a sweepstake and drank himself to death in 15 months. That is an argument that no person should have any more money than is necessary to buy food and pay rent and the hon. Member ought to go about the country advocating that wages and relief should be limited in case people drink themselves to death. I have seen no evidence of it. I know a. number of men who came from the mine and the factory and who drew £2,000 or £5,000 a year as Cabinet Ministers, and I have yet to learn that any of them have drank themselves to death. It is illogical to say that because one person who gets £1,500 drinks himself to death, we must limit the incomes of every human being. I am confident that most of the trade union leaders of the country who enjoy good salaries do not drink themselves to death.
He quoted one case and I will give him another. There is a young woman in Motherwell who won £30,000 in the Irish Sweepstake. She bears the same name as myself, and, as a matter of fact, when I saw the name published I got a shock. I thought it was my name, and I was hoping that I had won £30,000. The father of this young woman was an unemployed miner. She bought a house for her father and mother, she bought a house for herself and got married, she furnished the homes of her two brothers and gave her sister £1,000 with which to start life. That case is a contrast; hut, even so, I do not put it forward as 1850 anything that would justify the running of sweepstakes in this country. We always get these stories. At Labour meetings, when we were dealing with the property owners, somebody always got up and said, "What about the poor old widow who owns property?" putting forward that plea as an argument for doing nothing in the matter of slum clearance. The hon. Member for Westhoughton says that Britain is different from America, that if we lay down a law here it can be enforced, but not in America. When, as a young man of 17 or 18, I started in Labour politics, I had listened to a number of cranks like the hon. Member for Westhoughton and the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), who tried to make me believe that if the opportunity for obtaining alcoholic liquor were taken away we could thereby wipe out the desire for drink in every human being. I have lived to see that in America the very opposite happens; and in Glasgow I have seen people adorning benches in the centre of that city who, because they cannot purchase ordinary liquor, are taking methylated spirits and things of that description. Therefore I claim that the argument of the hon. Member does not hold water. The people in America are similar to the people in Britain and the people in Britain are similar to the people in Germany.
Go where we will we find that if we attempt to take away that which the people desire we get a revulsion of feeling, and they adopt illegal methods in order to satisfy their desires. In this country it is illegal to take bets in the street, but as I go up and down the streets of Glasgow I see hundreds of cases of men dodging in and out of doorways with slips and handing them to young men. We all know that bookmaking, prize draws and sweepstakes, which are all illegal, are carried on. During one of the Irish sweepstakes I sat in this House on the Labour benches and one afternoon saw a full book of Irish Sweepstake tickets. A week or two later five out of the six Members who had bought tickets went into the Lobby against a Bill presented by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) says: "I have purchased sweepstake tickets in the Irish Sweepstake, but what I do privately I must not acknowledge and allow other people 1851 to do publicly. I have a public duty to my constituents." I do not say that he is dishonest, but I say it is a horrible spirit in which to deal with public affairs if we are to have two consciences, as the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) says. I do not always blame those in the political world who have two consciences. Sometimes they blame the Tories and Liberals for doing a thing and then do the same thing themselves. That is the double conscience in operation and people attempt to justify it; but I say that if I believed that gambling were illegal, I should vote against this Bill, because this Bill allows the greatest forms of gambling evil to continue in this country. The hon. Member for Bodmin is against gambling, but he is making legal in this country the most pernicious forms of gambling that could be allowed in the community.
We have to consider these questions: Are sweepstakes going on? They are. Is there a public desire for sweepstakes? In my estimation, there is an overwhelming desire by the people of this country for sweepstakes. If that be the ease, why bring in a Bill to attempt to prevent sweepstakes when you know that you cannot enforce your law? You will simply have people buying tickets in other ways. They will meet together and say, "How we tricked the Home Secretary. We drew up schemes in order to overcome the law he laid down." People will be going round the country laughing at the Home Secretary and at his simplicity in imagining that by a simple Bill in this House he could prevent sweepstakes. From beginning to end this is the most muddle-headed and halfwitted Bill which I have ever seen. It is an attempt to stop the average member of the British public taking part in sweepstakes, but it has been shown publicly to-day how the law can be overridden and how people can with comparative safety purchase tickets in their homes. We are told that we cannot permit the publication in the Press of a list of winners. If I won £30,000, I would welcome the fact that the Press did not publish it. I would be completely immune from the appeals which are generally made by people who want donations for charitable objects.
There is the question of the wireless, and it has never been answered. Athlone 1852 can, any night, broadcast appeals to tell you where to send for tickets. The Home Secretary has said that you only need to send 10s. and apply for tickets. Athlone can tell you the winners over the wireless, and groups of people in clubs or in their homes can listen to Athlone and to the publication of the names and the appeals. I cannot imagine a more stupid Bill being passed through the House.
Last evening, 149 Members out of 615 voted. I am told by an individual who claims to know that there were 67 people out of that 149 who are in one kind of Government job or another, and that 60 others are in the running for positions. That leaves 22 persons who cannot be traced as having any interest in the continuation of the Government. Out of 615 persons, 466 refused to vote. I am not saying anything against any Member of the House who cannot be traced, because we know that some of them have meetings and various other functions to attend, but for 466 out of 615 not to vote at a time when we are going round the country and appealing through the Press and from the political platform for all to exercise their votes at the polls means that a great proportion of Members deliberately abstained because they detest the Measure. The Government with all their power can muster only 149. That is all that the coercive power of the Home Secretary can bring to his aid.
I say to the Home Secretary: "You are out of step with the people in the country." The people of this country desire sweepstakes. They desire the opportunity of carrying on in a harmless manner the little pleasures which are afforded to them. We have heard from a Member of the Labour benches that the Government under this Bill are even going to stop cocoanut shies and darts. Think what pleasure women and children get when going round the ordinary show ground. This is all to be stopped. I am sure that if the Home Secretary had to introduce the Bill now he would realise that public opinion is against it. We ought to have legalised sweepstakes, seeing that the people desire them, and they should be upon a proper and legal basis and should be run in the cleanest manner. If the Government do not desire the money to go to Ireland, they should run the sweepstakes, and use the money for the charitable institutions of the country. I warn 1853 the Minister in charge that time will prove the Bill to be unworkable and that the avalanche of opposition in the country will overwhelm him when the opportunity comes.
|Division No. 411.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Glossop, C. W. H.||Mornan, Robert H|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Goff, Sir Park||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Nall, Sir Joseph|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Banfield, John William||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Oman, Sir Charles William C|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Greene, William P. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Blindell, James||Grimston, R. V.||Patrick, Colin M,|
|Borodale, Viscount||Groves, Thomas E.||Peake, Osbert|
|Bossom, A. C||Grundy, Thomas W.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Penny, Sir George|
|Bowyer. Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Percy. Lord Eustace|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Petherick, M.|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Peto. Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brown. Ernest (Leith)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zeti'nd)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Pybus, Sir John|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Radford, E. A.|
|Burnett, John George||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chemisford)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Cape. Thomas||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hepworth, Joseph||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Carver, Major William H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Rea, Waiter Russell|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Rickards, George William|
|Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hopkinson, Austin||Roberts, Aied (Wrexham)|
|Clarke, Frank||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ropner. Colonel L.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Hornby, Frank||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Howard, Tom Forrest||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Colville. Lieut.-Colonel J.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Russell, Alexander West (Tynernouth)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Iveagh, Countess of||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Jackson. Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Cooper. A. Duff||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Salmon. Sir Isidore|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Jamieson. Douglas||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gaineb'ro)||John, William||Sassoon. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Cross, R. H.||Ker, J. Campbell||Scone, Lord|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Davies. Edward C. (Montgomery)||Kirkwood, David||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Law, Sir Alfred||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lawson, John James||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Dickie, John P.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith. Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lewis, Oswald||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lindsay. Noel Ker||Somervell. Sir Donald|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Soper, Richard|
|Eady. George H.||Loftus, Pierce C.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Ellis. Sir R. Geoffrey||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Mabane, William||Stanley, Rt, Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Stones, James|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Storey, Samuel|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Stuart. Lord C. Crichton-|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||McKle. John Hamilton||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Evans. R. T. (Carmarthen)||Maclay, Hon, Joseph Paton||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Foot. Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Magnay, Thomas||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mainwaring, William Henry||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Manningham-Butler, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Margesaon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|George, Megan A, Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mayhew, Lieut,-Colonel John||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Milner, Major James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||White, Henry Graham|
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 233; Noes, 71.
|Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)||Withers, Sir John James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)||Womersley, Sir Walter||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Williams, Thomas (York., Don Valley)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)||Ward and Major George Davies.|
|Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hales, Harold K.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Apsley, Lord||Hanley, Dennis A.||Remer, John R.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Hartington, Marquess of||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E.R.)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Buchanan, George||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Somerville. D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Christie, James Archibald||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Taylor,Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Lees-Jones, John||Templeton, William P.|
|Daggar, George||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Leonard, William||Thorne, William James|
|Dobbie, William||Levy, Thomas||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Doran, Edward||McEntee, Valentine L.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McGovern, John||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Duncan, James A. L.(Kensington,N.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Maxton, James.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Sir W. Davison and Mr. Herbert Williams.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pike, Cecil F.|