§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I beg to move, in page 31, line 24, at the end, to insert:and at the end of the first six months after the setting up of a totalisator on any dog racecourse such a percentage only shall be deducted as shall be certified by the accountant to be appointed under the provisions of paragraph four of this Schedule as will produce a sum equal to the cost of operating the totalisator added to 5 per cent. on the capital cost of the erection and equipment of the totalisator and a percentage adequate to cover the cost of amortisation of the totalisator.This Schedule deals with rules and regulations with regard to totalisators on dog tracks, and it has not been a subject, or even a branch of a subject, that has been debated this afternoon. Although I am aware that we have only an hour and 40 minutes in all before 11 o'clock and that there are no doubt Government and other Amendments 1879 which must be debated, I must ask the House to bear with me for a few moments in putting the case for my Amendment, because it appears to me that here we come to the very basis of the Government's proposal to instal totalisators on dog racing tracks. The House knows very well that that was not the course recommended by the Commission. They were in favour of maintaining the position that the totalisator was not legal on a dog track, but the basis on which the Government have proceeded in deciding, as they have, to legalise the totalisator under certain conditions on dog racing tracks was put very clearly the other night by, I think, the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Horobin), who said that the rake-off was intended to balance the expenses. What is more important is that Lord Londonderry, in moving the alteration from 3 per cent., which was the original percentage proposed to be allowed to be deducted from the sums taken, to 5 per cent., said in another place that the Government were prepared to put some figure in the Bill which would enable the totalisator to receive its working expenses and leave nothing over for the profit of the promoters. The Home Secretary, speaking on the Committee stage in this House only a few nights ago, put a rather less ambitious aim as the Government's intention, and said that the whole effort of the Government in drafting the Bill had been as far as possible to limit any undue profits on these concerns.
Therefore, I want to deal quite frankly with the situation as it stands. The right hon. Gentleman made it clear that the Government did not now pledge themselves to leave no profit whatever, but I have to prove that neither intention can possibly be carried out by fixing any definite percentage applicable to the operations of the totalisator on all dog tracks, whether in large populous districts with immense numbers of people attending them or small ones in the provinces. There is no fixed percentage that you could possibly apply equally and fairly in both cases. If it would pay the expenses of a small concern, it would yield a huge profit to a big race track. It is obvious that the Government have found it very difficult to arrive at any fixed percentage, because when the Bill was introduced 1880 in another place the percentage in it was 3 per cent., with a penny breakage, and that was altered to 5 per cent., with a threepenny breakage, and in the Bill, as now printed with the Government Amendments carried in Committee, it is 6 per cent., with a penny halfpenny breakage.
§ Sir B. PETO
I will finish the passage dealing with this subject. I am referring to the proviso on lines 25 to 35, which immediately follows the part of the Schedule where my Amendment comes in. The arrangement now proposed by the Government is that up to 1½d. should be kept. Any greater sum in pence not divisible by three must be handed over to the stakeholder. I admit that the hon. Member is right in a sense that there is no breakage. The only reason I mention it is to show the House that I am aware that the 5 per cent. is not being increased. Therefore, the Home Secretary has already inserted in the Bill what, taking into consideration the proviso as well as the actual increase from 5 to 6 per cent., will work out to be a diminution in the amount allowed for working the totalisator. I mention this because my Amendment deals only with the question of 6 per cent. It is not necessary for me to ask that an accountant should go into questions of breakage, because it will not be a source of profit to those operating the totalisator.
If there is an attempt made to refer at all to the operations of the totalisator on horse racecourses, which was the original intention of the 1928 Act, and to which this House was always assured they would be confined, and to compare the amounts taken, I would refer to what Lord Rosebery, one of the representatives of the Jockey Club on the Betting Control Board, has said in the House of Lords, namely, that on horse racecourses they had to provide elaborate machines at enormous cost to deal with a maximum of 40 starters in a race, whereas on dog tracks six dogs were the maximum. Lord Rosebery added that no horse racecourse except one had more than 16 days racing in the year, as compared with 104 and four double days allowed for dogs under this Bill. He assured the House of Lords that if they allowed the Betting Control Board 104 days racing with no more than six starters, they would look upon the 1881 totalisator as a gold mine. I think that is good authority for my saying that the Government have never made any due allowance for the enormous difference between operating machines of this kind on 108 days a year and on horse racing courses, some of which have only five, some eight and some 10 days of racing. I am satisfied that the percentage fixed will only yield the costs on small provincial tracks, but in the towns will yield enormous profits.
That accounts for the divergent opinions between different dog racing associations. There is the National Greyhound Racing Club controlling all those large and profitable tracks; and there is an organisation called the British Greyhound Tracks Society, who have issued a special newspaper to explain their grievances—the grievances of the small race track. The latter say they cannot. make a living under this Bill, whereas those controlling the large race tracks are extremely complacent about the Bill as at present. If the Government really wish to prevent betting on the totalisator from being a source of great profit to track owners or to limit that profit, they ought to accept this Amendment. There are elaborate provisions in this Schedule for the appointment of a qualified accountant in paragraph 8, which states:The operator shall, within seven days after the close of each month, submit to the accountant for examination by him a complete statement of accounts for that month, giving all such information as he may require… and, in particular, showing in respect of each race the sums received through the totalisator, the amount retained by the operator and the amounts paid to the persons winning bets.If all that is to be done, why not make some use of these details which are to be collected month by month by qualified accountants? It is obvious that use should be made of this information, and that the public should have the benefit of it. By certifying month by month, or every six months, the actual cost of operating the machine can be given, the capital expense of erecting it, the fair sum of amortization on that expenditure, and so, according to the figures quoted under the provisions of this Schedule, a proper percentage for meeting expenses would be reached. In that way the Government's purpose would be carried out. In no other way can we prevent the totalisator being a huge source of profit. The Home Secretary may say that it 1882 would produce a complicated and an undesirable state of affairs to have different percentages on different courses. I would say in answer to that possible objection that the public would obviously know, if it is certified, what is to be the amount deducted for a totalisator running on a particular racecourse, some requiring 10 per cent. and on another racecourse 5 per cent., and would naturally make for the course where they got the biggest return for their investment.
If the Government see some other reason why my Amendment does not carry out completely their intentions in regard to the setting up of what really are indistinguishable from great gaming houses to the profit of the persons running them, I beg them to fall back, at any rate, upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) or that in the name of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson). They should retain the power of fixing some other percentage if they find I am a true prophet and that this 6 per cent. is resulting in immense gain on certain big race tracks to the owners and operators of the totalisators. I do not think that would be as satisfactory a plan as the one I propose. I admit frankly that I do not like dog racing as it is carried on to-day and as it will be carried on under this Bill. I believe it is a new vice and not a sport at all, and that it will increase under the provisions of this Bill because they allow totalisators to be operated. Much as I dislike all that, I still more dislike something which seems to me to be unjust and unfair. The Bill is so based that it must result in loss in some cases to the small man running a little track, and big profits to the huge combines running large tracks where enormous crowds assemble for no purpose in the world except to use the totalisator.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Sir A. BUTT
I beg to second the Amendment.
After the very full speech of the hon. Baronet in moving the Amendment, I feel, that there is little I need add. The Home Secretary has told us throughout the Debates on totalisators on greyhound tracks that he wants to give them justice so that they can at all events operate without loss, and that a rate should be fixed to secure that they did not make large and substantial 1883 profits. It must be admitted that it is impossible with a large number of tracks of varying dimensions to fix a flat rate which will be fair and equitable to all concerned. There are very small tracks throughout the country where the takings are only a few pounds a night, while there are other tracks where the takings will amount to hundreds and in many cases to thousands of pounds per night. I agree that the expenses of installation vary widely. In many cases tracks in the country will not be able to have mechanical totalisators at all, but there is no doubt that if you fix 6 per cent. for the tracks of the larger organisations in London it will not only mean that they can run wihout making a loss, but that you are permanently subsidising the huge monopolies to make really extravaant profits. I do not believe that that was the intention of the Home Secretary; it was certainly not the intention of this House.
It must be almost impossible for the Home Secretary to decide now what is a fair percentage for any track. I imagine that he has not the information at his disposal; at all events such information as he may possess can hardly be called either unbiased or reliable. I therefore favour the Amendment. It will give the tracks six months during which they can take a rake-off of 6 per cent., and at the end of that time chartered accountants, who are provided for under the Bill, will be able to make full returns to the local authorities, and they will be able to strike a fair average of the receipts of the respective tracks over the period of six months. It should then be easy to ascertain what is a fair and reasonable percentage for each track to deduct from the totalisator in the future periods. I wonder whether Members have considered what 6 per cent. really means. I worked it out roughly to-day. If £100 is taken to a greyhound racing track, either by one individual or collectively by several individuals and that £100 is staked on the eight races, it does not matter who wins or who loses, at the end of the time the individual or the people collectively will have only £60 left. Hon. Members can realise from that instance what enormous profits will be made by these totalisators if a large amount of money is staked.
1884 I would like to emphasise another point. If the fears of the hon. Baronet are realised and a large number of tracks in poor areas are not able to exist on this deduction, it will mean that their clientele will be driven to the tracks owned by the monopolists and that will go to swell their profits. I seriously urge the Home Secretary to give some consideration to this Amendment. I admit it is a difficult problem, but, after all, we are legislating for the first time to legalise gambling, and we are going to allow the profits of legalised gambling to go to private enterprise. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he does not propose that anybody shall reap undue profits. I am not concerned very much with that, but I am concerned with the House of Commons passing legislation which will penalise the small man and subsidise the big man. I hope, therefore, that even at this late hour the Home Secretary will give some consideration to the Amendment. If he cannot accept it in this form I ask him to undertake to bring in an Amendment as the result of experience when the Bill has been working.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I rise to support the Amendment and to remind the Home Secretary of what we were told, at the very beginning, was the object of this Measure. There is no doubt about the words used when the Bill was commended to the country. It was stated in another place that the main object underlying the Government's proposals was a strict limitation of the amount of profit to he derived from operating the totalisator on greyhound tracks. Therefore, it cannot be suggested that there is anything hostile in moving an Amendment to implement the statement made by the promoters of the Measure. Certain arguments were used in debate last week which roused the apprehensions of many of those supporting the Bill. It will run counter to the Government's proposal if a scheme is set up under which huge profits are made. I have no means of ascertaining whether that will be so hut if it be so, or if it he suspected by the public, when this Bill comes into operation, that big firms are making large sums of money out of this new, legalised form of gambling, the Government will encounter very serious criticism. I want to be fair to the smaller 1885 tracks, and I do not want to see large sums of money put into the hands of big, monopolistic concerns. I am sure that was not the intention of the Government and there ought to be some means of making certain that the intention of the Government is fulfilled.
We should not part with the Bill unless we have within the Statute itself the means to correct what we are now doing in the light of the experience we shall gain. It would be a disaster if it were found that some remedy ought to be introduced, and that that could be done only by means of a new Act of Parliament. In setting up any constitution it is important to have within the limits of it the means for adapting it to any new circumstances which may arise. Here, whatever be done, it is most important that within the next six months or 12 months, when we have gained experience of the working of this new system, we should be able to take advantage of that experience. If there were agitation for a new Measure, and controversy arose in carrying it through the House, we know that in the crowded state of Government business the evil would remain unremedied; and in the meantime those who set up tracks to exploit the weaknesses of the people would be making vast sums from the contributions of the poor people who attend them. In commending the Bill to Parliament the Government stated what was their main purpose in unequivocal language, and we ask that even at this eleventh hour they should embody in the Bill an Amendment which will give the House the possibility of making use of the experience which we shall gain in the course of the next six or 12 months.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Lieut. - Commander AGNEW
The Government can justly claim, in bringing forward this legislation, that they have attempted to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In their remarks on betting on the course the Royal Commission said:Experience shows that of the management of a track are allowed to have a financial interest in the betting there is grave danger that tracks will be promoted for the sake of betting revenue, and that the sport will become simply an adjunct to the betting. Such tracks are little better than casinos.1886 I feel that it was with that in mind that the Noble Lord who introduced this Bill in another place stated that he wished so to arrange the amount of rake off taken by the totalisator as to leave no actual profit to the promoters. Since then the amount of the rake off has been increased, and the Home Secretary certainly said on the Committee stage a few nights ago that he did not venture to express the opinion that "each and every track would get the same advantage." In those words, his own frank admission, is revealed the weakness of the Government's proposal regarding what money is to be taken out of the pool. The whole weakness of the Government's proposal lies not only in the inequality which previous speakers have shown will exist as between large tracks and small tracks, but also in the unlimited possibilities for profit which are opened out by the whole system of having a rake off instead of a fixed amount of profit. When there is a rake off we get this position: There may be a track where, in the normal course of events, only a few hundreds attend the meetings. Perhaps it is at a seaside town. When holiday times arrives, instead of a few hundreds there are several thousand people passing through the turnstiles, and on such occasions the whole purpose of the Home Secretary in this Bill will be absolutely defeated, because the rate of profit clear to the promoters will be increased in exactly the same ratio as the number of people attending on that evening is increased as compared with normal evenings. That is the whole flaw and the weakness, and in putting my name to the Amendment which the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) has moved, I do so in the belief that if the Home Secretary will accept it he will provide not only justice as between the large track and the small track, but also a fixed and fair and reasonable profit for those who may see fit to set up totalisators on racecourses.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
I hope that the Home Secretary will take advantage of this Amendment to secure the powers which it is suggested should be taken. It may be said that the wording of the Amendment does not meet the case, but if that is the only objection it can easily be got over. I listened with great interest to 1887 one or two speeches made from below the Gangway on this side during the Committee stage, and I really was alarmed at the rate of profit which it will be possible for the owners of big tracks to make, a profit such as the Government never intended they should have but which the arguments then put forward showed they probably would make. The Government are recognising this as a social evil and are legislating in order to cut it down. They have made the point, both here and in another place, that the amount of private gain to be got out of the facilities giving for betting is to be cut down to a low figure. They are doing this so efficiently in the case of the smaller tracks that probably a lot of them will be wiped out, and the fewer smaller tracks there are the better it will be for the bigger tracks. It has been proved conclusively that the big tracks running now and those which will be run under this Bill will, in a very short time, be making enormous profits, and if they do so that will be absolutely against the intentions of the Home Secretary and the Government.
There has been some discussion as to the difference betwen horse racing and dog racing sometimes to the advantage of the one and sometimes to the advantage of the other. I understand that the difference is that the number of days per year on a horse racing track is 16, and in regard to the largest of them fewer than that. Under this Bill, the number for dog tracks is 104. I understand that the percentage taken off the totalisator on horse race tracks is 10; under this Bill for dog tracks the percentage is six, but 6 per cent. for 104 days is more than 10 per cent. for 16 days of horse racing, and gives a tremendous advantage to the dog racing track. I have come to the conclusion that dog tracks are going to become a very big and profitable business, and if that is so I hope that the Home Secretary will pay attention to the arguments that have been directed at him from every quarter of the House, that he should take powers so that if huge profits are made he will be able to deal with them.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I can assure the House and the hon. Gentlemen who have raised this question that we have viewed it from all points that we could and that 1888 we have very reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot accept the Amendment. The drafting of the Amendment, which I am not criticising, shows how difficult it is to achieve the object which a great many hon. Members have in view. It proposes that after the first six months of the operation of the totalisator on a dog track only such deduction should be made.as shall be certified by the accountant to he appointed under the provisions of paragraph four of this Schedule as will produce a sum equal to the cost of operating the totalisator added to five per cent, on the capital cost of the erection and equipment of the totalisator and a percentage adequate to cover the cost of amortisation of the totalisator.That opens out a very big additional burden upon the accountant, who would have to make some calculation as to what the working charges of a concern ought to be. If you take the other point that this would be calculated on the operation of the first six months, as the House knows, the totalisator was in operation on some of these concerns, and it was then declared illegal. It now comes into operation again, but I cannot help thinking that it would not be very satisfactory to come to very definite ideas as to cost, etc., in the first six months of the working of the totalisator under new and fresh conditions. I am sure that every hon. Member will agree as to the great disadvantage of bringing the licensing authority, which is the local authority, into problems in which there might be disputes as to whether the finding of an accountant or any other officer was fair and reasonable. The House all along has tried to avoid throwing into the arena of controversy among the local authorities, who are the licensing authorities, any question in which there should be a possibility of improper pressure—to use a very frank word. The Government have adopted the fixed maximum percentage, which is, no doubt, open to criticism and question. Some people say that it is very little and others that it may be too much, and that the effect of dealing with it in this way would be to give advantage to this or that track against the others. We have had before us from time to time such evidence and such figures as we could get, but I cannot say that I can place definite reliance upon those figures.
1889 With the best will in the world, and with the idea of trying to meet a proposal with which I have a good deal of sympathy and which hon. Members have put forward to this House with very great force, it would be impossible. I say that, not because it has occurred in the last few hours or the last few days; I have been looking at this matter with the greatest concern ever since the Government first tackled this problem. It is true that when the Bill was first introduced the figure was put at 3 per cent. We then felt that there was some reason for changing that figure and it was raised to 5 per cent. plus breakages. Then it was ascertained that the breakages provision would not act in such a manner as would not make it five plus one, and that is why the Government brought the figure to six.
Having said that, I come back to the practical working of this business. I have been anxious to make this responsibility one of Parliament and not of the local authority, but all I can say is that the House will be well advised to accept what is in the Bill at the present time. I will only add that if, not at the end of six months but after a period of trial and error, it becomes apparent that something has been done that has gone far outside what either the Government or this House desires, that will be the time when this should be reviewed. One cannot bind any Government, but it is obvious that there are still outstanding questions and problems which Parliament may have to review at some future time.
§ Sir B. PETO
Does that mean that the Home Secretary will take powers in this Bill to review this question?
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Mr. MOLSON
I have listened to the Home Secretary's speech and I realise that the purpose that he had in mind in drafting the Bill is exactly the purpose which the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), and various other hon. Members who have put down Amendments, have also tried to achieve. The Home Secretary has undertaken that if some time it is shown by experience that the Act is not going to be a satisfactory method, the Government will introduce legislation—[HON. MEMBERS: 1890 "No."]—or will review the position and if it is then possible, will alter by legislation what is provided in this Bill. We all know that it would be extremely difficult to find Parliamentary time for that, and it would be a very cumbrous way of dealing with the matter. Our purpose in putting down this Amendment has been to enable the Government now to obtain some flexibility, so that it would be possible for them, after gaining experience of the working of the Measure, to alter the amount of the "rake-off" in order to do justice. There are two matters in which the Bill may not work as is anticipated. In the first place, it may result in all tracks making larger profits than are intended by the Government; and, in the second place, it may result in some individual tracks—for example those in city areas—making larger profits than the Government intended should be the case. We are trying to arrive at some flexible machinery by which it would be possible for the Home Secretary to make the operation of the Act fairer and more equitable without having to come back to the House in order to pass legislation. I realise that the Home Secretary is genuinely in sympathy with the purpose we are trying to achieve, and I only detain the House to say that I hope he will be able himself to devise some Amendment in order to achieve the desired result.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander AGNEW
May I ask the Home Secretary a question? I contended in my remarks that, although the "rake-off" was limited to 6 per cent., the actual amount of the profit was in fact unlimited. He did not reply to that point, and I would like to ask him whether he could deal with it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 31, line 40, to leave out "within a specified time," and to insert:before such time, not being earlier than forty-eight hours after the conclusion of the race or, as the case may be, of the last of the races in connection with which the bet was made, as may have been specified in the notice aforesaid.This is an Amendment which was asked for by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams).
§ Amendment agreed to.1891
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ Mr. HANNON
I beg to move, in page 32, line 23, at the end, to insert:Provided that the terms on which any accountant is appointed as aforesaid shall include a term that on every appointed day either he or a servant of his authorised in that behalf by him in writing must be in attendance at the totalisator during such period or periods as may before that day have been notified to him in writing by the operator.I understand that the Home Secretary is willing to accept this Amendment, and I desire to thank him very much for his gracious consideration.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
This Amendment is merely to provide that the licensing authority must make it a condition that the accountant or someone appointed by him shall be in attendance at the totalisator at such times as have been notified to him in writing by the operator. I am prepared to accept it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 33, line 8, to leave out from "with," to the end of the paragraph.
This is a deletion from paragraph 8 of the First Schedule, which was inserted during the Committee stage.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
Owing to the noise, I did not hear exactly what the Home Secretary said, but I venture to suggest that this is a very important Amendment. He has announced that he will be guided in the future by the actual results of the running of these totalisators on the basis of a 6 per cent. "rake-off," and a qualified accountant is to be appointed to watch over the operation of the totalisator. This would enable the Home Secretary to have precisely the information that he will require in order to arrive at a decision as to what the profits really are. I could not hear what he said, but I cannot understand his motive in striking out of this paragraph the very words which would enable him to have before him the information he would require in order to know how the thing is working. I would ask him to look at this Amendment in the light of what he has just told the House, namely, that he is going to retain an open mind on this question of the working of the figure 1892 of 6 per cent. If he is going to do that, and if he has any intention of revising the arrangement if it should be found necessary in the public interest, he will want all the information that he can have, and, in particular, the very thing that he is now striking out. Therefore, I would ask him to give some reason which can be connected with the decision which he has just announced to the House.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
It is unnecessary to detail these various heads, because we have full powers to get all the information that we require, as the result of an Amendment which was put into the Bill at another point.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 33, line 14, after "necessary," insert:
for the purpose of ascertaining whether the provisions of this Schedule are being complied with."—[Sir J. Gilmour.]
§ 10.14 p.m.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
I am sure the whole House will be glad that we are able to begin the Debate on the Third Reading at any rate in an atmosphere of calm. In fact, all the debates on this Bill were carried out most quietly and calmly until we had a temporary interruption on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). The Second Reading and the Third Reading in the other House were both passed without a Division, and the Second Reading in this House was passed without a Division. Therefore, the Government were able to claim at the very beginning of the Committee stage that both Houses of Parliament had agreed with the principle upon which the Bill was based, and I think it is only right to say, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, how very much the Government feel obliged for the loyalty of those who supported the Bill and for the silence which they have kept, under great provocation, both during the Committee stage and here on the Floor of the House. The fact that the Second and Third Readings in another place and the Second Reading here were unopposed was the real justification for bringing the Bill 1893 down to the Floor of the House, and the fact that we were justified in doing it is to be found when we recollect that upstairs the first Clause consumed 20 hours of discussion, whereas the whole of the rest of the Committee stage on the Floor of the House, consisting of 33 Clauses and 22 Schedules, only consumed 27 hours. That shows that the general opinion of the House is in favour of having the Bill upon the Statute Book as soon as possible, and the weapons that were sharpened and forged upstairs in the heat of July became very blunt in November.
We had two main streams of opposition to contend with. We had on the greyhound question first of all the fear that under the Bill a great number of the little tracks might be squeezed out. We also had the fear, which has been again voiced this evening, that by the operation of the totalisator undue profits might accrue to the larger tracks. To the best of its ability the Government has dealt with both points in the compromise which it has offered to the House and which is now before it on the Third Reading. The second stream of opposition that we have had to deal with has been with regard to lotteries. There still are some Members of the House, and people outside, who speak as if they thought the promoters of large lotteries were ipso facto public benefactors. What has indeed been most noteworthy in our Debates is that no one who has dissented from the Royal Commission's remarks on the subject of large lotteries has ever made any attempt to give a convincing reply to the statements of the Royal Commission and the conclusions that they came to as the result of the evidence that they heard.
The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), who seems to be so vocal at the moment, said no one wants the Bill. It is certainly true that some of the popular newspapers recently have been supporting his attitude, but when the Royal Commission's Report first came out practically the whole of the Press of the country supported their recommendations. I may instance two of the papers which have lately taken a rather different view. On 9th June last year the "Daily Express" said that large lotteries had the effect of a poisonous drug and that the Commission had reached the right conclusion. The next day the "Evening Standard" urged the public acceptance of the Commission's proposal 1894 for suppressing the sale of Irish Sweep tickets. Nothing that has happened since June of last year, so far as the Government can see, has in any way altered the basis on which the Royal Commission founded its recommedations, and while other people's opinions may have differed ours have remained the same. The hon Gentleman has quoted time and time again what happened at the Conservative conference at Bristol. I feel 10th to raise the question again except that I was one of the four or five Members of the House who were there. Of course, they were carried away, as the hon. Gentleman says and as we know, by the eloquence of himself and the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Braithwaite). The Conservative Conference found itself in exactly the same position as the Royal Commission. Every one who first looks at this question of big lotteries has the presumption that there must be something in it. The Royal Commission, a perfectly unbiased body, presided over by Mr. Justice Rowlatt, said:At the outset of this inquiry we approached the subject of lotteries from the point of view that present circumstances seem to call for considerable relaxation of the existing prohibition of large scale lotteries in this country.That is what they said. That is the position, no doubt, in which, as a result of the eloquence of my hon. Friend, the Conservative Conference and the other bodies found themselves, that they were not in a position to study the evidence or even to hear the opposition. If they had done so I have no doubt that they would have come to a similar conclusion on the case as the Royal Commission, who say thatafter 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.Everybody who looks at the question of lotteries is rather in favour of them. National lotteries have in the past had some rather strange results. Looking at the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) I am reminded that but for one she might not herself have been here, for in 1612 a public lottery was promoted in aid of the plantations of Virginia.
When the hon. Member for South Kensington tells us that in this Bill we are altering the law which existed 300 1895 years ago by which the Government retain the power to authorise lotteries, he and others who think with him are wrong. We are not doing anything of the sort. We are declaring the existing law, and putting it into the forefront of the Bill to show that this part of the subject is under consideration and that it shall be maintained in the future. As in the past, it will always be open to Parliament, the sovereign body, to pass a Bill to have a lottery for any specific purpose. That has been the practice for many centuries and it is still the law. To try to put on the Government and the executive of the day the power to choose when, why and how national lotteries should take place was a proposition, an old one in our legislation, and one the present Government were not prepared to accept.
We have been told that no great public bodies have expressed any opinion against lotteries. We have heard about those various meetings which have said they wanted lotteries. We have been told by several speakers that no one has ever said anything to the contrary, except, of course, the interested bodies, such as, perhaps, the anti-gambling league, who naturally would not take a contrary view. If the House would look up, as I have done, the "Times" for 18th April, they would read the report of a great conference which welcomed the provisions of the Bill to strengthen the law against public lotteries. What was that conference? It was a gathering under the chairmanship of the Bishop of Malmesbury, a very distinguished ecclesiastic, and it spoke representatively on behalf of the Church of England, the National Free Church Council, t he National Sunday School Union, the Christian Social Councils, the Young Mens Christian Association and the Church Army. On 24th April similar support was reported on behalf of he Baptist Union, and the next day it was announced that the Committee of the National Council of Evangelical Free Churches welcomed the Bill as a courageous effort.
Hon. Members may be entitled to ray that that opinion is not worth anything, but when you have these bodies representing the social and religious workers of this country, the Government, at any rate, whatever hon. Members may say, 1896 cannot ignore an expression of opinion from those quarters. That is the explanation of the great support which the Bill has received both in this House and outside in the country. It may not have been the support of the kind which comes out and says that it is a magnificent Bill, because you cannot expect Members or bodies of that kind to admit willingly that they would be prepared to yield on the question of betting or lotteries. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) has been frank with the House. Time and time again he has said that he and those for whom he speaks—and it is the same with other bodies—naturally do not welcome a Bill which gives something which they do not like to give away, but they say that it is something better than the present situation. They say that it is a great attempt to deal with a very grave social evil. We can say, and we do say, that there is a very great deal of support for this Measure.
The motive of the Bill—if I may now come to a final summing up—is the assumption that Parliamentary regulation of gambling is not a question of morals but of expediency. Morality is for the individual. But Parliament has to take note of certain circumstances as they arise. No individual, in our view, possesses a cast-iron right to enrich himself by inciting, influencing or exploiting the gambling habits of his neighbours. No one put the Government position better, if I may say so, considering his general attitude towards the Government, than the hon. Member for Silver-town (Mr. J. Jones). It is not often that I go for a description of Government policy to the hon. Member. He said:I do not object to a man or a woman putting a shilling on a horse or engaging in any other form of speculation, but if we allow unlimited possibilities for the exploitation of the people we are committing an offence not merely against morals but against the machinery of government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1934; col. 704, Vol. 293.]We base ourselves upon that statement. We are entitled to claim that the support for this Bill comes from all quarters of the House and from all political views.
The first part of the Bill deals with betting. It restricts betting on the track to a 1897 maximum of 104 days a year, not necessarily two days a week. [HON. MEMBERS: "Tote betting!"] All betting. I want to make the explanation as clear as I can. It restricts betting on any track to a maximum of 104 days in the year, not necessarily two days in each week, by such days as may be selected by the licensing authorities, who are the county councils and the county borough councils, except in a case where all the tracks in an area agree to the same days. If they do that, then those are the days which must be selected. The authority in considering applications is not concerned with the question of the morality of betting. It has to take into account the health and comfort of near-by residents, the interests of schools and institutions, traffic considerations, amenities and questions of law and order. A licence when granted, unless revoked for misconduct or some other specific reason, lasts for seven years, except that in the case of an existing track they may claim a five years' moratorium. Betting days are restricted to eight races per day. Totalisator betting is not allowed anywhere except on horse racecourses or on dog tracks. On dog tracks it is supervised by an accountant and mechanician authorised lay the licensing authority. The amount that can be retained by the operator is limited to 6 per cent. The track occupier is not allowed to interest himself in any way in bookmaking and may only take 6 per cent. of the totalisator pools for expenses, etc. Tracks where betting takes place on only seven days a year or less are not within the purview of the licensing authorities at all.
The only other point in regard to betting is that on horse racecourses it is permissible—it is already the law and this is declaratory—for the Racecourse Betting Control Board to arrange for the investment in totalisator pools of money received on credit either on or off the course. It is impossible for what was known as the Tote Club to come into being again, because it is not lawful for anyone, as the phrase is in law, to resort to any place for the purpose of putting on credit bets, whether on the tote or otherwise.
Part II deals with lotteries. Let me sum up what the Bill does. It reaffirms the existing law that lotteries are unlawful and brings up to date the penalties 1898 for infractions and the provisions for preventing their advertisement and the sale of their tickets. Having declared the general law that lotteries are unlawful, it then proceeds to make two specific exceptions. The first is that small lotteries like bazaar raffles, with prizes, which may be up to £10, are permitted, and, secondly, private lotteries are allowed, that is to say, they are confined, as far as the sale of tickets is concerned, to persons who either work or live on the same premises, or who are members of a society not established for the purpose; that is to say, clubs, institutions, organisations and the like. That means that while big lotteries are declared unlawful, what is legalised now are club sweeps, trade union Christmas draws 'and supporters clubs' lotteries, and the like. In that way a great deal of the inequality of recent administration is removed as well as the pettifogging restrictions which have been tiresome to a great number of people. This part of the Bill also restricts newspaper and other Press competitions unless they involve a substantial degree of skill, and at the same time it provides the machinery for dealing with it. That is the Bill in brief.
The machinery Clauses have been much criticised because we are asking the House to give us a search warrant Clause. The right hon. Member for Epping waxed eloquent on this subject last night, and told us that we should keep our search warrant for the safety of the State and not have it for matters so trivial as a draw in a lottery to exploit on a large scale the gambling propensities of certain of His Majesty's subjects. I took the trouble this morning, having been struck with the vigour of the right hon. Gentleman last night, to find out the recent Acts in which there is a search warrant provision. The right hon. Gentleman when he was addressing the Liberal party told them that it was against their principles, and against his own, and I was therefore amazed to find that in the Children's Act, 1908, when he was a member of the great Liberal party in the heyday of Liberalism, an Act passed when Mr. Gladstone was Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for Darwin (Sir H. Samuel) occupied the position which I now occupy, there is a search warrant provision. Talk about the Englishman's home being his castle!
1899 A justice of the peace can give a warrant to a constable to search if a child is being ill-treated or neglected—
If a child is being neglected, a constable can go in and search the premises and remove the child. If this principle is so dangerous that you must not have a search warrant at all it is simply nonsense. The right hon. Gentleman is going to make a speech later on—
The provision of a search warrant exists in over 50 Acts of Parliament, and it is necessary for the ordinary administration of the law in a great number of cases.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The hon. Member has referred to me directly and endeavoured to deal with my past record. Surely he will have the courtesy to permit me to ask him whether he compares the action of maltreating a child with that of selling a lottery ticket?
I do not attempt to weigh the one offence against the other. The principle which arises is the same in both cases. In the Illegal Catching of Salmon Act the principle of a search warrant is admitted. Of course you must have the power in a certain number of cases. Parliament is very rightly jealous about giving the power to the Executive too often, and Governments are very chary in asking that it should be given; but in a case like this it has certainly been approved by the House. The Bill does not do half the things it is accused of doing. It does not raise the question whether one should bet or not bet. To describe it, as a Star Chamber Inquisition, another of the phrases of the right hon. Member for Epping, is absurd. We are not, as the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans) said, supporting the principle of class distinction in snort. It is fantastic to speak of the Bill in that way. There again the right hon. Member for Epping used the words that it was class legislation of a most objec- 1900 tionable character. I do not know whether he was here when we were discussing the Clause earlier in Committee. The Leader of the Opposition made a great speech on the subject, and supported wholeheartedly the attitude of the Government on that point. I have yet to hear of any case which the Leader of the Opposition would support if it could really be held that it was class distinction against the working classes of this country. Surely to any reasonable person that support entirely disposes of the right hon. Gentleman's claim that this is class legislation.
The Leader of the Opposition supported us on this particular proposal. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman was not here and was not aware of that fact.
Then the right hon. Gentleman accused my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of a desire to deprive the people of any possibility of being able to enjoy themselves. What misrepresentation is that! I cannot think that anyone who has any acquaintance with my right hon. Friend would consider him as a lugubrious spoilsport. What the Government are trying to do is perfectly simple. They are trying to set a limit to abuses to which public attention had recently specifically been called. We know that we are not stopping betting and gambling, and, what is more, we are not trying to do so. What we are doing is canalising these things in certain directions. We are trying to stop the big lottery and we are legalising many small ones. We are abolishing some of those tiresome regulations of which we have had many complaints. Surely, if a great flood comes down and for one reason or another you cannot dam the whole flood it is wise to take precautions and put up barriers where the flood would be most dangerous.
This Bill is in the true succession, I think, of social legislation. It makes no claim, nothing ever does in this country, to being logical, or to dealing with the whole problem. That is reserved for the 1901 time when the suitable opportunity comes. But what we have tried to do, as other great social Bills have done in the past, is to tackle one or two of the major evils as they have emerged from time to time in the public eye. It is just because the Bill has nothing to do with party or political views that it is most suitable that a National Government should have undertaken it. I hope, therefore, that the House will give the Bill now, as it has given the Bill in all its earlier stages, when matters of principle were before it, a unanimous Third Reading, and show that in spite of our excited and interesting evening last night the House has not lost its sense of proportion in matters of this kind.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary on having brought this Measure so far and to express in one or two final sentences what we here feel about its provisions. We, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, would have appreciated the Bill in its original form much more than the Bill as it will appear on the Statute Book in a few days time. The Under-Secretary in a modest and unprovocative speech has explained in detail the purpose, object and contents of the Bill and I am sure that his statement will remove many doubts and anxieties which were felt concerning it. The Bill certainly would seem to have reduced itself to something like a mixed grill and while I congratulate the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary upon their tenacity I am not sure that I can congratulate them fully upon the contents of the Bill. It is true that this Measure never set out to deal with every phase of gambling, but that, as the Under-Secretary said, was not the intention of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission said that legislation as to gambling must necessarily contain a considerable element of practical compromise and nobody can doubt that this Measure contains a practical element of compromise.
The Bill sets out first to limit greyhound racing and accomplishes that object to some extent; but while doing so it legalises for the first time the totalisator on greyhound tracks. It prohibits large lotteries, but permits foot- 1902 ball pools. The Under-Secretary said that the Government were trying to canalise betting, but I am afraid that the canal will become a pool as time goes on. In any case as I say the large lottery is prohibited while the football pool is permitted. Off-the-course betting is now permitted, while newspaper competitions are prohibited. Small lotteries and private lotteries are permitted and credit betting is still regarded as the porcupine to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) referred the other evening. The Bill therefore does none of those things which many of its opponents prophesied that it would do. If its political value to the Opposition were what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping believes it to be, then Socialism would be in its rightful place within a short time but we shall hesitate before congratulating ourselves upon the success of the Measure politically as far as we are concerned.
The Bill proposed to deal with a well-known problem which had been examined meticulously by a Royal Commission. The Government have seen fit to carry out to some extent the Commission's recommendations. So far as they have gone, we congratulate them upon their tenacity and their efforts but we regret now as we have regretted throughout these proceedings that they were not sufficiently courageous to take one more step. While closing the door on the development and extension of greyhound racing, they should have seen that no other door was left open. They should have guarded against the possibility that there would simply be a transfer from one undesirable development to a similarly undesirable development in another direction, namely, football pools. The Bill is one of those compromise efforts which have been characteristic of attempts to deal with gambling all through the last century. I commend the right hon. Gentleman for having tried to do something. He has not succeeded in doing a lot but as far as he has gone I hope that the general result of the Measure will be useful, particularly from the social point of view and the point of view of the wellbeing of the juveniles who have been drawn into the net of gambling, and that it will prove effective as a deterrent.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I beg the indulgence of the House, and I shall only keep them for a few minutes, because I am conscious that I have spoken more than I should have done on this Bill. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood if I express my congratulations to the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary of State on their conduct of this Bill. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That, I understand, draws ironical cheers from some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but although the Bill is certainly not one for which I have ally enthusiasm, I think the Home Secretary throughout these discussions has shown great courage. He had a very difficult burden to carry, and his task has not been made easier by the many attacks that have been made upon him, especially by those who have generally been associated with him politically. We think the Home Secretary has carried this burden with honour to himself and with distinction to the House. As far as the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is concerned, it is wonderful how well we conducted our Debates until he came in. A few days ago he had never heard of the Bill, but he suddenly became acquainted with it, and we had yesterday the type of leadership that we are going to have in the big constitutional Debates of the next six months. Really it was a try-out of his forces in this House, and that is what happened yesterday, when for hour after hour we were kept simply upon dialectical points upon a Bill upon which, apparently, he thought it easy to dilate, but upon which some of us feel deeply because we are in touch with circumstances outside, in touch with those outside who are right up against the effects of this evil.
I would commend the people of this country who are looking to the leadership that we are going to have in the next few months to the conduct of the Debate yesterday and the delay in our proceedings, the dialectical skill in holding up a Measure which, at any • rate, many of the people in this country regard as being a serious social reform. The right hon. Gentleman asked yesterday, What principle was there? That was his theme. Turning upon the Front Bench, he asked, "Where is the policy, where is the principle?" He made a dozen speeches in the last two days without a 1904 single constructive proposal. We are left with the fact that there is such an evil and that the Government had to tackle it. No Government could avoid taking action consequent upon the Commission's recommendations, and although there is an evil acknowledged by all except partisans and those who have betting interests, the right hon. Gentleman had not a single constructive proposal to make, except one, and that was to set up three or four large State lotteries. His only record in relation to this problem is the Betting Duty, which he brought in in spite of all the recommendations of commissions on the subject, and two or three years later, with his usual intrepidity, he had to take the position suggested by Edmund Burke in the words:If I cannot reform with equity, I will not reform at all.That is his only experiment in this territory, and that was an experiment made in spite of the protests of those who were well able to advise and of a committee set up by his predecessor, now the Lord President of the Council, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1923, and a certain number of us were appointed in this House upon that Select Committee and advised against that proposal. The right hon. Gentleman set that advice on one side and acted on his own initiative and his own illimitable resources rather than upon the advice of those who were qualified to advise, and three or four years later he had to admit that he had simply led his forces up the hill and was now leading them down again. That was his contribution, so that when I congratulate the Home Secretary it is not necessary for him to make the ironic comment he did.
§ Mr. FOOT
There is one other point.. Again and again by the right hon. Gentleman we have been accused of being repressors of liberty. The right hon. Gentleman quoted from Lord Halifax, the famous trimmer. Does he know another quotation from the same source?If only those had liberty who were able to define it, there would be few free men in the world.Abraham Lincoln said:The world has never had a definition of liberty, and the American people are very much in need of one.1905 I have been waiting for a definition of liberty in this Debate. One hon. Member has defined liberty as: Whenever a man wanted to bet there should be facilities, and whenever he wanted to drink there should be facilities. One cannot bet or drink unless there is somebody to administer facilities, which he seemed to forget. I use that as an illustration, because it was given in this House. The question of liberty was dealt with in detail by the commission. The commissioners were not like myself, for I am accused of being a killjoy and busybody. These were people who themselves knew all about sport, who knew more about sport than most Members of this House, and who decided that the whole case was that they would not interfere with liberty. They said:We take as our starting point the distinction referred to between private gambling, between individuals and facilities for organised gambling. In our view the State should not interfere with private gambling between individuals. What it should be concerned with is organised gambling, which is an interference with individual liberty.The whole of the case of the Commissioners is directed against that kind of gambling. This is directed against those who prey on the frailty of their fellows, and who have made vast sums by putting within the reach of people not able to protect themselves these temptations to make themselves rich at the degradation of their homes. In the case of embezzlement the first question asked is whether the accused has been betting. There is not one Member who, if he had a man dealing with his financial affairs and knew that he was betting, would not keep a close scrutiny on that man. The first question in embezzlement on the big railways, is, "Has he been betting?" I have been in touch with this. I have seen youths, not necessarily of great advantage to the State, ruined by this, my sympathy being with them and against those who put facilities for betting in their way.
When we dealt with the question of lotteries the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) did not remind the House of the two votes on lotteries. He spoke of one in 1932. He carried that on the First Reading. I am sorry to see that he has fallen under the influence of his surroundings. I do not want to take advantage at this time of his being 1906 indifferent to our discussions. I was only pointing out that while it is true that when he brought forward a proposal upon this matter in 1932 he carried the First Reading by 176 votes to 123, he has not reminded the House that there was another vote in the previous year—
§ Mr. FOOT
It was not; it was a Parliament in which there was a Socialist Government. I hope my hon. Friends will be more careful in their language. I want to point out what was done then. When this proposal was made by the hon. Member then, when there were Members in the House who were representative of the different elements in the country, it secured only 58 votes, and it was defeated with 181 votes in the Lobby.
§ Mr. FOOT
Not merely by Liberals and Socialists, but by the more reasonable members of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs. The hon. Member suggested, as he did the other night, that we ought to have sweepstakes to sweep away the slums, but we believe that the slums have been very largely maintained and created by the losses that have fallen upon the masses of our people consequent upon the extent of the gambling habit.
§ Mr. FOOT
My hon. Friend has forgotten some of his earlier ideals. It is suggested that some of these social advantages should be carried through by this policy, but I do not think that the slums of this country are going to be swept away by a policy that puts lotteries on our shoulders. I apologise to the House for having spoken so long. It is only the interruptions that have caused me to take longer than I should 1907 have clone. I close, as I began, with commending the Government for insisting on carrying through the Bill. It is not the Bill we should have asked for or the Bill we would have drawn. Give us a Liberal Government and we will show you a good Bill, but as long as we have not the opportunity of translating our ideal into immediate legislative action, we have to look to the Bill that most nearly expresses our own purpose. The Government along these lines have acted courageously and in the public interest.
§ 10.58 p.m.
§ Mr. JOEL
I support the rejection of this Bill. Now that we are drawing to the close of its long career I consider that the Government and the ardent supporters of this Bill, which we have noted are chiefly to be found on the Liberal and Opposition Benches, should seriously consider whether the time spent on it has been worth it. Were the many days that were spent on Standing Committee upstairs worth it, and were all the days, including a considerable amount of overtime, that have been spent on the Bill in the House worth it? I think that they were decidedly not because I believe that the Bill will not have any appreciable effect on diminishing the volume of betting which takes place throughout the country. That, I understand, is the main purpose of the Bill. The Bill may result, although we are told it is not one of its objects, in killing a, great number of greyhound tracks. If we passed a, short Measure banning dog racing altogether it would, in my opinion, have no appreciable effect on the volume of betting in the country; for this reason, that I do not believe there is a public that bets on dogs and does not bet on horses. Many people bet on horses who do not bet on dogs, but I do not believe the converse is true. If people cannot bet on the one they will bet more on the other. I often wonder whether many Members of this House fully realise the amount of betting that does take place. Certainly, judging from two of the speeches I heard last night, or, rather, early this morning, there are at least two Members who do not. I wonder how many Members have stood in a street bookmaker's office and watched the continuous stream of customers and runners coming in with bets, mostly small bets in pence, sixpences and shillings; and I 1908 wonder how many Members have observed milkmen and other roundsmen collecting betting slips on their rounds. All those bets are made on horses and not on dogs.
Betting on horses takes place all over the country every day. I am sure that many men and women in Glasgow or in Crewe will bet on horses at Lingfield or Birmingham,, but I very much doubt whether any constituents of the Home Secretary or of the Solicitor-General would bet on a dog in Birmingham. I believe that practically all betting on dog racing is confined to the people who attend the tracks, a very small proportion of the sum total of betting, and therefore I do not believe we should appreciably decrease the volume of betting by killing dog racing altogether; and surely it is better that people who bet, and who will continue to bet after this Bill has become an Act, shall do so while spending their evenings in the open air, betting on dogs which they take an interest in, rather than betting on horses running in a race at the other end of the country which they never see. Besides, in the one case they are betting legally and in the other, unless they are rich enough to have credit facilities, they are betting illegally. Yet this Bill restricts the average number of dog racing days to two a week. It is, I believe, entirely useless and unnecessary and a terribly aggravating infringement of the rights of the private citizen to take his legal enjoyment—for it is legal two nights a week—when he chooses or when those who purvey it to him are willing to give it.
Again, although the Bill legalises totalisators on dog tracks it insists that they should be electrically operated. That is the real sting in Part I of the Bill. It means that the Government are giving something with one hand and taking it away with the other. The cost of the electrically-controlled totalisator makes it prohibitive on the smaller tracks. The Government say that they do this in the interests of the public getting a square deal. I suggest that that is nonsense. I have betted on totalisators in two countries outside England, in France and South Africa, and in both cases the totalisators are hand-operated or partially hand-operated, and are efficient, and the Government in most cases have an interest in seeing that the totalisators 1909 are well conducted, because they take a considerable proportion of the "rake off".
The Home Secretary says he wishes to protect the public, but he does not wish to protect them to the extent of differentiating between efficiently run and dishonestly run tracks. He has refused to set up a control board such as was advocated on the Second Reading of the Bill, and has refused to make any conditions or to institute a minimum charge for admission. He only wishes to protect the public from dishonestly run totes to the extent that they shall not have any tote at all. I will not stress his attitude to the other forms of gambling, such as the football pool, in which any swindler can defraud the public as much as he likes without arousing the Home Secretary's compassion for the poor public that needs so much looking after if it is a question of dog racing or lotteries. No satisfactory explanation has been given as to why the Government thought fit to drop the Clause dealing with football pools. We believe the reason was that the Government were alarmed at the opposition that the Clause seemed to arouse. I only wish I could think they are saving a loss of votes by having dropped that Clause. I am sorry they have not had the extra courage to go the whole hog and deal with the form of gambling which is most open to fraud.
No one seems to have considered the extra amount of work that this legislation will put upon the police. In the last few weeks the Minister of Transport, the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary have brought in enough new rules and regulations to require very considerable expansion of the police forces. This House goes gaily on, passing penal legislation, and no one seems to worry about it except the chief constables, who know that they cannot enforce it. I regret that the members of another place did not take the opportunity of rejecting the Bill when it was first brought in. They would have had the wholehearted support of the man in the street and they would have entrenched themselves for at least a generation against the onslaughts of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). I hope that those who do not wish to encourage the Government to pare away still further the rights of the citizen without doing anything 1910 useful to reduce what so many consider the growing evil of gambling and without effectively protecting us from any evil, will oppose the Bill in the Division Lobby.
§ 11.10 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
The Under-Secretary, in moving the Third Reading, said that the Government were indebted to the back-bench Members on their side for not having spoken, either here or during the Committee stage. It seemed to me that that was rather a doubtful compliment. We back-benchers who support the Government were not sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) intervened, for, if he had not intervened, the greater part of the opposition would have rested with the vociferous representatives of vested interests. Nobody who was upstairs in the Committee would doubt that for one moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping really made good use of his opportunities, but it was obvious that he had not studied the Bill very thoroughly. Yesterday he made one speech in which he accused the Home Secretary of lack of care in preparing his work, comparing him very unfavourably with the late Lord Balfour, who took immense trouble in getting his work perfect; but then he completely shifted his ground, and complained that the Home Secretary was indulging in Machiavellian plots against the people's liberties.
The fact of the matter is that most of the opposition to this Bill has come from those who simply wanted a stick with which to beat the Government, and, if anybody wants proof of that, they have only to look at the Division lists. When anything of this sort crops up, the same people appear in the Division lists who vote against the Government on India, on the Statute of Westminster, or on anything which gives them the opportunity of beating their own drum and beating the Government. Whether this Measure is a wise one cm tactical grounds is another matter, but that it is a wise Measure on its own merits I have not the least doubt, and I hope that the House will accord it a Third Reading by a large majority.
§ 11.13 p.m.
§ Mr. ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I am not one of the vociferous representatives of 1911 vested interests, but, for all that, I am afraid I am an opponent of this Bill. It is with great regret that I find myself in that position, because I supported the Second Reading, for at that time I thought that the Bill could be hammered out into a good, workmanlike shape; but since it has been brought down to the Floor of the House, and the Whips have been turned on, it has been decided entirely on grounds of party loyalty, and not on its merits at all. That makes me think that, as it stands, it is not a Measure which the country wants. The remark of the Under-Secretary with which I was most in accord was when he said that in this Bill the Government were trying to canalise betting. I only wish they had seen fit to go a little further in that direction. By removing the ban on sweepstakes they might have taken a step towards diverting the gambling instinct into a comparatively harmless channel.
All of us know that the gambling instinct is there; its existence cannot be denied, and it cannot be suppressed: and our duty, surely, is to direct it where it will do the least harm. I believe that taking a ticket in a sweepstake, as long as the sweepstake is large enough, might go a long way towards satisfying the craze for a "flutter" on the part of the ordinary person. That is the reason why I voted for a national lottery and not because I am particularly enthusiastic about national lotteries as such. Following the Home Secretary's most valid argument, as I thought, that the Treasury were not in favour of a national lottery, I should have been perfectly content with a private lottery authorised by the Government for some worthy object, though as far as the object goes, I have always thought that what became of the profit was a matter of entirely secondary importance as long as they were not stolen. My concern has always been for the millions of people whose lives are brightened up a little by taking a ticket in a sweep.
I believe that a big sweep once or twice a year provides for the best money's worth that one can get in the way of gambling. You get a maximum of fun for a minimum of expense, a maximum of excitement and anticipation, looking forward to the best way of 1912 making a dull, dreary day pass pleasantly. When a man buys a ticket or a share of a ticket in a sweepstake he is in fact buying hope, and hope is one of the most precious things in this wicked world. Further the degree of hope increases with the size of the sweepstake, in the same way that the degree of disappointment diminishes, because no reasonable man could be seriously upset if he failed to win a chance when he knew that the betting was a million to one against winning. Equally it is a surprise when one wins an enormous sum like £30,000. Surely everyone who has a share in a sweep is going to dream of what he will do with the money if he wins it, whether he will buy a house or go round the world or perhaps just get married. The only argument that I can see in favour of a small charity sweepstake is the claim of the charity for which it is run. Surely the claims of charity on a big scale must be as great or greater than charity on a small scale. But the point is not where the profits go. There has been far too much talk about where the proceeds go, what matters is whether people shall be allowed to have their fun. I do not see why a person should be driven to encourage others to break the law and sending his money to Ireland when he wants to buy a sweepstake ticket.
If there is one thing that is demoralising to the sense of discipline of people and sense of duty of the police it is making an offence of what all of us know in our hearts is really no crime at all. I can think of no better way to bring law-abiding citizens into contact with the law than by trying to repress sweepstakes on the lines of this Bill. The only efficient way to prevent money going over to Dublin is to run a sweepstake here instead. But I suppose it is too late to hope for that now. Because the Government got a majority on this matter last week I suppose they think the country is with them. I only hope it is. But because I am afraid that public opinion is against them on this question of sweepstakes I must vote against the Bill.
§ 11.20 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I wish to state my views on the question before the House. The Under-Secretary made a very competent speech, perhaps the most 1913 competent speech of all the debates in many ways. He pointed out what the Bill sought to do and what it did not attempt to do. He pointed out its effects, and in a very frank way claimed that it was not a logical Measure, and that in betting and gambling this country never was logical. To some extent he had taken away the ground of argument which might be used against him. However, I look upon the Bill with deep misgivings. When the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), in what I think was the finest speech he has ever made in this House, spoke on the Second Reading, there was one point in his speech which appealed to the House. He mentioned the Harringay track in London and the Carntyne track in Glasgow and said that they were establishing creches where they brought children of four, five and six years of age to play during the hours the greyhound racing was on. That was his argument in connection with the matter. The common folk, whatever they thought, did not like to see children taken to the greyhound racing track and reared among betting and gambling. He made great play of that fact. I think that the Bill will perpetuate that of which he complained.
I will briefly sketch the origin of the Measure. A Royal Commission was set up in 1923, and not merely the Conservative Government, but the Labour Government, to whom the report was made, refused to act. It was said that the gambling problem was not such as to call for legislation. That was what the Labour Government said in 1924. A certain legal decision was given in the courts to the effect that the totalisator was illegal on a greyhound track, and it was because of that that the present Bill was introduced, so that it might become part and parcel of the legislation. The power behind it was not the effects of gambling, or that gambling was an evil and was ruining the morale of the people, but the decision in the courts. I will be frank. I am one of the few here who holds a sort of dual personality. I have betted possibly as much as, or more than most hon. Members. I have never bought an Irish Sweep ticket or a sweepstake of any sort in my life, and I have no wish to buy one, as the odds are too big against you.
1914 What was the noticeable thing when the totalisator came to the greyhound track? Le us be frank. It was that there was immediately a great increase in the attendance of women at the track. Totalisator betting was different from the bookmaker, and it made its appeal. I have attended dog races not as a Member of Parliament but as an ordinary member of the public. Everybody knows that women began to attend in large numbers when the totalisator was introduced. Now that the totalisator has gone the attendance of women and children every week is on the decrease. This Bill, backed by the anti-gamblers and by those who say that their fight is against gambling, is for the re-establishment of the totalisator, which will mean a greater attraction for the women than ever before. Leave greyhound racing alone. Leave it to the bookmaker and you will see the attendances going down and down. The bookmaker is no attraction for the women. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) says: "I am backing the totalisator," and everybody who knows greyhound betting knows that the women will flock back to the totalisator and leave their children in worse dangers than the danger of taking them to the dog tracks. They will leave them to dangers at home. We are re-establishing the totalisator, which will bring the women back to greyhound racing. This is done in the name of morality, and those who are opposed to it are said to be speaking for vested interests.
Who wants the Bill? Look at the combination. The hon. and gallant Member for Twickenham (Brigadier-General Critchley) wants the Bill. Let the Greyhound Racing Trust speak. The hon. and gallant Member has been gasping for the Bill in the last few days because greyhound racing in Britain run by his association cannot live without the totalisator.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It may live in London, but go to the provinces, to Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and elsewhere, and you will find the attendances diminishing. Even in London attendances have been diminishing since the 1915 totalisator went. In the name of holiness and morality the attendances are to be made to mount up by the re-establishment of the totalisator. Far from diminishing the evil it will increase it. The hon. Member for Bodmin said that we were not in touch with the people. I do not claim to be more in touch with them than he is, but I live among them. I almost live at the Employment Exchange. My wife and I move among the people day in and day out. We have been told that we must dam the flood of betting, and where there is a leak we must patch it up. Take care that in patching it you do not create a greater flood in some other place. Mankind is not very bad but not too good, and, if you stop a man from doing something, he has a wonderful inventive genius for inventing something else.
You must take care that you do not create a greater evil. The Noble Lady is constantly denouncing the liquor trade, but what is actually happening in Glasgow 7 The records show that when there is an increase in gambling the number of offences for illtreating women and children go down. A man who has a small limited sum to spend can either take to drink, to gambling or to a vice which is unmentionable. He chooses to have a gamble. He turns from one vice to another which is perhaps not so dangerous or demoralising. Those who know the dangers of gambling realise that the Bill does not stop it. Street betting is rife in my division. But is the man who carries on street betting looked down upon? Not a bit of it. I am waiting for some of them to be elected to the town council. He is not looked upon as being a bad person, but as a kind of hero who has jinked the police for a long time. And the oftener you can jink the police the greater the hero you become.
In the case of most other crimes the public resent the offence, they do not like it, but the difference in regard to betting crimes is that the person who commits a crime is applauded. If he gets a book of Irish Sweepstake tickets and starts to sell them he may get 60 days' imprisonment. The real punishment is not the time spent in prison but the moral stigma attaching to a crime. The men who went to prison during the War for refusing to 1916 fight never felt the punishment of prison. The Ulstermen who went to gaol for certain offences never felt the punishment because no moral stigma attached to the crime. Before punishment can have any effect there must be moral stigma attaching to the offence. No moral stigma is connected with a betting offence, indeed the man who can evade the law the most will probably be the most popular man in the district. You are putting the police in an impossible position. What will happen will be, not that the policeman will be fined but that his own family and relatives will be fined, and that is mean and contemptible. Generally speaking, detectives and police are assisted by the public. They could never catch half the criminals they do catch if it were not for the assistance that the public give. But what about bettors? The public will not assist the police but will do everything to assist the so-called culprit. The position will be that the police will have a most disagreeable job to do.
The Bill provides a right of entry on almost any miserable pretext. It is not a Bill which touches or seeks to minimise the gambling problem. In my opinion the tote will extend gambling and will attract the women to the dog tracks. Those who know the tote know that it is the very poorest section that it exploits the most. Tote betting grows with people who can least afford it. The Bill establishes the principle of the totalisator. It is true that it seeks to minimise profits, but it establishes the most vicious form of social menace in betting, and those who support it must take the consequences of their action. If you were going to prevent people spending money on this evil for the sake of social good one might support the Bill. But that will not happen. The Bill will only make the crime a respectable crime, and will extend the evil.
For these reasons I shall have pleasure in voting against the Government. There are 101 greater evils that require attention. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said that gambling caused slums, or contributed to slums. Gambling is on the increase, admittedly, but a curious thing is that I have never seen a greater demand for better housing than there is now. Gambling is on the increase; drink is on the decrease. Never 1917 was the working man a finer father than he is now. That is the greatest test of a nation's progress. Despite gambling never were working women and men better mothers and fathers than now. This is needless legislation and will not cure the evil.
§ 11.40 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I support the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), and I oppose the Third Reading of the Bill. Because of the undertaking entered into earlier, that these proceedings should be brought to a close at a certain hour, I shall be brief and I do not propose to recapitulate and marshal once again all the powerful arguments which can be advanced against Part II of the Bill. But I would like to make a reference to the suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary that his supporters in the House were to be congratulated on having kept silence, under great provocation, in these Debates. This is, after all, the forum of the nation. Those who support Part II of the Bill have had many opportunities of speaking in favour of their views, but I am within the recollection of the House in saying that the overwhelming majority of the speeches made in support of the Bill have come from the Liberal benches. There is very little support among the Conservative party for a Measure of this kind. The real support for the Bill comes from those people who, like the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), cannot believe that the great mass of the working population are capable of enjoying liberty without allowing it to degenerate into licence. They are prepared to ask the humblest people in the land, without any expert knowledge on such matters, to give considered judgments on the Gold Standard or Indian constitutional reform, but when it comes to a question of this kind, on which the average person is peculiarly qualified to speak, they are content to put into practice Measures of this nature and strangle the freedom of liberty-loving people by legislation which we believe to be grandmotherly.
We, on this side, have very little objection to Part I. We believe that something had to be done, consequent upon legal decisions in regard to the matters with which it deals, though we would 1918 have liked a betting control board, such as was suggested in the Committee upstairs. But we emphatically believe that Part II is a muddle of hypocrisy and humbug. We believe that the introduction of the right of search in connection with venial and trivial offences is an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the private individual. At a time when, all over the world, liberties are endangered and constitutional institutions are crumbling, we enter a most emphatic protest against Part II of the Bill and express the hope that this will be the last legislation promulgated by this Government which will foster the view, held by some of my hon. Friends, that the working class and the great mass of the people are not capable of making up their own minds on how to use reasonable liberty in a proper way.
§ 11.43 p.m.
The hon. Member who has just spoken talked about "grandmotherly legislation." Unfortunately, your grandmothers did not legislate—they had not the vote—otherwise, the country to-day would be even better than it is. I am not complaining of the state of the country to-day, but when people talk in that strain about "grandmotherly legislation" I must complain about their mentality. I have sat through most of the proceedings on this Bill. The Home Secretary commended us for our silence. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] Well I am very pleased that certain interruptions had a good effect. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) would have talked all night and until ten o'clock in the morning if he had not been interrupted. But I wish to offer my congratulations to the Home Secretary upon the stand which he has taken. It has been a very difficult fight all through. When the Government takes the side of the angels, it naturally comes up against the reverse, and in this case it has met with opposition from the quality of mind which opposes all social measures. Real social and moral reforms always come up against the same mentality, and it has been interesting to me during the many years I have been in this House to watch the working of that kind of conscience. There are people who on these occasions always talk about the liberty of the working man, and the freedom of conscience of the people and 1919 about a beneficent Government taking decisions out of their hands and passing legislation over their heads.
If hon. Members read the Debates of the past they will find that every single social reform since time immemorial has met with exactly that same kind of argument. The right hon. Member for Epping need not look at me. I am one of the few people who are neither impressed by nor afraid of the right hon. Gentleman. Sometimes I am depressed, but never impressed, and certainly I am never afraid. The vested interests have been working up such opposition to the Bill throughout the country that they have got even Members of the House of Commons to speak for them, but I can assure those hon. Members that if they go to their constituencies and listen to the people interested in the real social and moral side of things, they will find that they are all backing the Government in this matter and only wish they could have gone even farther. The Government would have gone farther if it had not been for the very people who are here taunting them with not having gone farther. Anything more hypocritical than to say, "Why did you not include football pools?" as though they wanted the Government to include them, and as though they cared twopence about it, I cannot conceive. I have never heard a more humbug opposition. I used to think the drink trade had its representatives in the House, but that is nothing to the betting and gambling trade. I am not, of course, saying all the Members, but I have never seen vested interests more represented in the House than I have over this Betting Bill. Not that the right hon. Member for Epping cares twopence about vested interests. He only saw a chance to make speeches and lead an attack against the Government, and a pretty feeble attack it was. I should have thought, after all his experience of public life in the House of Commons, he would have known that even his oratory could not carry this sham fight off. The Government have been taunted with being supported by Liberals, Socialists and cranks. The right hon. Member for Epping is a pretty one to be talking about Liberals. The first time that I remember hearing about the right hon. Gentleman was when he was a Liberal, and I heard him 1920 described in my division by the late Leo Maxse as "half an alien and wholly undesirable." To-night I heard a happy reference to my native State of Virginia, but that was in 1612. My family had not left England then. They did not go till 1673, and they are purely British. That is why I know—
The hon. Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming) is constantly interrupting. I for one am not ashamed of my American ancestry, because it is English in origin. That is why I have never felt an alien in England, for I understand the social, moral and spiritual point of view here. I know when the Government are fighting on this question that it is fighting for the soul of England.
We are taunted with being Socialists, Liberals, hypocrites and humbugs. I am glad, for social progress has always been started by cranks, by social reformers really interested in the moral state of the people. We had a commission which said what it considered was best for the country. The Government, when it got the commission's report, was bound to act upon it. I do not say it is a perfect Bill. Many of us think we could have produced a better one. The right hon. Member for Epping is a man of parts and of many pasts. I have never known him right. I remember when the Betting Bill was brought in he attacked me in the House and in the Lobby. I remember him perfectly well telling me that I belonged to the Conservative party, and, if I did not like it, why did I not leave it? I then told him I was not so used to leaving my party as he was. It is quite true that the Tory party gets some people with no vision, and with, I think, a very curious outlook as far as the country is concerned. The Tory party has never been made by them, never run by them. I remember a young man saying to me, "How can we follow these 1921 diehards?" I said, "Don't you see the difference; we keep our diehards on the back benches, whereas most of the diehards of the other party get on to the Front Bench."
I really think that in the short time left we should devote ourselves to the subject under consideration.
It is quite right that a National Government should bring in a Bill that has the support of Socialists, Liberals and progressive Tories. It would have been wrong to bring in a Bill that only had the support of vested interests and the reactionary section of our own party. I am perfectly certain that in future this Bill will be a bright spot in the Government's record. I think the country expects this kind of Measure from them, and does not expect them to listen to those on the back benches or to be frightened by the right hon. Member for Epping, who, though brilliant, never leads us anywhere.
§ 11.54 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
I have not taken part in to-day's discussion, simply because I did not want to protract the business. We are now drawing to the conclusion of this Bill, and I wish to congratulate the Minister on his tenacity of purpose and on being Adamant and refusing to change his mind. I also want to compliment the Under-Secretary on the able manner in which he has expressed his opinions and given expositions of the real meaning of the Bill. But my criticism of them as exponents of a Government which is National remains. My remarks have never been personal, but have been applied to the Bill only. We are told that, although the Measure is inconsistent and illogical, we have to accept it. We are also told that it should be made operative because a Royal Commission expressed certain opinions, which by the way the Government are not carrying out in the Bill. The Debates have shown a remarkable psychology in the House. Members of all parties have patted themselves on the back on the fact that at last the menace of a social evil was being dealt with. But what is this social evil? A bit of rag fastened on to a piece of tin running round a track The Government deal with dog-racing and then it is claimed that a social evil has been 1922 dealt with. Yet in our streets there are thousands of bookmakers making books and betting ad libitum. Then there is betting on the racecourses and the football pools which are taking hundreds of thousands of pounds. This Measure is indicative of the illogicality, the nonsense and the nudity of the National Government, and Members will be dragooned into accepting it by a big majority.
The Home Secretary has been complimented on his courage in dealing with a social evil. Where is the courage in dealing with a little bit of rag on a piece of tin? He has not dealt with the real social evils of betting. An hon. Member said children were left at the gates of the dog tracks. We have in Liverpool the Grand National and on that day the whole city is held up. Close upon a million people travel through the city to the Grand National. That event has never been denounced in this House as a social evil. But a few dog tracks, with 300 or 400 people attending them, are a social evil, to be denounced by those associated with horse racing, by racehorse owners, in this House. They say nothing against horse racing, which is ruining hundreds and thousands of our people. One of the Liberal Members, the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), told us that when a case of embezzlement comes before a court the question asked is, "Have you been betting on the dogs?" I have not heard that question asked and I have been to court very often, but what many Members must have heard is the question "Do you get a proper week's wage paid you?" How many people find their way into the dock at the police court because they are badly paid?
We have heard of the child with a mother at the dog track; but there are also mothers who regret to see their children attending racecourses. What is the use of moralising? We are living in an age of reason, when people have a right to those pleasures which do no injury to their fellow men. The anti-gamblers and the teetotal fanatics will never be able to remedy this state of affairs. The Bill has been brought in simply to suit the fanatics of the House. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) has spoken of the courage of the Home Secretary and thanked him for it. I want to put that courage to the test. This 1923 Measure was first sent to a Committee of the House upstairs and afterwards brought down to be dealt with in Committee on the Floor of the House. It was taken out of the hands of the Committee, who were told they were not a fit and proper body to deal with it. But when the Bill was brought back to the House we were denied the right to deal with that portion of it which had already been considered by the Committee. Discredited though they were, they were supposed to be authoritative enough to deal with that part. I am going to ask the Home Secretary a question which will put his courage to the test. His Government has the biggest majority that any Government has had. Will he agree to the House having a free vote on this Bill? Why should we not have an honest test of the opinion of the House? I am consistent; I have been against the Bill in the past and am against it now, and I am prepared to go into the Lobby against it, but I want a free vote of the House.
§ 12.5 a.m.
§ Mr. BAILEY
I shall be very brief, as the hour is so late, and though opposing the Bill, I want to do nothing to interfere with the arrangements between the Home Secretary and his new political allies in regard to their trains. Most of us rather resent—I do not want to use too strong a word—some of the suggestions that have been made. It has been suggested that we are the same people who are always out to oppose the Government, but on 90 per cent. of questions that come before this House we have voted in their favour. Take that unpopular Measure, the Unemployment Act; we thought it was right to vote for it. I resent such attempts to capture support for a Measure which is not sound. In regard to the constant attacks upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), I think that when the right hon. Gentleman's voice is silent and when history comes to be written, the tribute paid to him as the man who was responsible for our Navy being in a position to defend our shores when the War came will be higher than any tribute which he receives from some unthinking Members of this House. There are other men—or at least one other man—sitting in another portion of 1924 this House whose record is not so honourable. I wish to say no more than that. We do not wish to found the Debate on the India question, or on any other question, upon personal issues, but, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping is to be attacked, we shall in return attack others whose record in regard to patriotism is far more vulnerable.
On the question of preventing gambling, I should be the first to support the Government if I thought that that would be the likely result of the Bill. We know that that will not be the result. The Government are afraid to control the vices of the people so they are seeking to prohibit their pleasures. If the Government had tried to stop street betting I would have been among the first to support them; I will support any Government who try to do that. It is wrong for a Government called National to allow corruption of the police to go on wholesale in our streets and bogus prosecutions to take place, and not to lift a finger to stop it, and then to come along with dummy Measures and pretend that they satisfy the consciences of the House of Commons and of the people. Those who continue to buy tickets in sweepstakes will be far more national than the Government. I do not want to abuse the Government; Heaven knows their position is sufficiently vulnerable without any of us trying to make it worse. Big evils have not been attacked. It is useless to talk about vested interests. We asked for a reasonable Amendment in regard to hospital lotteries. Are hospitals, vested interests? If they are, they are interests for which many of us would be proud to collect.
What the country wants from this Government is not a series of Measures which are acceptable to the Liberals and the Opposition, or are marking time; not a series of betrayals of our great Imperial trust, but a series of constructive Measures dealing with the dark spots of unemployment. We do not want these twopenny-halfpenny Bills but something that is worthy of a National Government. This Bill is based on hypocrisy and on the type of speech which the Under-Secretary would have scorned to make when in opposition. This sort of thing is not the fruits that we should expect from a National Government. For that reason, while we shall always support the Gov- 1925 ernment so long as they remain National, we shall always oppose them when they go off the rails. We shall regard it as a sign that they have gone off the rails when they receive the commendation of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot).
§ 12.10 a.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I do not understand the reason for such rushing tactics at this hour, when we were kept up till five or six o'clock this morning. I only rise because of one or two observations of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). He has suggested that, in opposing certain Clauses of the Bill, I have deserted ideals that he believed I possessed; but, after applying my powers of reasoning to title Bill, I can see neither ideals nor morality nor common justice in any of its Clauses. It is certainly not the duty of the Liberal party to lecture us in this House as to what we should do in connection with the Bill. I have never seen in this House a party that has wobbled about so much as that party. They began by being elected to the House with the support of the Conservative party in the country; then they pursued the policy of agreeing to differ; now they are agreeing to agree with the National Government, and are going into the Lobby to support it. In connection with the hon. Member's statement that I have deserted my ideals—
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
I never used the word "deserted." What I said was that the hon. Member's action was not up to the level of his own ideals.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
If the hon. Member had followed the speeches, even of some of the supporters of the Bill, he would have heard the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and others point out that the Bill fails to deal with pool betting, which gives greater latitude to people to defraud the general public than is given by any other form of betting in this country. The Bill is a half-baked Measure. If the Government had intended to deal thoroughly with the question of betting, they would, instead of coming to the House with this badly considered Measure, have given to a Committee of the House the right to 1926 arrive at some general agreement on the method of dealing with the question. Instead of that they brought before she House a Bill with regard to which the Under-Secretary, when he was closely questioned last night and the Government were evidently in retreat, had to say that it would be for the Courts to decide what was the meaning of a certain Clause. Fancy representative Members of a Government coming before the House and saying that a Clause cannot be explained by the very people who are piloting it through the House, but that it will be for the Courts to decide what it really means.
This afternoon we have had the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that, instead of dealing with the Irish Sweepstake, he has given great scope for every individual to carry on that sweepstake in the most efficient manner possible. Great charges have been made against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) because he kept the House up last night, and the allegation has been made that he has had a mind of a changing character. It is not necessary for me to defend the actions of the right hon. Gentleman, but at any rate I would prefer a mind that can change rather than one that can never change. We have in this House too many minds that can never change, that are docile and trained by Government Whips to operate in an efficient, machine-like manner when Members are commanded to go into the Lobby.
The Government can have their Bill. They have had comparatively little trouble in the House with it. When it goes through, the difficulties will begin for them and for the authorities. In regard to street betting, I have only 30 years acquaintance with the area that I represent. I know the people and I know the working-class attitude. I have seen betting going on in every street and every tenement in the East end of Glasgow. I have seen the dodging of special policemen, in and out, chasing the bookmakers, and the general mass of the people assisting the bookmakers, bringing them into their houses in order to escape the authorities. I have seen policemen time and again warning the bookmakers that special men were put on to catch them. I have known police- 1927 men placing bets with bookmakers whom they were supposed to be chasing. This sort of thing is developing. It will be extended under the Bill.
The Government have done nothing seriously to grapple with the so-called gambling evil. They have done nothing to place it on a proper basis. They have done nothing to eliminate the worst forms of fraud in the betting world. They have sought to deal in a restrictive manner with certain lines of betting. They brought in a Bill to legalise the totalisator and packed it with inconsistencies. Members expected to make it a better Bill in Committee but it has never been improved. The Government has shown no disposition to meet the overwhelming opinion of hon. Members and of the people. They seem to be entirely blind to the wishes and mind of the general population. Let them go on. They are going along a road which will end in disaster for them. They will know in due course the amount of opposition to the Bill in the country. The Home Secretary has used the Whips to
|Division No. 412.]||AYES.||[12.20 a.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Daggar, George||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Albery, Irving James||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P|
|Allen, Sir Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Denville, Alfred||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Banfield, John William||Dabble, William||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Barclay-Harvey. C. M.||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hornby, Frank|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Duggan, Hubert John||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N)||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Dunglass, Lord||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Blindell, James||Edwards, Charles||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Jamleson, Douglas|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Elmley, Viscount||John, William|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Buchan, John||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Leckie, J. A.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Campbell. Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Leonard, William|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lister, Rt. Hon, Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Chapman. Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Goldie, Noel B.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Clarke, Frank||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Graves, Marjorie||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Greene, William P. C.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Grimston, R. V.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Guest, Capt. At. Hon. F. E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Copeland, Ida||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milner, Major James|
|Cross, R. H.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
§ drive Members into the Lobby against their will. In spite of the most pressing messages to every section of the House to be here, 466 Members refused to come. The country will not fail to recognise that the Government have only been able to press the Bill through with the smallest majority and they know that Members are going into the Lobby believing that they ought not to. I have heard hon. Members say it is a rotten Measure and they hate it, but they want to be loyal to the Government. The Government can have that machine-forced loyalty but in my belief it can only lead to disaster.
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 206; Noes, 38.
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Rea, Walter Russell||Stones, James|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Nunn, William||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Stuart Lord C. Crichton-|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Ormiston, Thomas||Rickards, George William||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Roberts, Med (Wrexham)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Orr Ewing, I. L.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Owen, Major Goronwy||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Train, John|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Peake, Osbert||Runge, Norah Cecil||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Peat, Charles U.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Penny, Sir George||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'1)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Petherick, M.||Salt, Edward W.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||White, Henry Graham|
|Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Shute, Colonel J. J.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Pybus, Sir John||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Radford, E. A.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dlne,C.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Somervell, Sir Donald||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Soper, Richard||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Spens, William Patrick||Sir Victor Warrender and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Ray, Sir William||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||North, Edward T.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Hanley, Dennis A.||Remer, John R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Templeton, William P.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Levy, Thomas||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Buchanan, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||McGovern, John|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Marsden, Commander Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Maxton, James||Mr. Lennox-Boyd and Mr. Hunter.|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelies||Moss, Captain H. J.|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.1930
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock upon Tuesday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Twenty-eight Minutes after Twelve o'Clock.