§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.20 a.m.
§ Mr. ALAN HERBERT
On a point of Order. I rise to take objection to this Bill before the Second Reading, according to the practice of the House, on the ground that it is improperly prepared, that is to say that the contents of the Bill exceed the description of the Bill as announced in its Title. I must apologise, first of all, to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell) for coming between him and the House in this way, but since he owes the position of this Bill on the Order Paper not to the exercise of any substantial degree of skill but to the operation of that element of chance of which he so much disapproves, I am sure that he will forgive me. According to the Title this is a Bill to:Make illegal the carrying on of any pari-mutuel or pool betting business, except so far as authorised by the Racecourse Betting Act, 1928, and the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, and for purposes connected with the matter aforesaid.This Bill is not a White Paper, and therefore we may take it that every word is used in its plain and ordinary meaning. There is nothing here about unilateral bets or symbolic footballs. The ordinary meaning of this Title is that nothing which is authorised in the two Acts referred to will be made illegal in this Bill. To make my point rather plainer, I ask hon. Members to suppose a Bill which stated in its Title that its object was to destroy all four-footed animals, except black cows. We should be exceedingly surprised to find in Clause 1 of that Bill that the majority of black cows were, in fact, to be destroyed. We should be still more astonished if, on further examination, we discovered that the essential purpose of the Bill was the destruction of the majority of black cows. That, I submit, is precisely the character of this Measure. Clause 1 does follow, in its structure, the lines of the Title, that is to say, in the first part of the Clause there is a general prohibition of pari-mutuel and pool betting business, and that is followed by a number of exceptions. Those exceptions are evidently intended to reproduce the conditions under 2312 which pool betting is authorised by the Acts of 1928 and 1939, but they do not reproduce all those conditions.
Until we hear the speech of the hon. Member for Eddisbury we cannot tell exactly what is in his mind, but we may use our imaginations and we may assume, for example, that it has some reference to what is called football pool betting. There is no doubt that under Clause 1 football pool betting is to he abolished because it is not included in the exceptions set out in the second part of the Clause. But the odd thing is this. Football pool betting conducted by a bookmaker on credit and through His Majesty's post is authorised by the Act of 1934, deliberately, definitely, unilaterally, if you like.
I had better go back a little. By Section 3 of the Act of 1934, no pari-mutuel or Pool betting business shall be carried on on any track except on an approved horse racecourse or on a licensed dog track, and there is also a prohibition of pool betting conducted in offices to which people resort, but there is no general prohibition of pool betting; that is to say, that pool betting of the character of football pool betting, office pool betting, on credit, by post, is quite untouched by that Section. But Parliament at the time when it passed that Act, anxious to preserve the pools—and many hon. Members here remember the day it happened—went further, and said that, although under the law football pools were still legal, and although they were not touched by Section 3 of the Act, they might be attacked under the provisions about illegal competitions, and therefore they added a proviso to Section 26, which dealt with illegal competitions, to the effect that it should be unlawful to conduct competitions for forecasts of future events or other competitions, success in which did not depend to a substantial degree upon the exercise of skill. So Parliament inserted a proviso as follows:Provided that nothing in this subsection with respect to the conducting of competitions in connection with a trade or business shall apply in relation to pari-mutuel or pool betting operations carried on by a person whose only trade or business is that of a bookmaker as defined in Part I of this Act.The definition of a bookmaker is very wide, Sir. I submit that it is as plain as a pikestaff that pool betting, office betting, on credit, by post, is authorised, 2313 if that means anything at all, by this Section. Therefore, in order for the body of the Bill to be consistent with the Title, that proviso ought to have been transferred to this Bill as was the other proviso to Section 3. If anybody doubts that the purpose of that Section was to protect football pool betting, he has only to refer to the debates on this proviso on 7th November, 1934, when Members in all parts of the House, and the Home Secretary himself, said that that was in fact the purpose of the proviso. The upshot is that anybody who knows anything about the betting laws—and there are not many—and who looks at the Title of this Bill will say, as I said at once to myself, that the football pools are safe, but when you get to the object of the Bill, you see that football pools are to be abolished. It is precisely that kind of discrepancy and internal contradiction that the rules in regard to the drafting of Bills are intended to prevent.
This is not a purely technical objection, for this reason: Suppose that this Bill passes into law as it stands—it is always to be assumed that one day some private Member's Bill will pass into law—and suppose a bookmaker is charged with running an office pool betting business, on credit, by post. What in the world are His Majesty's courts to make of the intention of Parliament? Under this Bill, Sub-section (3) of Clause 1, the offender is to be punished "in accordance with the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934," but under that very Act this operation is absolutely lawful; so that you will have the preposterous situation of a magistrate being asked to punish a man under the very Act in which the only Section referring to him says he is within the law. I think that is a very serious discrepancy. I therefore suggest that this Bill, to use the old phrase, is improperly prepared.
It is not for me, Sir, to suggest what course you should take, but I think I may say with respect that in times past the Speaker of this House and the House itself have seen fit in such cases where the impropriety of preparation was small to order that the discrepancy should be put right and amended in Committee. I submit that this is not one of those occasions, because this discrepancy goes to the very essential purpose of the Bill, and it is impossible to carry out that 2314 purpose without making such drastic alterations, both to the Title and to the object of the Bill, that the whole purpose of these rules would he defeated if it were amended in that way.
One word more. [HON. MEMBERS: "Point of Order!"] In this particular field of legislation so much confusion has been caused, so much chaos, so much expensive litigation, so much public irritation, so much provocation to the evasion of the law by such careless and faulty drafting as is here found that I think we should take special steps to avoid even running the risk of adding a single other ambiguity to the Statute Book. Let us remember that this Bill, which was first presented to Parliament eight weeks ago to-day, was only presented in printed form on Friday. For seven weeks the hon. Gentleman in charge of it has been sitting on this egg, and even before he rises I think it must be clear to all of us that it is imperfectly composed. I beg to take objection.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
On a point of Order. Is it permissible for an hon. Member of this House to take about 10 minutes in making a speech against a Bill under the cloak of raising a point of Order?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is not for me to say how long an hon. Member should take in putting a point of Order, but I agree that the hon. Member's submission was on the lengthy side.
§ 11.33 a.m.
§ Mr. R. J. RUSSELL
I shall be very glad to reply to the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert). I, for one, as an amateur lawyer am quite prepared to admit that when you come to face the problem of drafting a Bill, especially on such a complicated question as that of betting and the general gambling laws, there are bound to be points on which you have to be extremely careful. Therefore, I turn at once to—
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
On a point of Order. Is the Mover of the Bill now dealing with the point of Order?—If not may we have your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on the point of Order?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is replying on the point of Order put by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert).
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The suggestion is that the Bill as presented by me does not achieve its Title in so far as that Title is affected by Section 26 of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934. That Section refers to competitions and expressly states that pari-mutuel or pool betting shall not be interfered with on the ground that it is carried on by a bookmaker. The Betting (No. 1) Bill deals with pari-mutuel betting as a method of betting, and not as a competition, and therefore does not interfere with Section 26 of the 1934 Act. I am reinforced in my opinion on that point by the practice of the law so far as the operation of this Act is concerned. It so happens that yesterday I was looking up this point, because I knew that points were likely to arise in connection with the Bill. In my view, once the Government decision had been made to leave off-the-course pari-mutuel or pool betting outside the scope of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, that Measure was so drafted, and is now so worded as carefully to provide that at no point shall any of the provisions inpinge in a detrimental manner upon off-the-course pari-mutuel or pool operations. Consequently, an Act which sets out to avoid interference with such operations and to do no more than that in regard to them, cannot be held to authorise their existence. The proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 26 of the Act of 1934 provides that although certain forecasting competitions are declared illegal, pari-mutuel or pool operations shall not be declared illegal solely on the grounds that they are forecasting competitions. A judgment of Mr. Justice Eve in the case of Elderton v. United Kingdom Totalisator Co. Ltd., as reported in the "Times" Law Reports for 7th February, 1934, held that in any case pari-mutuel or pool operations are not to be interpreted as conducting forecasting competitions as referred to in Section 26. My view is that this ruling renders the proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 26 of no effect, since if pari-mutuel operations or pool operations are not competitions within the meaning of Section 26, the main part of Sub-section (1) cannot in any event interfere with such pool operations. Therefore, the 1934 Act cannot be held to authorise the existence of pari-mutuel or pool operations, and conse- 2316 quently, the long Title of this Bill, which sets out its purpose toMake illegal the carrying on of any pari-mutuel or pool betting business except so far as authorised by the Racecourse Betting Act, 1928, and the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, and for purposes connected with the matter aforesaid,does not imply the confirmation in being of any off-the-course pool betting which would be made illegal in this Bill. I submit that it is a rule of this House that in cases of doubt about a private Member's Bill, the Member should have the benefit of it; and as I believe I shall be able to show that the main purpose of this Bill is justifiable, I hope that I shall be given the benefit of the doubt.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It well be noticed that the Title of this Bill proposes to make illegal the carrying on of any pari-mutuel or pool betting business except so far as it is authorised by thE Racecource Betting Act, 1928, and the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934. The House will note the word "authorised" in the Title. Therefore, what I have to rule is only the question whether this Bill does make illegal something which has been authorised as legal by those Acts. I was considerably impressed by the arguments used by the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell) with regard to Section 26 of the Act of 1934, which to my mind is the only Section about which there is any doubt that this Bill contravenes. This Sections refers to restrictions on prize competitions, and its expressly states that a pari-mutuel competition shall not be interfered with on the ground that it is a prize competition. This Bill, as the hon. Member says, deals with pari-mutuel betting as a method of betting, and not as a competition. It does not, to my mind, appear to interfere with Section 26 of the 1934 Act. In other words, this Bill does not appear to make illegal that which was authorised as legal under the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934. It will be clear to the House, however, after hearing both hon. Members, that there is some doubt that might arise on this question from the legal point of view and in the legal mind. If that be so, I am going to accede to the hon. Member's request and give him the benefit of the doubt, and allow the House to decide upon the merits of the Bill.
§ 11.42 a.m.
§ Mr. R. J RUSSELL
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I am not unmindful of the fact that this Bill has caused much discussion in the country. Perhaps hon. Members have received many communications upon its subject matter. I have not, however, received much in the way of opposition literature, but what I have received has lacked nothing in emphasis. I am sure the House will be interested and amused at one sample message that I received a day or two ago. It was on a postcard, and, leaving out the expletives, it ran something like this:You spoil sport! Think of the workingmen who give you £8 a week. A lot of us would like to see your name on the list of killed on the road on the 1st of April.I am here on the 3rd of April and, therefore, that desire had not been fulfilled. As this Bill has been provocative of much discussion, I desire to give as much time as possible to the House for a fair consideration of its contents, and for that reason I propose to be as short as possible, stating only the salient facts of the case, believing that they will be sufficient in themselves to justify a Second Reading.
Let me assure the House, in the first place, that I labour under no misapprehension as to the scope of this Bill. It will not abolish gambling. It will not unduly restrict it. I recognise the tremendous hold which gambling has upon our national life, and I suggest that the time cannot be far distant when this House will be compelled by force of circumstances and the saving of the nation to deal in far-reaching manner, and probably drastically, with the whole subject of gambling. I am dealing this morning with an extraordinary, an amazing and a sinister development which has taken place and which has caused all thoughtful citizens much concern and not a little alarm. Had its developments been foreseen it would undoubtedly have been dealt with earlier. During the debates on the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934, which some of us remember with considerable interest, the Marquess of Londonderry, in defining in another place the purpose of Clause 3, said:In framing the Bill the Government thought it was desirable to take the opportunity of dealing comprehensively with all 2318 forms of betting on the totalisator or pari-mutuel principle both on and off the course. Betting on this principle, as the Royal Commission pointed out, both in their interim and final reports, offers enormous scope for fraudulent practices of a kind very difficult to detect. … As regards pari-mutuel betting off the course, there is no reason in the public interest why elaborate machinery should be set up to supervise and control betting on this principle, and in order to eliminate the possibilities of fraudulent practices and with a view to stopping any gaps in the law through new forms of the so-called "tote" clubs might reappear the Government proposed that all betting on a pari-mutuel principle other than betting by means of a totalisator subject to a system of supervision should be prohibited.When the Bill was altered in order to exclude what are known as football pools, he further said:The Government realise that this decision may leave a loophole for undesirable and, possibly, fraudulent practices, and if abuses on a large scale involving serious social consequences were to arise as a result of this concession the Government must reserve to themselves the right to propose such amendments of the law as experience may show to be necessary.Since the passing of that Act that loophole has, I submit, become more in the nature of a by-pass. In the same debate the Bishop of Winchester said:It is not for the good of the State that there should come into existence societies and companies which make private gain through encouraging the anti-social habits of excessive betting and gambling. If these societies and companies are allowed to flourish they may eventually become a real danger to the nation. They will possess in course of time considerable wealth and they may use it, as has been done in other countries, to manipulate the press, to bribe the police and to influence representatives in Parliament. I am not at all sure that signs of this are not already visible. … The State has not only the right but it has the duty to control and, if needs be, to stop those who are attempting to exploit gambling propensities for the sake of private gain.Having regard to the Amendments on the Order Paper this morning this further quotation is of considerable interest. The hon. Member for Balham and Tooting (Sir A. Butt) said on 15th November, 1934, that the Home Secretaryhas left out the most glaring social evil in connection with gambling. An hon. Member has said that it would be dangerous and politically bad for any Government to condemn football coupons, but no one has attempted to justify them, or to minimise them, as social evils which affect those who are least able to look after themselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1934; col. 709, Vol. 293.]2319 The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said:Here is an admission in regard to what is on the whole perhaps the worst form of gambling which is now current in the country which is not only confined to football pools, but apparently, as the Home Secretary indicates, is shortly going to spread to racing, cricket and other spheres." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1934; col. 1592, Vol. 293.]It was following statements like those that, for some unaccountable reason, the Government redrafted portions of that Bill so as to exclude pool betting, one of the deplorable mistakes made at that time. What has been the result? The extent of the development of pool betting will be seen when I remind the House that on 12th November, 1934, a figure, for which I was responsible, of £5,000,000 was given to this House. Some doubt was cast upon that figure, and in order to ensure greater accuracy in the next few days I revised the whole of the financial position, so far as opportunities were available, and a few days after I gave the House a revised figure of £9,000,000 as the total of transactions during the season. Pool announcements seemed to me such an interesting subject that I continued my investigations and on such data as were available the £9,000,000 had, in July last, risen to £20,000,000. That figure, which was published last July, has never been challenged, but it has been reaffirmed by most of the financial authorities in this country. One thing, however, did happen. Following the publication of that figure a change was made in pool announcements and it became more difficult to estimate that figure. I am not suggesting that this was a case of cause and effect, but simply saying that about that time a change was made. Therefore, one finds it a little difficult to follow later developments, but there was some data given which were full of indications that there was an enormous growth in the whole of this business. A pool, for example, which in August of last year was £8,000, became in January of this year £31,000. Another claims to have trebled its clientele during the present season. The number of letters passing through the post has become similarly inflated. At Liverpool, according to the Postmaster-General's figures, out of a total of 6,000,000 postal packets per week, 4,000,000 are said to 2320 be accounted for by some 28 firms operating football pool betting.
Everyone must have been shocked when so sober a paper as the "Economist" and so responsible an organ as the "Times" told us that cur annual account for all forms of betting comes to £500,000,000, or even allowing a liberal discount, half the amount raised in the Budget. It is not gambling in general that we wish to deal with, not the impulse which takes possession of a man when, on the course, he sees his favourite horse making headway and is so convinced of winning that he takes odds on the chance, but a far different thing, in which there is neither horse nor burdle, neither football nor goal post, nor odds; but instead, a fireside, a bit of paper, a list of names and a pen, in which the goal is not the sporting event, but a financial venture, of which the best description is "something for nothing."
Pari-mutuel betting received a great fillip with the passing of the 1928 Racecourse Betting Act, setting up the Betting Control Board and authorising the Totalisator. The sequence of that was Section 3 of the Act of 1934 which was admittedly incomplete and left such ambiguity as contributed to the rapid spread of off-the-course betting, betting on other sports than horse and dog racing and chiefly, or almost entirely, on football. No one foresaw the rapid development of football betting, so no one is clearly to blame for the position that has arisen. Nevertheless there were definite warnings. The football associations unanimously and continuously pleaded for such action as would prevent betting on the game. Whatever may be thought of the recent actions, those actions have simply been in continuity of the expressed opinion and desire of the football association and the League for many years past. That we should keep football and similar games free from gambling is the purpose of the Bill. It will probably be suggested that the League has the solution of the pools problem in its own hands and that the way for the League to abolish football pool betting is to cease to be a League. The mere existence of the League with its series of matches every Saturday is the very reason why the football pool operates. I submit, however, that this House has no right to throw that duty upon those who are responsible for the national 2321 game, and the recent action in that direction does not promote confidence in its success. The Bill does not stop all gambling. If there are those in the House who are solicitous that the poor man, the worker, or the idler should continue to have a flutter, and who think that the Bill will take away that flutter from him, I am sorry to say that I can make no such claim. A far greater measure than this would be necessary to that end. We may accomplish something, but much will still be left to be done.
It may be said that the solution is along the lines of control. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I conclude from those cheers that I have interpreted hon. Members' opinion in the right way. I have considered the point, and apart from the general question is whether it is right for this House to try to exercise control so as to make permanent that which many people believe to be radically wrong, there is the question: How could you control?
I want to consider the possibility of control. Let us get a clear view upon the position. In a very short space of time it is necessary to deal with a vast number of communications, say, 5,000,000 letters, each one containing a coupon with a number of names and each, for the most part, having a money value. The names must be checked and the money must be checked, and the lists must be compared quickly with the results and the findings despatched within a few hours. I know of no system which could give efficient check, nor do I know any refutable accountants who would undertake to do that work. From the "Accountant" of 1st September, 1934, I read that a question had been asked how an accountant should certify the transactions of a pool promoter. This was the reply:The only method by which an auditor can safely certify the odds paid in a particular football pool is for him to attend at the offices of his clients, to be present at the opening of the post and to personally list every entry received. The list should be definitely closed before the matches are played and 'marked off.' Even so, dummy entries may be made by the proprietors from accommodation addresses, particularly as the law at present does not permit cash to be enclosed with the entry.Such is the opinion of the accountants themselves. How can we talk about the possibility of control? Let us look at the matter from other standpoints, and 2322 the first is in respect of the pool agents. During a recent prosecution, reported in the press on 4th March this year, the stipendiary stated that a pool promoter had said—I have the name of the pool promoter here if hon. Members want it, but I do not want to give it—
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I have not that information on my notes. The stipendiary stated that the pool promoter had said that he had 10,000 collectors in various parts of the country, and so far as he—the stipendiary—could. see from the evidence, the collectors acted without any supervision. During a further prosecution, in which the same promoter was concerned—he is a member of the Pool Promoters' Association—it was admitted that he had appointed an agent at a commission of 8s. in the £. The total amount received by the whole of the agents and collectors who work on behalf of all these football pools it is impossible even to guess.
Then the question would have to be faced of checking and tabulating coupons. Many of these pool firms receive any thing from 500,000 to 1,000,000 coupons, so that presumably more than 5,000,000 individual coupons have to be dealt with weekly. On each coupon there may be one, six, a dozen or 20 individual lines of forecast. All these coupons must be checked as to their source, and as to the total amount staked on them and the amount staked on each line. When the results are available at 5.30 on Saturday, all the lines of forecast must be checked for correctness—and let it be remembered that, in the case of a penny pool of, say, £30,000, there are over 7,000,000 lines of forecast involved while when the pool is based, not merely on forecasts, but on the number of points scored in a line of forecasts—one for a home win, two for an away win, and three for a draw—the total number of points in each of millions of lines must be checked.
If one examines the dividends returned on various pools, it is interesting to see that they are calculated on the basis of the dividend for a 1s. stake, and in the case of by far the majority of pools they are stated as an even number of shillings. During the Debates in this House and in the Committee upstairs on the Bill of 1934, a good deal was heard, in connec- 2323 tion with totalisators on dog tracks, about "breakages" of 3d. and "breakages" of 6d., that is to say, the dividends were paid out to the nearest 3d. or 6d. below the mathematically accurate dividend, the totalisator proprietor keeping the change. We were given to understand that these "breakages," when the dividend was paid to the nearest 3d. or 6d., might amount to a very large sum which was left in the hands of the promoters. In the case of the football pool we have a dividend declared, not to the nearest 3d. or 6d., but to the nearest shilling. Obviously there must be leakages, and the suggestion is that they must amount to very much larger sums than in the case of the totalisator. I can find no reference, either in coupon rules or in accountants' certificates, as to the fate of these sums, and without detailed knowledge of the exact amount paid into a large number of representative pools and the exact number of winning clients it is not possible to calculate with any degree of reliability how much such leakages may amount to, but it is evident that the total must be considerable.
Moreover, the coupon rules state a variety of reasons for which coupons may be declared void, and in such cases the stakes are forfeited and the promoter benefits; while if a match is postponed or is not played as printed in the coupon, the dividends are reduced by one-third or one-half, and again the promoter benefits. The promoters' attitude to this question of control is revealed by the way in which they protect themselves at every point. In this game it is "heads I win, tails you lose." For instance, in one case it is laid down in the rules that:…The counterfoil of postal order to the amount of investments this week should be enclosed as a sign of good faith.Of course it is not legal to send the cash, but, if you have the counterfoil, you have a wonderful lien on the postal order which is going to follow; but, more than that, if the promoter has the counterfoil and then receives the postal order, the individual who has sent the postal order has no proof in the event of a dispute arising, since the counterfoil and the postal order are in the hands of the pool promoter. In another case, one of the rules states that 2324Coupons must be posted to arrive on or before the Saturday on which matches are played. No responsibility is taken for non-delivery or late delivery of coupons, neither is proof of posting accepted as proof of delivery. Coupons arriving after date of the matches will be void and no correspondence will be entered into regarding lath coupons.In another case it is stated thatCoupons must be posted on or before Friday and must reach our office by 4 p.m. Saturday, otherwise the commission will be cancelled, win or lose. On no consideration can we accept coupons received by us later than this time. No responsibility can be accepted for letters lost in transit, and proof of posting cannot be accepted as proof of delivery.It was stated by the Postmaster-General a week or two ago that there was 10 tons of such matter lying in a Liverpool Post Office on the Sunday, and it had to be taken away by the pool promoters themselves.
I have a very large number of such points but I do not want to elaborate them further. The evidence on this matter given on behalf of the Racecourse Betting Control Board before the Royal Commission, after describing totalisator methods, continued:Where purely clerical methods are used the possibilities of malversation are much greater, for the public is not in a position to check the actual coupons. Some of the possibilities of fraud are as follows:
At this point it is well to quote the considered opinion of the Commission of 1932, on the Lotteries and Betting:
- (a) The total pool could be wilfully reduced, the difference between the real pool and the declared pool being retained.
- (b) The number of units sold on the winning or placed horse could be arbitrarily increased so as to reduce the dividend payable below its proper figure.
- (c) The management could purchase after the result was known, a number of tickets on the winning or placed horse.
- (d) The percentage deduction would be increased above the declared percentage from time to time.
- (e) The dividends could be declared at an arbitrarily reduced figure, for example, in a case where an outsider won and the dividend was unusually high."Where, as in office pari-mutuel betting there is no occasion to reveal to backers the details of the pools before the race is run and calculations can be made at leisure, after the result is known, the opportunities for fraud are considerable.and they finish up by saying,For the reasons indicated we recommend that office totalisator or pari-mutuel betting should not be allowed.2325 In the case we are discussing to-day you have not even a totalisator, but purely clerical methods. Schemes are in being for control by an accountancy, the cost of which, if efficient, might well destroy the whole business. There are those who urge that the way to stop the pools is to control them in this way. Why should we at a time like this adopt that Machiavellian way of doing business? If we are to stop the pools let us do it outright. If you are going to control them by a system of accountancy you might very well destroy the pools. To control this thing by satisfactory accountancy would remove so many accountants from the ordinary service of productive industry as to become a very heavy tax on industry itself. If hon. Members would like to exercise themselves with problems of control I suggest the following: A penny pool is advertised at £8,000. That equals 1,920,000 lines at a penny. Check these at the rate of two per minute, working 24 hours a day. In one year you will do 1,048,000, leaving still almost half, or more than one-third, to be done. Yet the result of a pool of that description was broadcast from Luxembourg at 2.20 p.m. on Sunday, and the results of the matches were not known until five o'clock on Saturday, less than 24 hours before. One man last year advertised a penny pool at £21,000. £21,000 means 5,040,000 lines. Checking as before at the rate of two per minute, it would take him over four years to deal with it. Eighteen results equal 363,000,000 lines, and at the rate of two per minute night and day it would take 340 years to complete the check.
I turn from the facts of the case to the arguments for prohibiting this thing. The argument is often used that we have far too much interference from this House. In my wrath I have said something like that on more than one occasion. We in this House have one supreme duty, and that is to safeguard the nation. We have listened to an important statement to-day, and for weeks past we have been oppressed with a sense of responsibility in trying to safeguard the nation from outside interests. We have tried to build up such conditions as will make the nation safe in international affairs; but I submit that there is an internal danger as well as an external one. Deterioration of character may well undo the nation more quickly 2326 than external force, and of all the ways leading to deterioration of character gambling is the worst. No one likes the bestiality of drunkenness, but even drunkenness has none of the hopelessness of gambling. This week we have been celebrating the centenary of Pickwick. To Charles Dickens drunkenness was a place for humour. Let us be quite frank about it; to most of us there has been an element of humour about intemperance. But there is no humour about the tragedy of gambling. I have no need of the pen of Charles Dickens or the wizardry of the "Old Curiosity Shop" to describe what happens in a gamblers home. If the House realises that it will understand the concern, the anxiety, the alarm with which all of us who care for the young life of the nation watch the development of the pool spirit and activities. It is the most insidious form of education in gambling ever devised. The State has tried to safeguard the young in respect to gambling, and no one under the age of 18 can put money on the totalisator. Can anyone tell me how it is possible to check the age of the millions who put their money on these bets? I have many quotations that I could read. They are all fully documented. Here is one:A father gave his young son 3d. a week to pay for his entrance to see a football match each week. He began to wonder whether his son was attending the matches, and asked him. The boy admitted that he was not and said that most of the boys at his school had been putting their money on the pools and that he had given his money to another boy, who put his own to it, and that the latter gave it to his father to put in the pool.I have not been surprised to receive from every side, from Sunday schools, Christian endeavour societies, education authorities, after-care committees and so on, letters and appeals to pass on the fact that in their opinion this evil should be stopped. I have received thousands of resolutions to that effect from societies which deal with young people.
We shall be told about the liberty of the individual. But you have to decide between the liberty of the individual to bet and the liberty of the promoter to exploit the betting instinct of others for private gain. The argument from the angle of liberty makes a peculiar appeal to me. If I thought I was introducing some form of control which embodied a new principle not hitherto applied I would 2327 drop the Bill at once. But I am not doing so. What I have to ask the House to do is to choose between two evils, safeguarding the unwary or protecting the astute. I choose the former. If I have to choose between success built up by labour and merit or one captured by chance, again I choose the former. It is surely the business of the State to defend the innocent or the ignorant, and it is equally the duty of the State to restrain those who would exploit these things. The question of liberty does not enter the picture. If you pass the Bill, there will still be abundant opportunities to bet, but you will have reduced the capacity of the exploiter to bring pressure upon others. It has frequently been said that the fact of betting is accounted for by the wish to escape the drab monotony of life, but it is still true that the vast increase in betting has taken place at the very time when those things that are said to militate against the drab and monotonous have also increased. While you have the cinemas increasing, radio, and every kind of sport and entertainment, at that every time you have the greatest increase in betting. I shall be told that this is a moral argument and this House dislikes such. I dispute that. From my experience of this House it never reaches greater values than when it discusses a question of great moral issue and there is no question of greater moral importance than safeguarding the young developing character.
Perhaps the most interesting form of commendation for pool betting is that which gathers round the cry of interference with industry. To me it seems like. unblushing temerity to describe this traffic as industry. I have looked up the definition of industry and it runs,employment in some particular form of productive work.The mere spending of money on the provision of work is not industry. The pool promoter is no more carrying on an industry than the Minister of Labour would be if he got men to dig holes and fill them up again. This industry produces nothing. It adds no wealth to the nation, but uses wealth without reward. Money or credit is reserved energy which, when used, brings some reward. The £500,000,000 spent on gambling brings none. Credit or money is not destroyed. It changes hands, or pockets, generally 2328 out of the pockets of the poor into those who are not so poor, but it accomplishes nothing and is therefore wasted. This is thrown up in high relief when we consider what would happen if all the money so spent were put to other uses. If the Minister of Labour had one-half the amount spent annually on gambling to spend on productive enterprise, unemployment would cease. I hardly dare to suggest a Minister of Agriculture who had £100,000,000 to spend to fertilise the soil. I notice this week the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has been discussing on price of milk. What would happen to the price of milk if the £30,000,000 spent on pool betting were spent on liquid milk services? This House, on the one hand, giving millions in subsidies while outside the people scatter hundreds of millions without regard to industry or production present a picture of chaos. Our bad in industrial condition has many causes. Not least among them is our manner of life. This will not change that but it will point the way.
I turn to another point—the argument on sport. We are all sportsmen. We all have our sporting side.The spirit of endeavour,Burns in English hearts for ever,when Aintree calls. We look back with regret to the day when play was past us, and that regret was only tempered by our ability to make it possible for others to play. I saw somewhere the other day the suggestion that the way to stop betting was to put the boys on the playing fields with a ball. I largely agree and we are doing our share in that. Meanwhile, what are the pools doing? They are destroying as rapidly as they can our great national games, bringing into them a spirit that is bad and cutting away from them the healthy support that they need. We have abundant evidence of two things, the changing attitude of the crowd from the game to the coupon, and the sapping of the resources of the smaller clubs by the weekly bet. Instead of money for the gate or the game, it is put on the coupon. You cannot have both. We have developed our greatest games without gambling. Football and cricket did not depend upon the adventitious excitement of betting. What we owe to these great games cannot be over-estimated. Are we 2329 going to risk them by the exploitation of a few and the thoughtlessness of the many? It is not my business to come to the defence of the Football Association. They can do that for themselves. This part of the argument is ably summed up in the "Yorkshire Post."Sport and gambling are inherently incompatible and, when the two are brought together, one or the other must of necessity suffer. Commercialised as League football may be, it yet retains an essential element of sport, and it is towards the protection of this essential element that safeguarding steps must he taken.I want merely to say, having carefully examined the position of the Football League with regard to the many charges made against it, and having been permitted by the League to go into the question, that there is no change in the attitude of the League or of the Association on betting on the games. In consequence of the discussion which has taken place, the asset of copyright value has been discovered and all discussion has been round the question of that copyright. Even at the risk of heavy financial cost the League and Association have refused to compromise their position and attitude over betting on the game.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I am trying to deal seriously with the matter. I come to my last point. First of all, who asked for this Bill? [An HON. MEMBER: "Nobody."] I want to say to the hon. Member that I have never known such unanimity true to the religious life of this country than that which has been expressed over this Bill. The demand has come from every part of the country and from every class and kind of church organisation. The Rouse has heard the evidence, clear and unmistakable, that the sports section of the community desire the passing of the Bill. I have here evidence which, I understand, has been sent to every hon. Member on this point.
§ Sir FRANK SANDERSON
The hon. Member has said that all the religious people are whole-heartedly in favour of this Bill, and, seeing that there are 10,000,000 people who are opposed to the Bill, does he suggest that there are 10,000,000 irreligious people in the country?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I believe that there are more in support of the Bill on those grounds than there are people opposed to the Bill, and I suggest to the House that there is in the facts before us sufficient justification for giving a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ 12.40 p.m.
§ Mr. BARR
I beg to second the Motion.
I would like, in the first place, to refer to one or two objections that have been taken, or to obvious objections which may be taken, to the Bill. The commonest objection, and one that has a great deal or plausibility, and in some ways some grounds, is that it savours of class legislation. People say, what about the Stock Exchange, and what about betting on the racecourse? For my part, I can only say: "Do the duty which lies nearest to you, the next will become plainer." There is one argument often adduced that those who have the means to gamble may gamble, and they do not approve of people who have not the means of gambling or betting; and it is one with which I entirely disagree. I do not wish one law for the rich, and another law for the poor. It is provocative, and is evidence of class distinction and discrimination for one to say, "I have the means, I can do it, but I do not approve those who have not the means." This at once provokes the reply, "Why is it that you have the means which your brother does not have, and why is it that you claim to do what he is not to do?" When the Racecourse Betting Bill, which brought in the totalisator, was before the House I, with many of my colleagues, fought that Bill throughout, and the predictions and prophecies we made in regard to the totalisator, that it would be a growing inducement to betting on the racecourse, has been amply justified. In 1933—and these are the official returns—the amount spent on the totalisator was £4,411,000, and in 1934 it had risen to £5,135,000, and it is still rising. Therefore it is for no friendliness to the turf at all that I take this course. Lord Beaconsfield said:The turf is a vast engine of national demoralisation.2331 I still hold to that view, and I see arising here another vast engine of demoralisation. Therefore, I cannot help but take part to-day in anything that can be done, either to stay it altogether, or greatly to reduce it. The two go largely together. I am not sure if hon. Members know that when the football season is over the promoters of these football pools issue literature explaining the advantages of their betting facilities on the racecourse. So we are not distinguishing the one from the other. It is not for the poor to follow the rich in their vices to their own undoing; and I say further, that the football pool business was not designed for the entertain-men of the poor but to despoil them of their slender means. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion spoke about the reasons, and I am sure that we can all sympathise with them, that lead people to indulge in this or other forms of betting. There is bad housing, with which we sympathise to the full, and we are not surprised if people, in their despair, take to any mode that seems to give them any temporary relief. After all, that is an argument for better housing and the proper provision for their leisure and entertainment, in which the State is still to play a very large part. It is our duty to do all we can to relieve the monotony and distress of the poor, but our first duty is not to humour the poor in their poverty, but to lead them out of it. It has been often said, I think one of my hon. friends has said it., very properly, that the workers should have some surplus for entertainment. I think my hon. Friend said that they should have as much as 10s. a week for wastage, as he called it. I entirely agree with that, but I also agree that it is for us to do what we can to see that the surplus—many of them have no surplus—should be spent in pure, noble and innocuous ways, and that we should make ample provision for their entertainment.
The second argument against the Bill is that it is a very narrow attitude to oppose this form or other forms of gambling. If we look at the rivers we find that where they run the narrowest they often run the deepest. We are told that this Bill is a kill-joy Measure. I am in no sense a kill-joy, but I want to kill the serious things that this and 2332 other evil pastimes bring in their train. I do not want to exaggerate. I do not want to say that the percentage of those who are brought to ruin by gambling is large. It is no part of my duty or my intention to say that, hut I will give one or two instances. Here are the particulars of a separation order in the City of Glasgow. A man began betting in a small way and went on until he was spending £3 10s. a week on this form of gambling, and it led to a separation order and the break-up of the home. I want to kill that sort of thing if I can.
§ Mr. BARR
I will speak about the amounts later. I have already indicated that the more you go in for these flutters, as the next case will show, you are likely to have a combination of racecourse betting and football pool betting. In Banffshire a man was brought up—it is reported in the Press of the 1st March of this year—accused of stealing money, and the explanation given was that he had given way to betting on horse racing and football pools and had been spending as much as £5 a week. Here are the remarks of the Sheriff of Banffshire on the case:He imagined that the root of the trouble was the demoralising effect on the accused by indulging in an extremely silly form of amusement, betting on football pools. A great many people did it, and it was the cause of a great deal of crime in the country.A third objection to the Bill, which is given in the Amendment, for its rejection, is that—it is an unjustifiable interference with private liberty.I thought that in our politics we had abandoned the idea of laissez-faire, and had come to the point when liberty had to be wisely curtailed. At any rate, I say quite bluntly that I am in favour of interfering with the unrestricted liberty of the football pool promoters to exploit the poor. I am, as Thomas Carlyle said, againstthe liberty to die of starvation,and against the freedom claimed by those so nobly exposed by John Milton: 2333
Now a few words about the interests of football itself. There is a threat here to turn football from pure football into a great gambling institution. My hon. Friend who moved the Second reading gave some statistics showing that £30,000,000 were invested this year in football pools compared with £20,000,000 last year and that no less than £6,000,000 were retained by the promoters for their expenses and profits. I will give a few remarkable figures from the circular issued by the Football Association. Taking the 44 English League matches the total average weekly gate money amounted to £48,000, while the total put weekly into the football pools is £800,000, so that 161 times as much is put on betting on the game as is spent on watching the game. The income of the football pools in one week is as large as the income of League football in half a season. Some 5,500,000 people are said weekly to invest in these pools. The circular goes on to speak of the menace to football as a pure sport, and says:
- "That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
- And still revolt when truth would set them free;
- Licence they mean when they say liberty,
- For who loves that must first he wise and good."Football will be regarded as of more importance as a gambling opportunity than as a sport.The Football Association has enshrined in Rule 43 the following:An official of an Association or club, referee, linesman, or player, proved to have taken part in coupon football betting shall be permanently suspended from taking part in football or football management.The Scottish Football Association, which was founded in 1873, and which is the governing body of all football in Scotland, stated in evidence before the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting in 1932–33, that they had inserted in their rules the following:Any director, official, player or other person connected with football management, who participates directly or indirectly in betting upon the results of football matches, shall be expelled from the game.In reply to the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Robert Campbell, President of the Scottish Football Association, said:We want it entirely protected from any betting element at all. The two cannot live together.2334 All lovers of true and noble sport must rise to rescue it from all degrading associations. I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert) is in the House. We know him as a contributor of good humour in "Punch", but I do not think that the following couplet referring to the Association of betting and gambling with pure sport, is from his pen:Although it suits the baser sort,What's sport to them is death to sport.Let me come to the question of employment. Mr. F. E. Beaumont, writing in "Pearson's Weekly," 29th February last year, said:It is now virtually a new light industry, a highly organised business employing thousands of skilled workers and catering for millions of customers.The promoters of these pools claim that they give employment to 25,000 persons. It will be admitted that it is seasonal and intermittent work, and if you compare that number with the turnover it means the employment of 833 persons for every £1,000,000 spent on pools. But on the census of production of 1924 the Board of Trade say that, taking 80 of the greatest industries in this country, for every £1,000,000 of output 4,282 persons were employed—not 833. If this money were invested in other ways it would give far more employment than can possibly be given in this way. At any rate, it is not productive employment. Adam Smith said that productive employment was that which added to the value of the subject on which it was bestowed, and multiplied itself in repeated and fructifying values." That is not true of this employment. I sum up by two or three propositions of general objection to this form of gambling, which would also apply to other forms of betting and gambling. The first is that it flouts the principle that labour is the real title of property and possession, the ultimate source of the production of wealth—labour combined with the fertility of the soil and the bounty of Heaven. I am not surprised that in a time when people cannot get labour or possessions they should in their despair turn to forms like this, and if it made their conditions better, if it made them better able to think out their own emancipation instead of depriving them of a clear vision in these matters, one might reconsider their attitude. Here I take the liberty of quoting from the right hon. 2335 Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Speaking in this House on 1st December, 1919, dealing with the question of a national lottery under the title of "National Premium Bonds," the right hon. Gentleman said:Above all, at a time when the one lesson you have to teach everybody is that there is no salvation except in work, you teach them to expect salvation by luck! of teaching them to rely upon their efforts, you teach them to look to chance. If you do that, no amount of money you may get, whether it be much more than I anticipate or not, will compensate the country for the damage which will be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1919; col. 109, Vol. 122.]My second general proposition against the evil which the Bill seeks to remove is that it is the surrender of reason in the distribution of wealth, allocating it on a basis of chance, and not of equity or human need. My third general proposition is that it is the enemy of all intelligent and disinterested citizenship. My fourth proposition is that it is accentuated by bad social conditions; and it is significant, as the Royal Commission of 1932 pointed out, that it has increased at a time of economic and industrial depression. I am speaking only for myself—there is no more convinced Socialist on these Benches than I—and I say that we should stand for the socialisation of public utilities and the repression of public iniquities. I do not seek, nor does anyone who is supporting the Bill, to repress any pure joy, any worthy entertainment. Let us develop our national games for pure sport and full recreation; let us fill up the increasing leisure time which we trust the working classes of this country will have. Let us do what we can by our institutions and forms of amusements, which would be greatly multiplied under a better social order, to make virtue easy and vice difficult. Let us build up a democracy which will have a love of all pure sport and manly exercises; which will have a conscience void of offence; or as Rudyard Kipling has it:Teach us delight in simple things,And mirth that hath no bitter springs.I would add no bitter springs, and no bitter outgoings. Let us build up a democracy which will have moral standards not pitched too high, not "too good for human nature's daily food," but 2336 still high, exalted, noble, and ennobling; so that, as the greatest of my countrymen has said:A virtuous populous may rise the while,And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved isle.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I beg to move, to leave out from the word, "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, while sympathetic towards the principle of the regulation of football pool betting in the interest of subscribers, considers the proposals of this Bill to be an unjustifiable interference with private liberty, and further is of the opinion that there is no sufficient reason for proceeding with a Bill which provides for the amendment of the laws relating to betting within the space of two years alter the passing of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934.Let me say at once how much I echo the sentiment just expressed by the hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr) at the close of his moving speech. We all hope that an increase of prosperity in the future will bring renewed and greater opportunities to the masses of the people of this country for healthy recreation and increased profitable leisure, but we who hold the views expressed in the Amendment are perfectly confident that, however much the material and moral progress of the working classes may be improved in the coming years, the truth of the old adage will still remain, that betting is a principle inherent in our nature, and attempts to suppress it render it harmful and tend to drive it underground, and that the proper role of the State is to see that there is no undue exploitation of what is a natural and inevitable human instinct.
I think that this form of gambling is less harmful than many other forms of gambling, for one or two reasons which I propose at this starve to advance. In the first place, because of the very small amount of the stake involved—2s. on the average coupon and 1s. for the average investor; secondly, because it can take place only once a week and only 36 weeks in the year—a very different situation indeed from that of the people who bet on greyhounds or race-horses on or off the course; thirdly, because it demands from the people who compete a measure of skill which calls info play faculties of gauging the quality of different teams which renders this far less of a gamble 2337 than many other forms of pure gambling; and, lastly, this is less harmful than many other forms because the temptation to which the improvident and reckless gambler is subjected of trying to recoup himself on the racecourse for losses which he has made on the previous bet never arises in the case of football pools, as the contribution is sent in once a week and if he has lost he is unlikely to try the following week, by increasing his contribution by a few pence, to recoup himself for the shilling or so he lost the week before.
We hold the view that the average working man and other citizens can fairly be trusted to spend in the best possible manner what they have earned by their hard work and enterprise. I am surprised that people such as the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell), who are prepared to ask the most uninstructed person in the land to give a reasoned opinion on the Gold standard, the future Government of India, diarchy, and complicated measures of that kind, should still think these same people are not qualified to say how they will spend a shilling at the end of the week. It may come as a surprise to my hon. Friend that the 10,000,000 people who indulge in this form of harmless speculation are just as industrious citizens as he is, just as hard-working and painstaking, and pride themselves just as much as he does on a week's creative work properly achieved. I realise that I cannot convince my hon. Friend on that point; it is a fact I very much regret, and I shelter myself behind an observation made of another member of the house of Russell by the great Sydney Smith, that it takes a surgical operation to get a new idea into the head of a Russell.
I would like to say frankly at the beginning—for hon. Members may have noticed that once or twice I have asked information on the point from other people—that I have no financial interest whatever in football pools, I have never taken part in them and probably never shall take part in them; but I do frequently take part in gambling on the racecourse, and I am very reluctant to:Compound for sins I am inclined to,By damning those I have no mind to.Because I am not myself very knowledgeable about the working of these football 2338 pools, or was not until a few weeks ago, I approached with very great interest the booklet recently issued under the editorship, I believe, of the hon. Member for Eddisbury, entitled, "The Peril of the Pools", and I listened to his speech in the hope that I would find in it some of the damning arguments against this fearful vice which were so conspicuously absent in the pamphlet itself.
During the course of the last few years, I have received, as have other hon. Members, a great deal of literature about the great evils of the day—the drug traffic, the white slave traffic, the drink evil, the problem of the slums and so on—and in reading this literature I have often been impressed by the arguments adduced with compelling urgency of broken homes, ruined youth and miserable, wasted lives through the evils adumbrated in these pamphlets. But in reading "The Peril of the Pools" I found no argument whatever which would justify the House of Commons in preventing altogether by legislation an occupation in which so many million people indulge. Indeed, the only thing which remained in my memory after reading that pamphlet was a quotation, mentioned apparently with approval by my hon. Friends, that a month of selling race specials by a small boy in the streets of a town would ruin him morally for life. I am rather hoping that the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is here, because I understand that was one of his occupations in his earlier days, and I am content to leave it to him to prove how perfectly fantastic is that charge.
I can assure the hon. Member for Coatbridge that I do not intend to defend football pool betting because of the employment it gives or the receipts which the Post Office enjoys from it. Five thousand or 25,000 people may directly or indirectly get a living from football pool betting and the Post Office may secure £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 in postal orders, but we recognise fully that if this is a real moral evil against which Parliament must legislate, the measure of national gain will be far greater than the slight loss incurred in employment or in the receipts of the State. I do not intend to defend football pool betting on those grounds. I looked in vain in the booklet "The Peril of the Pools" to find a single valid argument on which 2339 I could base the substance of my speech. The main argument which dominates the whole of the pamphlet and the speeches of both my hon. Friends is the immense growth during the course of the last few years in football pool betting, but the mere fact that a sport is popular is of itself no argument for suppressing it. I venture to think that the amazing growth in chain stores, in Woolworths, or in many institutions which corrupt the public taste from our point of view, is no argument whatever in favour of suppressing them. Indeed, the growth in the number of the Labour party's supporters which the last election brought to this House could scarcely be used as an argument in favour of suppressing the Labour party. I have come to the conclusion that my hon. Friend is in the same position as those Puritans denounced by Macaulay, who protested against bear-baiting not because it hurt the bear, but because it gave pleasure to thousands of watchers.
Why is this sport so popular? First of all, because the average person in every village and in every town either watches football, plays it or knows a good deal about it. It is a sport which the mass of the people understand, and that being so, they see no harm whatever—and I entirely agree with them—in having a small weekly flutter on a sport which they fully comprehend. The right hon. Baronet the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland), in a speech made on the Second Reading of the principal Bill a year and a half ago, said, after he had gone into the Library and actually worked out the mathematical side, that the chances of an investor on the racecourse is one in 2,187, but in the case of one big football pool organisation—I believe the biggest in the country—with the working of which I have made myself acquainted in the course of the last few weeks, it is computed that one investor in nine on an average secures some dividend or other in the course of the season. Only a few weeks ago no fewer than 63,000 postal orders of the value of 2s. were paid out to people who successfully forecast the results of 14 matches in 15.
That is an argument which explains why football pool betting is so popular; it is because there is a reasonable chance of good fortune coming your way, and as long as there is that reasonable chance 2340 you will not, by law, prevent people taking it. I fully agree with the suggestion which was made, only to be brushed aside by the hon. Member for Coatbridge, that if this Bill becomes law it will be a form of class legislathri which this House ought not to approve. If betting is an evil, and if all the evils adumbrated by my hon. Friend are true, that is an argument in favour of prohibiting all betting, or prohibiting all pool betting through the totes on the greyhound course or on the racecourse; but it is certainly not an argument in favour of prohibiting a sport which is popular wish the mass of the working classes.
My hon. Friend quoted, as far as I could understand his quotation, information submitted to him which he claimed proves that this new pastime is corrupting the sport of football. I suppose all hon. Members in this House have read the report of the Committee on Betting and Lotteries, and they will remember that in that report it is stated clearly by the Football Association that it was not at the moment affecting the sport adversely.
The argument that there are limitless opportunities for squaring players and securing results more in conformity with the wishes of the backer than with the merits of the players is futile when we consider the large number of matches played every week and the impossibility of the average investor squaring successfully the right number of players in 14 or 15 matches. If it is suggested that it is to the advantage of the promoters of the pools to square players or referees I may point out that in this form of betting, in fact because their profit is assured, there is no incentive for promoters to procure a particular result. It does not matter to them whether the favourite wins or not because they have bound themselves only to take a certain percentage for profit and expenses and, whether the favourite wins or does not win, is a matter of comparative indifference to them. I say "comparative" indifference because of course if an unexpected result takes place and a large cheque is paid to a lucky subscriber that is very good from the advertising point of view. One is bound to concede that fact but it is hardly an argument in support of the theory that these promoters would deliberately "cook" the results.
2341 Thirdly, it has been suggested that attendance at matches has been falling off because of this new pastime. I have taken steps to find out whether that is true or not and I learn that some 688,000 more people attended football matches between August, 1935, and February of this year than attended football matches in the same period of the previous season. It is said that all responsible people in the football world are against this new form of betting. I am not going to weary the House with laborious quotations but I would like to draw attention to an observation made by a gentleman well known to many people here for his great position in the industrial world, Sir Francis Joseph, President of the Stoke City Football Club. He said:Football is the sport of the masses and pool betting indicates their interest in it. It has in no way diminished support of the games or the attendance at matches and it was due to the desire of the football enthusiast to back with a trifling stake his opinion on form and prospects and the working man should be left to enjoy his few remaining liberties.In this particular connection I come to the amazing and unsavoury story of the exact attitude of the football authorities towards this scheme. Everybody will remember how they have shifted their ground. First, they claimed that it was spoiling the game. When asked to give evidence of that fact at the Commission they were obliged to say that they could not do so. Then they took up the high moral line and said they were going to protect the mass of the people against a great evil. But when they saw the extent of the evil, they thought that they would come in and try to share the profits. I should like to quote briefly from some observations on this point contained in a leading article in the "Morning Post" of 2nd March, which I think sums up the attitude of mind on this question of the average person. The writer of this article said:Much of the sympathy that the Football League might have enlisted has been forfeited by the abscurity of its motives in launching this attack. Alternatively, it has lamented the losses alleged to have been suffered by the competition of the pools; has posed as a guardian of public morals and has coveted its share in third party spoils. If it had taken its stand on the first ground and produced confirmatory statistics it might have had some hope of support but after the ineptitude of the past 10 days, it has no course open to it but to beat an ignominious retreat.2342 That, in effect, is what the Football League has done. I am surprised at the quality and type of support which has come to the aid of the hon. Member for Eddisbury. No doubt he would approve of the pamphlet which has been sent round under the signature of Mr. Wilson Hartley a Liverpool accountant who, while giving support to some sort of control, suggests that it should not be Government control but control by the football authorities—"there is nothing to be said for any intervention by the Government." A big new corporation is to be set up called the Football Copyright Control Board, the duty of which, in the jargon of one of its backers is to "collar the dough" for the football authorities.
My hon. Friend gave the impression that this new sport is wholly unregulated. I wish to make my position plain. I do not believe that anybody, looking at the huge volume of money involved, can deny that the House of Commons must concern itself with the manner in which this money is collected and distributed. We are in favour—and I have no doubt that all the reputable people who are connected with this legitimate business share our view—of such regulation as will ensure that the public, who will bet in any case, shall not be exploited if they bet in this particular way. It is absolute nonsense, however, to suggest that there is no regulation at all. The pool promoters, or many of them, have themselves formed a Football Pool Promoters' Association and they claim that 90 per cent. of the volume of football pool betting is conducted by members of that association. That was denied previously but it has not been denied, so far, in this Debate and if it is denied I am prepared to prove, to my own satisfaction at any rate, that in fact that claim is well founded. They have certain rules to which their members are obliged under threat of expulsion to adhere.
These rules are known. They can be published in the sporting Press, and if they are contravened, the sporting Press is a sure watchdog to make certain that the average investor is not cheated. No children are allowed to figure among the clients. I recognise that it is impossible to ensure that that rule is carried out, just as it is impossible to prevent children at school betting on horse racing and engaging in other forms of betting which 2343 this House has made legal. I can only quote the experience of the organisation to which I refer. I believe that the men, mostly ex-detectives of the Liverpool police force, whose duty it is to go round and investigate certain situations in connection with the paying out of big cheques, never come across instances of bets being sent in by people who are under legal age, though I recognise that there may be exceptions. It is possible that further regulation might secure the end which, I am sure, is desired by the House. I hold that betting by minors is comparatively undesirable.
Another regulation which they nave made is that no free gifts shall be offered by the pool promoters and no circulars sent out save on direct introduction or by application, and that there shall be no door-to-door canvass. On the question of the thousands of agents mentioned by my hon. Friend I would draw attention to the fact that the Football Pool Association have now quite rightly and no doubt in response to public opinion, prohibited all agents save in the case of two Edinburgh firms whose business was built up in that way and who have given an undertaking not to increase the number of their agents. Then they have stopped advertising in the cinemas and on the radio and if anybody hears radio advertisements relating to this new sport from a foreign station they will know that that advertisement programme is being conducted on the part of firms outside the Association. I do not think however that such programmes will be conducted, because the financial position of those firms will probably not allow them to pay the heavy charges which Radio Normandy or other stations ask. Lastly, and most important of all they have made certain regulations in regard to commission, expenses and accountancy. All the members of the Association have agreed to limit their commission to 5 per cent. They are all under independent auditors and accountants whose good name is at stake, who conduct in Liverpool, Edinburgh and elsewhere large private businesses and who would not dare, even if they had the mind, to bring themselves into disrepute by shady and dishonourable practices. Those accountants only take such expenses as they think proper to be deducted and give a certificate to that effect. Regarding this as an 2344 ordinary industrial undertaking they have only deducted the expenses proper to be deducted. All the members of the association have auditors to ascertain and check the total fool and to see that only the proper expenses are deducted and that the proper dividends are paid. In the case of a firm into the working of which I have gone with extreme care, up to this moment in this season 80 per cent. of all their takings, 16s. in the £ have been paid out to the winners and an auditors certificate to that effect has been put on their coupons.
What about further regulation in the future? My hon. Friend suggested that perhaps one might reasonably say the Government should not touch this unholy thing, should not recognise it by insisting on regulations, but I suggest to the general good sense of the House that that is an argument contrary to all experience when we have been dealing with gambling affairs in the past. It has come to stay, and no amount of pious speeches will stop it. Let us recognise that it is here and take active steps to see that it is properly controlled. What further control would be desirable? I do not think that having the accountants appointed by the Government would he a great improvement Quite possibly the Government might appoint the same accountants, because, they are in the cities where the business is conducted, and they are reputable accountants whose good name is at stake. Something might be done possibly to limit the commission and expenses to a fixed figure, but if this House is desirous in future of limiting commission to five per cent. or perhaps less of the total takings, I would ask them to remember, in fairness to the promoters, that the average stake per coupon is 2s. and that there are millions of coupons involved, and naturally the overhead costs are very high. In regard to the actual expenses, the House should also remember the smallness of the stake, the credit nature of the business, and the fact that, unlike the totalisator, it can only be conducted on 36 days in the year.
The Government made their position in the past perfectly plain, that they agreed with the Royal Commission that the circumstances do not justify singling out football combination betting for complete suppression. We had many weary days and nights on the Betting Bill a few months ago, and many of us hoped that 2345 anyhow in our Parliamentary lifetime the gambling question had been finally settled. It was a real day out and night out for the cranks of this House, and I beg them to be content with the triumph which they enjoyed then in securing the passage of that Bill. Let us call the 3rd April this year our Thanksgiving Day for release from the Puritans, and as I am about to hand over this case to my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge (Mr. Dunne), may I recall his namesake Peter Dunne, the American who, when asked for what Thanksgiving Day was first instituted, replied:It was begun by the Puritans to give thanks for their deliverance from the Indians, and we now keep it to give thanks that we are delivered from the Puritans.
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Mr. P. DUNNE
I beg to second the Amendment.
In doing so, I ask the indulgence of the House, and I promise that I will be very brief. I feel very strongly opposed to this Bill, for several reasons. Firstly, because it is for the total abolishment of football pool betting and does not in any way regulate this form of gambling. If there was any suggestion in the Bill as to how to supervise football pool betting, I think it would deserve more consideration, but there is not a word in the Bill about how to supervise this growing business, which employs 25,000 people. All that is in the Bill is that the whole thing should be wiped out completely and that these people should be thrown out of work, and that incidentally the Post Office takings should be reduced by several millions. No one wants the public to be defrauded by football pool promoters, but I do not know why so many people should regard football pool promoters and bookmakers as necessarily dishonest men. I, personally, have found a great many very honest bookmakers, and, like all honest men, they have nothing to hide. I feel sure that they would welcome any form of supervision which the Government felt should be imposed on them.
There is another reason why one is opposed to the Bill, and that is because it seems to me to be attacking, as the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) said, the most harmless of all forms of gambling. I go horse-racing quite a lot, and I would like to compare 2346 football pool betting with gambling on race-horses. Hon. Members will know that there is a great temptation, if you back a horse in the first race and it loses, to have another bet so as to try to get your money back on the second race, and so on with the third race; and on most cards there are six races. Hon. Members will, therefore, appreciate that even if you originally stake only 2s., it very soon becomes extremely expensive. Again, horse-racing is on almost every day of the week, whereas in football pool betting you can only bet once a week. Those football supporters who like to have a flutter on the results of football matches do not really have this temptation. They can only enjoy their vice, as some people call it, once a week, and they cannot lose very much because almost all football pool promoters have a definite limit.
There is one other advantage which this form of gambling has compared with horse-race betting. It is alleged that interested people might try and bribe the teams and so affect the results of matches and defraud the public. As the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford has pointed out, that is quite absurd. There is very much more temptation for a bookmaker who stands to win or lose a very large sum of money on the result of a race than there is for a football promoter who in no way stands to win or lose according to the result. As a matter of fact, it is well-known throughout the world that horse-racing is conducted in this country with extreme cleanness and straightness, but it is obviously a greater temptation, and more practicable, to bribe one jockey than to bribe a great many football players.
There is a third reason why I feel strongly opposed to this Bill. It has been introduced because a number of people think betting altogether wrong, and they view with horror the growing popularity of this form of gambling. I am convinced that this popularity is not due to the sensational advertisements that one sees in the Press of some lucky man or woman who has won hundreds of pounds and all that he or she has spent has been a penny. I believe, really and truly, that it is popular because almost every man in this country has at some time or other played football himself and takes a very strong personal interest in the game. People like to follow the fortunes of the 2347 various clubs, and they like to back their opinions with a very small stake on the results of the matches. It is a much more personal sense than with betting on horses or greyhounds, where large numbers bet who have never been to a racecourse, but almost all who take part in football pools attend football matches once a week. In horse and dog racing, the horses and greyhounds mean nothing to them at all, any more than do dice. It is a means of betting, and that is all, but I think people take a big personal interest in the game of football, and that is why I think football pool betting is so very much more popular than the other forms of gambling.
I am sure the House will not be so misguided as to think that betting could or should be done away with altogether. Therefore, why should this form of gambling, which, to my mind, is the most harmless form of all, be treated separately and abolished altogether? It is a form of gambling which brings a little happiness and excitement to a great many people, many of whom lead very dull and monotonous lives, and I, therefore, hope the Amendment will be carried and the Bill rejected.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I want to make two clear statements at the beginning of my speech so that no hon. Member will be in doubt or embarrassed by anything I may say. The first is that I speak exclusively for myself, and that no member of my party or any other party will be pledged as a result of anything I may say. The second is that I shall support this Measure not as an anti-gambler or a spoil-sport, but for exactly the same reason that I supported the Measure of 1934. Greyhound racing had then reached a pitch when the majority of members in the House at that time satisfied themselves that Parliament could do no less than act as quickly as possible to suppress the growing evil. I recognise that this is perhaps the least easy subject for any hon. Member to deal with, particularly, as the Mover of the Amendment said, when millions of people are now enjoying their winter nights in trying to win the 3,400,000-to-one chance of getting one of the hefty prizes that are held before them by pool proprietors. I know that it requires a lot of courage 2348 and strong principles to support a Measure of this description. It is no exaggeration for me to say that I have had more letters from my constituents threatening never to vote for me again if I voted for this Bill than I have ever had with regard to any Bill during the last 13½ years.
May I pause a moment at this point, for I am informed I have omitted to perform the normal traditional duty of a member who follows a maiden speech? I apologise to the hon. Member for Stalybridge (Mr. P. Dunne) who has just spoken. I listened very attentively to what he had to say, and I am sure that every hon. Member did likewise. He intervened in our debates for the first time with a very clear statement of the case, and I congratulate him on his maiden effort. He spoke as one who is firmly established and at home here, and I hope that it will not be the last time he will intervene in our debates. I congratulate him on behalf of the whole House.
The Mover of the Amendment, who appeared to be a wonderful devil's advocate for the footfall pool proprietors, has quickly disappeared from the House. I regret it because I have one or two things to say to him with regard not only to his speech to-day, but to his speeches during the proceedings on the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934. At that time he was also one of the devil's advocates. I want to recall to those hon. Members who were not members of the House at that time the position with which we were confronted in 1934. At that time greyhound racing companies who owned the tracks the dogs and the machines who could take as big a rake off from the totalisator as they desired, were making profits that made even the late Home Secretary tremble. It was brought to the notice of the House that in one case a firm which started with.£14 000 was returning £212,000 in dividends per annum. A person who invested £100 walked away with £6,000 profit per annum because the totalisator was unregulated. That was regarded by the House in 1934 as unmitigated robbery. Worse still—and this is the point I would emphasise—because the greyhound racecourse proprietors could take just as much as they liked as they were doing everything they could by advertisement and other means to attract 2349 the maximum number of people to their tracks. Lest it might embarrass mothers, they actually erected nurseries beside the greyhound tracks and provided sandpits, swings and slippery slopes for the children. The mothers could therefore take their children at 8 p.m. and leave them in the nursery while they went to the track and put their money on the tote.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said that this was a joy day for the cranks. Whatever scheme can be produced for the purpose of exploiting the uninitiated, the unwary or less astute, the hon. Gentleman would support to the maximum extent on the ground of individual liberty. The Government, at all events, in 1934 dealt with greyhound racing totalisators. They intended to deal with a further growing evil to which attention was drawn by the Royal Commission on Betting and Gambling, but they were confronted by the interests behind the scenes. They withdrew Clause 3 of the Measure and allowed football pools to continue. In all parts of the House demands were frequently made to ascertain why the Government had changed their minds with regard to this question. We never obtained a reply. The Home Secretary did, however, say on one occasion that he undertook that his mind would not be closed on the matter, and that he reserved to himself the right to take what steps he deemed to be necessary. Since then there seems to have been a reason for the surrender of the Government. I notice that the senior partner in the biggest football pool company was a Conservative candidate in the recent by-election at Clay Cross. With money drawn from the pockets of the poor amounting to fabulous sums in the hands of that particular person in the Littlewood scheme, he became Conservative candidate and a supporter of the Government. That was the reason the Government withdrew the Clause. I notice that the same promoter of football pools and saviour of the downtrodden was candidate for Nuneaton in the last Parliamentary election, and for the second time he was defeated, showing that the people did not want John Moores of Littlewood's pools as a representative in the House of Commons. Apparently, so much of the reason has leaked out why the Government surrendered in 1934.
2350 Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present—
Now that the appropriate number of Members are in their places, I want to refer to the potential decision the Government will take this afternoon. I see that the 1922 Conservative Club held a meeting in this House a few days ago and gave the Government instructions to oppose this Bill. The Plymouth Conservative Association and Clubs have held a meeting, and apparently have given their instructions to the Government, so that although the hon. Lady who represents the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is a supporter of this Bill, Plymouth Conservatives are opposing the Measure, and I shall be interested to know what the Government representatives have to say. We prophesied in 1934 the rapid development of football pools. There was easy money there, millions to be made out of the millions of "mugs" who really think they are having a chance. An increased clientele means increased profits, and therefore intensive advertising by aeroplanes, newspapers and radio has been engaged in for the purpose of getting the largest number of clients.
Advertisement have been sent nationwide into million of homes showing people how, for the investment of a penny they can obtain £16,982, showing cheques for £5,000, cheques for £12,000 and cheques for all sort of sums which can be had for the mere asking. What the pool proprietors do not tell their clients is that it is they, the clients, who are having to pay for all this publicity. To-day we have not only the original shilling pool, but sixpenny pools, twopenny pools, penny pools and even the halfpenny pool. I wonder whether hon. Members really realise to what depths these pool proprietors have descended in order to obtain the maximum number of supporters for their money-making schemes. Here is one advertised in a newspaper as being promoted for the small investor: "Gulliver's Giant Halfpenny Pool. £100 for a halfpenny." It adds that agents are wanted all over the country. The mover of the Amendment said the pool proprietors were restricting their agents, but we see that Gulliver's—not Gulliver's Travels—Gulliver's Giant Pool is asking for agents everywhere.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
No, this is from a true capitalist newspaper. It is a. true Tory paper, the "Empire News."
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
If the hon. Member can bring to the House either the "Daily Herald" or a "Herald Daily," or any other daily or weekly or monthly showing halfpenny pools advertised it will not make them either better or worse. The point I want to emphasise is that in 1934 the foulest financial robbery was taking place in connection with greyhound tracks, and the Government stepped in. Now, in 1936, easy money is being obtained out of football pools, subject to no control, the promoters just doing as they like and making colossal sums in profits out of the uninitiated. The halfpenny pool is calculated to get in the minors, school children, and it can be shown that all over the country school children, instead of buying "humbugs," are joining the halfpenny pool, for which facilities are provided. I know that children do not matter to many hon. Members opposite, who think in terms of individual liberty. They would desire to employ children at six years of age, and have always fought in this House for the right to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Whatever hon. Members may say, those who sat on these benches before I was born had to fight a similar set of people to those now sitting opposite me in order to get rid of half-time employment.
§ The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir Walter Womersley)
The Tories did it.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
No matter who happened to do it ultimately, generations of fighting had taken place before the restrictions on child labour which are now the rule were made possible. These advertisements of halfpenny pools are a clear indication that pool promoters will take clients from the richest or the poorest, that there is no limit to what they will do so long as they are permitted to make profits such as they now obtain. It has been suggested that there are between 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 clients of these 2352 pools, and I do not doubt the figures. I do not doubt the fascination of the idea that an individual can get £100 for a halfpenny, or £16,500 for a penny. It is a fascinating idea to him to set out to win such a sum, and I am not at all surprised that there are 5,000,000 or 10,000,000 clients.
But what is the basic idea of these pools? Did the promoters of pools organise them for the purpose of providing millions of people with winter night entertainments? Did they organise pools so that they might help millions of people to spend their leisure to better advantage than hitherto? No, they organised them for the profit to be made out of them, and we understand that it is no exaggeration to say that between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 in profits is being made by pool proprietors, and I do not, doubt that those figures are correct. While making that profit they are not rendering an atom of service to the State. They are actually getting more. profits out of organising football pools than the whole of the coal owners in Great Britain are making in profits. The Coal Owners' Association of Great Britain employs 750,000 miners producing a basic raw material, and they are actually receiving less in profits than the pool proprietors who, we are told, employ 25,000 people. Hon. Members sitting on these Benches have frequently demanded that mining royalties should be abolished. Mining royalties—somebody getting 6d. per ton for nothing—are the bane of the miner's life. We were informed this week that the total sum paid in rents, royalties and wayleaves last year was £4,900,000. Why, the pool proprietors take nearly that annually, and they are rendering no service to the State at all.
It is almost beyond comprehension that any Government with any respect for themselves or for their people could allow this to go on for a moment. If £100,000,000 were investsd in War Bonds the income would be £3,500,000, probably less than the profits made by the pool promoters, who do not invest a penny. The Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment talked about the money the pool promoters spend in order to carry on their business, but the pool promoters have not spent 2¾d.; all their expenditure has been taken out of the pennies, twopences and sixpences of those who invest in the pools, and all the advertising is 2353 taken out of the revenue sent in by the investors. We talk about abolishing Capitalism or the capitalists, and about industrial magnates who have no sympathy or care for their workpeople; here is a case in which the promoters have only one interest in life, and that is in getting as much interest out of these 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 people as they possibly can.
Something has been said about 5 per cent. profit. There is 3½ per cent. interest on Government bonds. The Mover of the Amendment wants 5 per cent. There are more important things, in his mind, than Government bonds or Government stock. I gave figures in 1934 showing that the pool promoters did not take 5 per cent. but that for expenses and profits they took 60 per cent., and that figure has never been challenged. I gave a case—and the figures were given in court—where the income of a pool promoter was £10,000, and up to £6,400 was for advertising, office expenses, wages and profits and the £3,600 went hack to their clients. There was another case in Edinburgh where a promoter was prosecuted. His income was £920, from which £710 was deducted for expenses and profits, and £210 was given back to the poor people who sent in their pennies, twopences and sixpences. It is estimated that the biggest firm in Liverpool is taking anything between £7,000 and £15,000 per week profit. I do not know; I have no access to their figures, and I do not want to make an assumption according to the postal information. There are 968 players playing 44 important matches in the country, in the first, second and two third divisions, so that one firm of pool promoters takes more profit for one week than the 968 football players get in wages. It may be argued that that is fair. A football player enters into a contract with Newcastle United, Woolwich Arsenal or Blackburn Rovers to play football, but the football pool promoters take their profits out of the game, which has always been run as a pure sport and has never depended upon gambling in any form. It seems outrageous that the company which runs football should have their dividends reduced to a maximum of 7½ per cent. while some outside interest steps in, battens upon football and takes millions of pounds, as against the few pounds received by those who run the sport.
2354 We have heard the old argument that this is class legislation, and that we are robbing the poor of their opportunities of a little speculation. It is the same old story. They are the same old set of people who are always demanding more individual liberty; the same people who, down the ages, have demanded liberty to exploit the population at their will. When I look at some of the names down to this Amendment I imagine the lion. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams) as the saviour of the poor; the hon. Member who moved the Amendment as a giant of democratic government and freedom; the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer), who should have moved the rejection of the Bill, but, apparently, on second thoughts, decided not to do so, the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Wise) and the hon. Member for—I am not sure which constituency he represents, although I know where he lives and I know what club he supports —[interruptioan]—I am reminded that he is the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes); they are the saviours of the privileges of the poor. I have been watching them for 14 years. The individual liberty which those hon. Members to whom I have referred want is this: They want anybody or everybody to have individual liberty to mix sand with the sugar, water with the milk and margarine with the butter. They want individual liberty for anybody to do anything they like if they can make a profit by so doing. They do not carry me very far. I made up my mind long since that as long as a thing is regarded for the moment as being legal, there are certain supporters of this Amendment who would rob a dead man's grave, and for them to resent interference with this particular thing simply makes no appeal to me.
The other argument is that if you want to abolish gambling, why not abolish all gambling? It is a mere side-step, but I would be willing if hon. Members would bring forward a Motion to examine that question.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member may do many things that I, as a simple Member of this House am unable to do. [interruption.] Whoever put that question does not know much about Parliament or Parliamentary procedure.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
We know that that nonsenical observation simply means nothing. All hon. Members who enter for the Ballot cannot introduce a Measure.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
If the hon. Gentleman on the front Bench, who is a parliamentary representative of the Post Office and who will readily break Post Office laws to help football pool promoters when it suits their purpose, would refrain from interjecting and would show more courtesy, as Ministers ought to show, perhaps we shall be able to proceed with the Debate. He is the last person, after what he and his right hon. Friend did at Liverpool, to come here and interject in a Debate of this description.
We are facing a situation to-day comparable with that of 1934. It is because the Government lacked courage in 1934 that we are confronted with this problem to-day. They gave way to the interests behind the doors and now we are having to pay the price. I derive no joy or pleasure from standing here and preventing some of the best constituents there are in the country from having what they regard as a pleasant pastime and a pleasant investment in football pools. —[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—I do not deny that at all. For six successive Parliamentary elections Don Valley electors have been good enough to send me here, for my fortune or misfortune, and I do not readily do anything that I know is going to be hostile to their general feeling; but I know that what I am saying to-day will not be received with pleasure by thousands of them who have already said that they would not vote for me or anybody else who voted for this Bill to-day. But I am supporting the Bill in spite of that, because, once hon. Members descend to a level where they are no longer willing to face up to a principle because they are browbeaten by constituents who have been urged into activity by football pool proprietors, Parliament will have descended to a level comparable with many Continental Parliaments, and ultimately 2356 it will not redound to the credit of this country.
I have been in one or two countries where they run lotteries for national purposes, and I know of no such country that is comparable with our own, financially, socially cc morally. If we are to descend to their level because constituents feel that they are getting a square deal when Parliament knows that they are getting nothing of the kind, the time will not be far distant when we shall all regret the action that may or may not be taken to-day. I lament having to make a speech contrary to the wishes of my own constituents, and I only do so because I regard this as a huge swindle, as a great campaign organising a piece of business for private gain. There is no gamble in it; the promoter puts up no money, but uses his clients' money for his own puff-poses, distributing as much or as little of it as he likes and keeping as much as he likes. It is because I know that nobody can justify-such a. state of affairs that I am convinced that sooner or later, unless this or some other Government tackles the pools, we shall all be drowned in pools, to the detriment of this country.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, and who is not now in his place, tried to quote the "Morning Post" as making an attack on the Football League, but he must have known when he made that quotation that it had no relation to the facts regarding the Football Association. The Football Association have told all Members of this. House, if they care to read the documents they have sent out, that they hold themselves responsible for all football, and that under Rule 43 they cannot permit the Football League or these clubs to receive in this connection, directly or indirectly, a, sum of money for the use of these fixtures. Therefore, the Football Association calls it gambling, and its officials themselves prevent the League from taking advantage of money drawn from that source. For that reason, and that reason alone, I suggest that, in the interests of the people themselves, and certainly in the interests of clean Government, the Home Office ought to accept this Bill to-day.
§ 2.12 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I take part in this debate with great interest 2357 for two reasons. In the first place, I approach the question with a completely open mind, for I think that gambling is one if not the only temptation which I find no difficulty whatever in resisting. In the second place, my opponent at the General Election was a gentleman who either was or had been connected with the football pool interest, and I had experience in that election of the formidable pressure which the wealth and means of publicity accessible to football promoters can bring to bear. The publicity was very much on the lines of their advertisements of a £1,300 prize won for a penny, or a £300 prize for a halfpenny. However that may be, certainly by the end of the election responsible people of all parties were agreed that the football pool element in political elections was a very undesirable element indeed, and have come to the conclusion that people who fish in these pools fish in very troubled, if not rather muddy, water.
Naturally, I have been inundated with facts and letters on the subject of pools, and I have endeavoured to study the question as carefully as possible. I have also studied the debates on the subject. In the long run the position I have come to is the position in which I find was taken up by a very old and dear friend—unfortunately not in the House at the moment—Mr. Isaac Foot, who used to represent Bodmin. I find from the part that he took in the debate in November, 1934, that he felt that the way to proceed in this matter was by control of the football pools. He evidently felt that public opinion and the House not to say the Government, were not prepared to pass legislation on the subject. But I feel that there is a strong, and, indeed irresistible case for control, and in that connection I want to point out that in 1934 the Clause dealing with these pools was withdrawn without any explanation whatsoever from the Home Secretary or from the Government of the reasons which led to its withdrawal. That, to my mind, points to the fact that the pressure which the football pools can exert was formidable even in 1934, and I believe that now, in 1936, it is more formidable still. On that account I reiterate that there is an irresistible argument for control.
2358 It is true that the Royal Commission was divided on this question, but they did place it on record that they were very much afraid indeed of the possibilities of fraud in connection with these pools, and fraud of a nature which could go on for a long time undetected. There is control over betting on dog and horse-racing, but there is no control here. What security have those who take part in these pools that the proceeds of them are fairly distributed? There is no security of any sort, although the opportunities for fraud are so large. Are we really prepared to allow a state of affairs to continue in which there is such a formidable betting interest, running to some £30,000,000 a year, although there is no control of any sort whatsoever? It is quite fairly said, and I rather hold the view myself, that people may be entitled to go in for pools and to suffer if they lose; but they ought to get a fair run for their money, they ought to know what they are in for, and they ought to know that the pool is fairly carried on. I have no doubt that many pool promoters do carry on their business quite fairly and honestly according to their lights, but, as things are at the present moment, the door is left open to the unscupulous type of pool promoter, because it is not only possible for such men to distribute so small a proportion of the money received as to be unfair, but they can also lay down rules and conditions in connection: with their pools which make it difficult for anyone to win. If the Government have taken up the position of restricting the rake-off of the greyhound track totalisators, I cannot see why they should not equally restrict the rake-off of pool promoters. A great deal has been said by the pool promoting interests, and I imagine that the same thing has been reiterated to us all in the innumerable postcards and letters we have been receiving lately about not restricting or stopping the working man's pleasures. I am like most Members on this side anyhow; I have no wish whatever to stop any legitimate pleasure of a working man or woman. But I never knew such humbug as the stuff that has been written to Members of this House imploring us not to restrict the working man's pleasures. It is complete humbug because no or very little interest is taken in their pleasures until those pleasures re- 2359 present enormous profits. As soon as that is the case a great deal of interest is taken in their pleasures.
You have the working men and women of the country contributing at one time £20,000,000 a year to these pools, and of that £20,000,000 no less than £4,000,000 was deducted by the promoters in expenses and £2,000,000 for profits. Those are very nice sums to have to play with. The result is that we get all this agitation put up on behalf of the working man and his pleasure. In the election at Nuneaton to which I have referred I was fighting the case for a 2s. a day increase in the pay of the very large mining population there. I understand that the average bet in these football pools represents 1s. a week. There is all this agitation on behalf of these people and the working man's pleasure, about something which costs is. a week, and yet the same people gave no assistance whatever in trying to get for the miners the 2s. a day which would have given them a very considerably greater amount of pleasure than they are ever likely to get as a result of a 1s. a week contribution to the pools.
It is the failure to pay proper wages and to provide adequate employment which deprives working men and women of their pleasures. I want them to have pleasures, and pleasures of a far more substantial character than they are likely to get out of the pools, but so long as they find any pleasure in investing in these pools I want them to get certain things. I want them to get an absolutely straight deal from the pool promoters. I do not want them to be exploited by the promoters. I want them to know the odds at which they are gambling. They should know how much of the pool is distributed and how much is retained. In addition to that, they ought to be defended by a chartered accountant's certificate which reveals to them the facts of the situation.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I must remind the hon. and gallant Member that he seems to be discussing something quite different from the Bill. The Bill is not one for regulating football pools. Up to the present the hon. and gallant Member has said nothing whatever about the Bill that is before the House.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
Of course I bow to your ruling, but an Amendment has been moved and discussed, and the Mover of that Amendment to whose speech I listened carefully, dealt fully and specifically with the question of control, with which I am trying to deal.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not rule out references to it, and that is the reason why I have not interrupted the hon. and gallant Member during the 10 minutes of his speech so far, but it is one of those matters which has to be dealt with rather by reference than as the main subject-matter. The hon. and gallant Member's speech so far is unrelated to the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
Is it in order to deal with the question of the accountant's certificate, which was referred to by the Mover of the Second Reading?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member had better try to say what he wants to say and see what the result is. In doing that he must bear in mind what I have already said.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I will pass on to some comments on the question of the accountant's certificate, which was introduced into ills debate by the Mover of the Amendment. There can be no doubt in the minds of anyone who has listened to what was said on this subject that these accountants' certificates at present are entirely and absolutely useless. The accountant is completely unable to check ever coupon or to check the accuracy of the results. He is only able to supply the figures which are given to him. Let me illustrate the absurdity of the position. Here you have a business which is handling funds on the scale of £30,000,000 a year. The results of the matches come to hand late on Saturday afternoon, and yet the dividends are announced on the following Sunday afternoon.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
Will the hon. and gallant Member answer this question? Has he actually visited one of the big establishments engaged in this business, has he seen the work that the accountants do, has he examined the machines and spoken to the reputable accountants who give their word that they are satisfied as to the facts they put before the public?
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I have not visited one of those establishments. I am not a client or investor. I am basing my remarks regarding the accountants' certificates on statements made by representatives of the accountants themselves, who have published a statement that the certificates given under the present conditions, on the facts available to the accountants, are perfectly valueless. Can the hon. Member tell me what real information the existing accountants' certificates do in fact convey to the client?
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
The coupon I quoted was to the effect that 80 per cent. of the receipts had been paid out.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
According to the official representatives of the accountants' profession there is not sufficient information available to the accountant giving the certificate to make the certificate worth while. The hon. Member put the case very clearly and eloquently for the Football Pool Promoters' Association.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I really must challenge that remark. It is a. very grave charge to make. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
There is one thing on which this House quite legitimately prides itself, and that is that it does not interrupt an hon. Member who has been personally attacked and wishes to reply.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I put the case as I believed it to be on behalf of the average, intelligent, law-abiding citizen. I have no connection with the Football Pool Promoters' Association, and no interest in it. Personally I am entirely in an arbitral position between the investor and that Association.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I gladly gave way to the hon. Member. I had no intention of making any charge against him in what I said. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members who listened to the hon. Member that he certainly did put forward a great many facts and arguments in support of the Football Pool Promoters' Association. I see no reason why he should not do so; it is quite right that they should have their case fully and fairly and adequately stated, as it was stated by the hon. 2362 Member. I hope he will acquit me of the wish to say anything in the least degree offensive to himself. As to the Football Pool Promoters' Association, I should very much like to know how many firms they represent. According to the literature that I have received they represent only about a dozen firms, whereas, in fact, there are something like 150 firms altogether engaged in the business. If everything that has been said about the firms in that association is correct, and they run their business straightforwardly and scrupulously, that is all the more reason for control in order to bring the other firms up to the standard.
There is only one point in their propaganda to which I would take any exception. That is when they state that it is a very healthy occupation. That certainly is a most remarkable term to use because, whatever may be the rights or wrongs of filling in football coupons, how it can be described as a healthy occupation is really past my comprehension. They also represent that it is a very skilful occupation. As a matter of fact, when one goes into the question of what the chances are, which may in 20 matches run into one in millions, it is quite beside the point to say that any question of skill is involved in football pool betting, which is entirely a gamble and which only differs in its nature from the Irish Sweep because it is larger and in this country it is still legal. I make a very strong appeal to the Government for some form of control. I ask them to consider for a moment the political pressure and influence that can be exercised by an interest which is handling sums amounting to £30,000,000 in the course of a year. A very triflng deduction of one-eighth per cent. on that amount would give the football pool interest an enormous lever with which to exercise political pressure. Even in 1934, when the Clause was withdrawn, the Home Secretary admitted the great uneasiness that was felt in every quarter of the House on the subject and he admitted that the door had been left open to undesirable practices and said the majority of the House would wish for some form of control. I claim that some form of inspection and control of the betting interest, running to £30,000,000 a year, is essential in order to prevent football pool promoting degenerating into a racket.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not taking the slightest notice of my ruling. He is now obviously getting on to advocating something or other which has nothing whatever to do with the Bill.
§ 2.30 p.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I desire to state our point of view towards the Bill. I believe we are the only party in the House who are all agreed. We are 100 per cent. going into the Division Lobby against this proposal. Speaking as a Socialist, there can be no doubt as to our attitude to things in general. We believe in a different system of society, but that is not accepted by the public in general, and therefore, as realists, we try to accept the ordinary conditions and to advocate some form of regulation and modification of that which is in operation to-day. Therefore, in relation to this Measure we say, as representatives of working class divisions and, as we believe, of Socialist opinion, that workers drawing either wages, salaries or allowances are entitled to decide how they shall spend their money in their own way. We are against any form of exploitation of the people and, if the pool promoters are unnecessarily harsh in their extraction of vast profits from money contributed by the public, the obvious thing is that some form of control ought to take place in the interests of the whole of the people of the country.
The Mover of the Bill said it does not give him and his supporters all that they desire, but it would go a certain way. I think that he and those who have inundated us with appeals to support the Measure are rather of the kill-joy type who would prevent the worker from engaging in any form of recreational flutter that he desires. I resent the idea that people who desire to put a shilling on football pools, on horses, or on dogs are necessarily vicious. I resent that insinuation by a large number of the Church organisations of the country. I do not say this to the hon. Member for Coat-bridge (Mr. Barr), because I know he has taken up a very strong, independent and broad attitude to things in general, but I say to outside bodies that attempt to coerce us into the Lobby in favour of the Bill that, if the churches would learn to understand the workers and not be continually condemning them for these little 2364 recreations, the churches might be more full than they are, and they would not talk to empty pews. I have heard certain Labour Members condemn the pools, but it is narrowed down in every speech to a condemnation of the large amount of profit taken by the pool promoters. I think we should all agree with that point of view. I have no associations with the pools. I have never met or talked to a pool promoter. I hare never put a shilling on any kind of pool.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I notice that not many months ago, when our independent Labour party ran a little pool promotion, my hon. Friend drew a prize of £6, and I did not ever, share in it. I have seen members of my party periodically at the week-end with their coupons spread on the table, and my son, daughter and wife have had little flutters. I thought on one occasion they were not making a very good job of it and I took a hand. When the results came out, my wife said, "If you are not my better at politics than at pool promotions, God help the nation," and I am inclined to agree. I have heard it said time and again that gambling is a vice and is undermining the moral of the nation. There may be something vicious in my make-up, but if I am asked to engage in a game of cards and there is no stake, I have no interest, in the game at all. Those who engage in this game are engaging in a game of chance. I heard it said that there was nothing of a skilful nature in this sort of thing. When it is pointed out that there is skill in sport, it is forgotten that most of the large football clubs to-day are run as business concerns just as much as are the pools. I disagree when it is said that because they are run as a business concern it is not sport. Some men keep white rabbits, others keep mice, some keep pigeons, some men have a "bob" on a horse, others like a prize draw or engaged in games of whist. It all depends upon the point of view and the desire to engage in son e form of recreation. Although I am a non-smoker and a teetotaler, I do not want to ram my point of view down the throats of other people. If they want their recreational glass of beer, or cigarette, or cigar it is their affair, just as my cup of tea or glass of lemonade is my affair.
2365 The churches are not immune themselves. I know a church in the Division which I represent which engaged in a prize draw and raised £105. They promised £15 worth of prizes, but they even cadged the prizes from the local shopkeepers, with the result that they put nothing into the pool and took £105 out of it. They engage in a little flutter in many of the churches in the country by inviting women to come and read the tea cups, and by inviting palmists to foretell the future and so forth, not with very great results, I admit. The church engages in all forms of petty gambling, and we find out that that which is condemned by them is also operating. I say frankly that the labour and trade union movement, the body which we represent, engages in the promotion of prize draws and raffles and all sorts of things, in order to raise money for our candidature and for propaganda purposes. It would be a, had day if you were to seek to stamp out the complete freedom of individuals to engage in some form of sport like that.
This question narrows itself down to one of whether pools should be unrestricted or whether legislation should be introduced at a future date in order to regulate the profits of the pool promoters. That seems to be logical and reasonable, and I would not attempt to offer opposition to it. Let me say to Members of the Labour party that I was for a period in Queensland in Australia, where the Labour party used to run a monthly "golden casket" of a kind of pool character in favour of institutions and hospitals in the country. The tickets were sold at 5s. 9d., and vast sums of money were raised. I had a sister who won £100, £50 and £25. The whole of the nation engaged in the venture, and the nation was no worse for it. If people obtain money, how can you say how they shall spend it? The idea that youth must be guarded by policemen and warders when they leave school right to the age when they are able to advise the electors to send them into this House is all wrong. It is wrong to assume that the worker is incapable of deciding what to do with his own money. It has not been mentioned to-day, but most of the troubles which I see in the Press at the present moment are that men get into them as a result of come kind of influence of woman, and 2366 no one has suggested the abolition of women because they get men into trouble. There might be a case for regulation and control, but certainly no case for abolition.
As far as our party are concerned, we are in favour of extending the greatest measure of freedom to the individuals in the country, and do not assume that we are capable of telling them what they ought to do. I heard the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) say in effect, during the last debate in this House in connection with sweepstakes, "purchase tickets in the Irish Sweep, but I am going to oppose them in the Division Lobby ". To-day he condemns the Bill. I have no objection to the parts of his speech where he quoted profits. After all, the whole system is one of profit. The system of pools means the making of very large profits. I admit all that, but we have not got the nation to the point of accepting our point of view, and we have to realise that if an hon. Gentleman purchases tickets in the Irish Sweep, he has no right to come down to the House and say that the people who are engaging in a little shilling flutter have no right to do it. I have my faults. I do not come here as an angel with wings spreading out from my shoulders. Every member of the British public may have his faults, but let us all have a broad-minded toleration and understanding of one another's point of view, and do not let us seek to divert that simple, energetic recreational pursuit of the British public into a very vicious avenue, but give them an opportunity of deciding their own destiny in their own way.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Mr. A. A. SOMERVILLE
My contribution to this discussion will be brief. Confession is good for the soul, so I suppose I should feel some consolation in rising to confess that a certain lack of careful consideration has allowed my name to appear on the back of the Bill. When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell) asked me to support the Bill, through lack of that consideration, I thought that it was one for the regulation of the pools. On further examination, I found that it was for the abolition of pools. I am not for the abolition of pools, but I am for regulation. There is no doubt that, rightly 2367 or wrongly, this Bill has caused a very widespread feeling of injustice among the working classes. As we found in 1934, there is the difficulty of legislating against the widespread feeling that the proposed legislation is unjust, although I am at once with the hon. Member for Eddisbury in thinking that there is a wide, open door for abuses in connection with the pools, and, in particular, that the system now prevailing is likely to produce the gambling spirit in the young. Although that is true, still I feel that you cannot prohibit the pools while the door is left open to betting of other kinds. The question involves such large interests that it is inevitable that the Government, sooner or later, whatever Government may be in power, will have to take the matter in hand and introduce proper regulations.
§ 2.44 p.m.
§ Mr. FLEMING
I do not think that I have ever listened with greater pleasure to the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) than I have done today. Practically every word that he said seemed to be my own. I agree entirely with him, that, in things such as betting, it is a personal question. In regard to any question of personal option, whenever we attack it by legislation which tends to suppress it entirely, that legislation has an opposite effect from that which the promoters hope to bring about. The only way of tackling this question of betting is by education. When I approach the Bill I do so not as one who indulges in betting. I have never taken any interest in pools. Like the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) and his Clydeside friends, I do not know any pool promoters. I do not mean to suggest that I do not want to know them, but I have no interest whatever in pools as such. When my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell) brought his Bill forward I took the trouble to make inquiries among my own friends who are interested either pro or con in the question of pools betting. I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams)—he is now talking to one of my constituents, the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) who is opposed to me on this subject and on almost every other subject—who gave me the impression that 2368 on this matter he does not consider the views of his constituents as expressed to him in correspondence.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I think it is fair to assume that I am probably the only Member of this House who went to his Divisional party meeting, where all parts of the Division were represented, and after a two hours debate the decision was reached which I have expressed here today. Has the hon. end learned Member done that?
§ Mr. FLEMING
I had no need to do such a thing as that, because the great volume of opinion in my Division, which is the biggest in the North, is opposed to this Bill, with the exception of the hon. Member for Westhoughton.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I happen to be a constituent of the hon. and learned Member. Will he tell the House when he tested the opinion of his Division on this subject?
§ Mr. FLEMING
As I have already said, the hon. Member for Westhoughton does not agree with my views on this or on any subject. He represents a small opposition to me, as was shown at the last Election. If we take his supporters in my Division to be all in favour of his views on this Bill, they would roughly represent something like one-fifth of the electorate, or less. I have put it as high as possible on his behalf. The other four-fifths during the Election knew my views extremely well on this betting question, because in the last Parliament I took a prominent part in opposing the Betting Bill. I expressed the same view then that I express now, that it is purely a personal matter. When the question of pools betting was raised by the hon. Member for the Don Valley and others, I said that the only way to deal with this betting evil was by education and not legislation. By legislation I mean legislation of the type before us to-day, which seeks to prohibit pools betting entirely.
I agree with those hon. Members who have expressed the wish that pools betting should be regulated, but I am afraid that some of those hon. Members are rather obsessed with the idea of the rake-off by the promoters. Such a question as rake-off should not be dealt with by hearsay evidence. I have listened very carefully throughout the Debrte—I left the House for only two minutes—and I heard no 2369 evidence that would be considered before a judicial authority on the question of rake-off in pools betting. It was all, as the hon. Member for the Don Valley said, "I estimate;" "I understand."
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
No. I told the House that the facts I gave were produced in Edinburgh police court.
§ Mr. FLEMING
You cannot judge such a question as pools betting by two cases in the police courts. That would never do. When you are attacking such a system as pools betting you must get evidence from the whole of the country and not from two cases in the police courts. I listened to the lengthy speech of the hon. Member for Eddisbury and looked for some evidence on that point, but not one tittle of evidence did he produce, except two quotations from the "Times", one to the effect that in this country £500,000,000 annually is spent on betting generally, and that £20,000,000 is spent annually on pools betting. If those figures are approximately correct they entirely destroy the attitude of the promoters of this Bill, because they show conclusively that pools betting is by no means the rich man's enjoyment. Later on the hon. Member gave us the numbers who take up pool bonds, and when a calculation is made the amount placed each week by each competitor must be very small. It must be somewhere about one shilling per head. The hon. Member for Eddisbury is tackling the wrong end of the betting problem. He is starting at a very small end. If he is sincere in his attack on gambling in general he does not need to look very far to find the correct end at which to start.
I am not taking sides one way or the other. I am not attacking the question of pools betting from the industrial or any other point of view. The hon. Member for the Don Valley said that it is the mugs who keep these competitions going. The words he used were that something like 1,000,000 mugs paid out. I do not use that word in reference to the people who take part in this form of betting. If that is the view of the hon. Member, instead of trying to prohibit these people from enjoying themselves 2370 let him start to educate these mugs, and let him start in his own Division, and see what will happen at the next election.
§ Mr. FLEMING
I admire the hon. Member for his lack of alarm. He said that he was going against the wishes of a great many of his constituents. I admire him for his pluck. I do not think that I was sent here to dictate to my constituents, and I have no wish to dictate. In a matter of this kind, on which I have a perfectly open mind and in which I am not personally interested, I think that I should take notice of the wishes of my constituents. I have had fewer than 12 letters from my constituents expressing themselves in favour of the Bill, but I have had nearly a thousand opposing the Bill. I would remind the hon. Member for the Don Valley that the post cards and letters which I have received are not couched in identical terms. They are expressions of opinion of men who take part in these competitions. Some of them know me personally, and a great many of them are ex-service men and members of my own comrades' club, who write to me in their own language. They want no interference with their football pools. I agree with them, and as far as my vote can help there will be no interference with their ideas on pool betting.
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
What I say this afternoon on this Measure will be my own personal opinions. Like every other party in this House we are also hopelessly divided whenever an issue like this comes before Parliament. I have taken part in discussions on similar Bills before. I took some part in the discussions on the Betting Bill of 1934, now an Act of Parliament; and if anything, I feel stronger to-day than ever I did about the evils of gambling and betting. I have good reason to feel strongly against the collection of sixpences and shillings from working class homes in order that small groups of people may live in luxury. I am satisfied that a great deal of these sixpences and shillings come from our social services, unemployment benefit, workmen's compensation and widows pensions, which some of us have been fighting for years to establish. The one thing which offends me about this matter is that while mem- 2371 bers of all parties have been working for years to establish these social services which now cover £300,000,000 per annum there should be a group of people combining together to collect part of this money in order that they might live in affluence. I agree with the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) that law will never make people live a good life or prevent the community gambling, but a law ought to be passed to prevent groups of persons exploiting the gambling instincts of the people for their own personal gain. I do not approach this question entirely from the ethical point of view. I repeat that I object to any man or a group of men combining together for their own personal and private gain to exploit the known weaknesses of the community.
§ Mr. DAVIES
On the appropriate occasion I will deal with that question, but the hon. Member knows that this is not the appropriate occasion. Let me deal with my own Member of Parliament.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Before the hon. Member does that may I put this to him. He began his speech by pointing out that the party behind him was hopelessly divided on the question. Does he imagine that the party behind him was hopelessly divided on the issue of the exploitation of the workers?
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am glad to have the support of one of my hon. Friends on this issue. Let me now say a word about the hon. and learned Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming).
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am not going to answer questions but to deliver my speech, and I hope that I shall be allowed to do so. The hon. and learned Member for Withington was anxious that we should suppress nothing; that to suppress these pools would be wrong in principle. I do not know whether he was in the House when we suppressed the sale of Irish sweepstake tickets. That was suppression with a vengeance, and there was no pri- 2372 vate gain behind the Irish sweepstake. The argument about the liberty of the working classes does not appeal to me either. The Tory party has suppressed the political activities of trade unions in the Civil Service. Where were the rights of the working classes then? They have suppressed almost everything they could in the trade union and labour movements; and if they could they would have suppressed this Labour party too.
The House ought to distinguish between two things. This Bill does not deal with gambling as a whole but with a specific problem, the organisation of football pools. I am a little amazed at the flippant way in which Parliament regards the circular from the Football Association. I should have thought that the sporting instinct; of hon. Members would have been touched by what is said in that circular. The association says in effect that the game of football in this country is already in jeopardy because of these football pods. That is a very serious statement.
We are told that hon. Members would be willing to support the suppression of gambling and betting as a whole, but they ask why pick. out this particular issue? Does that mean that a town council, say, should never clear away a slummy street until it is prepared to build the whole city anew? Is that the argument of hon. Members? I venture to say that if the hon Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell) or any other hon. Member brought in a Bill next week to abolish gambling and betting as a whole, we should then have the same opposition from the very same hon. Members, and the argument then would be, "Why do you want to build the whole city at once; why not take one street at a time." Some of us have been here long enough to understand that argument, and it has no avail with us.
I hope the University of Oxford will feel proud of its representative in this House. As a very uneducated man, having only been through an elementary school, I always respect the cities of Oxford and Cambridge; but if I thought the hon. Member represented the culture of these two great universities in this Home, I should think very much less of them in future. Let me try to put my thoughts into words. Hon. Members in all parties have been 2373 trying to spread education and to lift the people to an appreciation of learning, music and the arts, and what do we find? Continued education in some parts of the country to-day is becoming almost impossible because a sufficient number of students is not forthcoming to attend the classes. I am proud of the country in which I live. I have seen several other countries, but I have not yet seen any better than our own. I have been in countries where betting and gambling is advocated and organised by the State, and I have seen those countries degrading their people so that they cannot appreciate the best in life or aspire to anything higher than gambling. The spirit of "something for nothing" is the worst basis of all on which to build up a nation.
Some hon. Members have spoken of the employment given by these pools, and we have been told by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Withington that we must be careful of the liberties of the subject. What about the drug traffic with which we have had to deal in this House on more than one occasion I would not speak as strongly as I do were it not for the fact that I have seen what happens to some young people in this connection. If the House will permit me to say so, I know innocent boys in offices employing hundreds of people sent out each week to buy 100 or 200 postal orders for these purposes. There are many offices and factories in this country which have been exploited by the pool promoters. The astonishing thing is that this money is not collected from people who can afford to spend it, but in a great measure from people who ought to spend it on food and clothing for their children. That is my main objection to this infernal thing called the pool. We are always told about the liberty of the working classes, but when the working classes want economic liberty, the people who want liberty for pool purposes are not with us then in our arguments. The pool promoters do not want liberty for the workmen; what they desire is liberty to exploit the working classes for their private gain.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Mr. ALAN HERBERT
I presume the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys 2374 Davies) will vote for the Amendment we are now discussing, for he appears to agree with me that betting cannot be stopped in this or, indeed, in very few other countries. Moreover, he agrees with me, and with the other hon. Members who put down the Amendment, that there may be a case for regulation and for discouraging exploitation, and that is precisely the gist of the Amendment before the House. I shall watch with interest which Lobby the hon. Gentleman approaches. As for Oxford University, I take leave to tell the hon. Gentleman, with reference to his somewhat offensive and entirely irrelevant remarks, that the only contribution I have made to this Debate so far is a perfectly straight, proper and, as I thought, sound observation on a point of Order. On account of that, I strongly resent his remarks. Let me tell him that I will give account to my own constituents, and when I want advice from him I will come to him. In my election address I did what hon. Members of the party opposite never do upon these subjects—I said exactly what I am saying in this House. In that address to the assembled parsons, schoolmasters and respectable people of Oxford University, I put exactly what is in my Amendment upon the Paper and I was elected.
I defy even an anti-gambler to find any comfort in this Bill. One would suppose from the remarks of the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. R. J. Russell)—whom I congratulate on his sincerity and also on his brief and pithy expression of his views to-day—and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that, by this Bill, what they call one specific problem is going to be solved. This is a very important point which has not, I think, been mentioned yet—that, in fact, by passing this Bill you are not going to keep football clean. You are not going to remove betting from the sacred temple of professional football, a temple which exists on the bartering of half-backs and centre-forwards as if they were cattle on the hoof. You are not going to remove betting from that institution because you are not dealing here, even with one form of betting. You are only dealing here with one form of football betting. You propose to abolish pool or pari-mutuel operations but you leave as legal as it was before, football betting at fixed odds.
2375 Does the hon. Gentleman suppose that those powerful, resourceful, ingenious, and wealthy organisations about which he complains are going to sit back when this Bill has been passed into law and say "Thank you. Now we retire to Bournemouth or to some such place"? It will be a simple matter for them to change over to betting upon fixed odds; and if there are opportunities for fraud in the operation of that system, those opportunities will still remain. Therefore I condemn this Bill and I should still condemn it, even if I objected to betting as much as the Bishops or as much as the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Davies). To my mind it is a rotten Bill, a Bill which will not reduce the total volume of betting, which will not stop fraud, which will not even stop all pari-mutuel or pool betting because in Subsection (2) of Clause 1, it provides for pari-mutuel or pool betting, conducted elsewhere than on a track with a view to the bets being made by means of a totalisator on an approved horse-racecourse. If there are opportunities for fraud in this kind of betting, you will still have such opportunities.
As an hon. Member opposite has already said so well the Bill merely fixes upon one particular part of betting, and it does not even deal with that part. We have to face the fact, even the hon. Member for Westhoughton will have to face the fact, that you will never stop betting in this country. It will go on and if you knock it down in one place it will rise up. again in another. The only statesmanlike and sensible way of dealing with it is to face that fact by licensing it and controlling it and regulating it and making the law in regard to it equal as between rich and poor. I do not know whether the hon. Member is right in saying that a sum of £500,000,000 a year is involved. I think that figure is fantastic. The Royal Commission only estimated the total at £230,000,000 but whatever the figure may be there is an area of expenditure from which no taxation is coming into the revenue while at the same time we put a tax of 20 per cent. upon music and the drama. I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite whether having expressed the views which we have heard from him he 2376 proposes to go into the Lobby against the Amendment.
It is necessary in discussing a Measure of this kind to push aside for the moment the practical details and arguments and to look behind the Measure at the philosophy of life which is contemplated in it. In spite of all the talk about exploitation, it is very clear to me what is the philosophy of life behind this Bill. It is the philosophy that the hon. Gentleman opposite put so clearly, the philosophy of cotton wool, the doctrine or idea that this Parliament can and should wrap all the citizens of this country moral cotton wool and put them all in moral glass cases, where temptation would never touch them. That is a doctrine to which I, at least, will never subscribe. I will thank no man for keeping me away from temptation. I like to meet temptation, to face it and to thrust it away, and say perhaps, "What a good boy am I." If you abolish all temptation, what happens? What is the meaning of the word "temptation"? It means testing, the trial of character, and I believe that temptation s are the things which are sent into this life in order to test and to strengthen our character. If you remove all temptation, you will have very little character left. You will have a wispy, namby-pamby, and anaemic race like those horrible young men and women in the foolish Utopia of Mr. H. G. Wells, sitting about in art-and-crafty underclothes discussing science and aircraft. If a man steals, if a man bribes footballers, if a man gets drunk, punish him, by all means, but do not let us say we are going to wipe out all the virile pleasures of the human race because a few people here and there cannot control themselves.
Apart from the charges of exploitation and corruption, which we on this side of the House are ready to correct, what is the real accusation against the practice of betting upon football matches in this way? It is, after all, no more than a charge of folly. Well, for God's sake let us leave a little folly in this world. Every man's pleasures and hobbies are ridiculous to others. A good many things could be said about some of our pleasures and enjoyments. Some of us breed foxes and pursue them and then say that we do it for the satisfaction of the poor farmer. Some of us breed race-horses, which do not always win. The working man, the 2377 man you are attacking in this Bill, has a very good right to say, "Is this the best way in which you can spend your time and money?" Who are we, after all, to say how the poor man shall spend his money? Are we gods? Are we supermen? Are we dictators? We have no more right to point the finger of scorn at his occupations than he has at ours. He minds his own business, and I ask hon. Members to mind theirs.
There are innumerable reasons why we should reject this Bill, the most piecemeal Measure that has ever been sent into this House on a Friday afternoon. It is a mean and pettyfogging Measure, restrictive without being constructive. It will not reduce the total volume of betting or produce equality among the classes. It will not prevent fraud, and it will not bring in any revenue to the country. In fact, it will not offer the smallest solution to any of the many aspects of this very great problem. I hope there will be no talk of talking out this Bill. Let us drive out this Bill. Let us throw it out with such force and. contempt that no man will ever dare to bring such a mean and pettifogging Measure into this Parliament again.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
I think I shall carry the House with me in one preliminary observation when I say that to-day, at any rate, there is not likely to be a Government defeat. If an enterprising promoter decided to institute a system of pool or pari-mutuel betting on the results of divisions in this House, he would, after considering what has happened in the last few days and considering the chances, come to the conclusion that it was very unlikely there would be a Government defeat to-day. There is, however, one overriding consideration which prevents it, and that is that there is no Government proposal before the House, for the Government, of course, have no responsibility for the proposals in this Bill, which is a Private Member's Bill. I would like to make some observations about one or two of the speeches that have been made to-day. I should like first to congratulate the hon. Member for Stalybridge (Mr. P. Dunne) on his maiden speech, in which he expressed definite views with efficiency and charm. 2378 With reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), I cannot agree with everything that he said, but there was one point in which I agreed with him very much. That was when he took the point of view that, although Members very often have to consider the views of their constituencies, there sometimes come occasions when a Member has to take a stand on a point of principle, and, whatever the circumstances, vote in accordance with it in this House. He made a very human point when he said that all hon. Members like to meet the views of their constituents whenever possible, but that there were occasions when we must remember the words of Edmund Burke, that great Member of Parliament, that we are not merely Members for our constituencies, but Members of Parliament. The fact that that occurs in this House when the occasion demands it is one of the great distinctions between this House and some of the Continental Parliaments that exist no more to-day.
I think that the hon. Member will agree that there is room on this occasion for legitimate disagreement; indeed, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) took a different point of view altogether from that of the other hon. Gentleman. Unfortunately, I missed the hon. Gentlman's speech, but I am told that he made a very effective one. In the course of it he quoted his wife as having said, "If you are as bad at politics as you are at the pools, God help the country." I am not, of course, in any way wishing to associate myself with that point of view, or seeking to discredit the hon. Member's efficiency as a politician. He did, however, stress the masculine point of view, such as was contained in a letter from an old farm labourer to one of my colleagues on this bench, as follows:I have no truck with betting. I never bet, but please oppose the Bill. The pool coupon keeps the old woman quiet for at least two hours a week.I mention these two instances for the purpose of letting the British public realise that this House does not merely decide these questions on some dry-as-dust principles, but that it is a very human assembly which is well fitted to take into consideration the human points that arise on matters of this kind.
2379 The House might find it convenient if I gave a short account of the existing law as we understand it at the Home Office. It is a very complicated subject, and, as the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert) pointed out, few people understand it. Only the courts are competent to interpret the law, but the House might like to know the position at the present time. The general effect of the existing law relating to pool or pari-mutuel betting is, in our view, as follows: In regard to on-the-course betting, betting on the pool principle is lawful on a track only if it is conducted either (1) on an approved racecourse with or by the authority of the Racecourse Betting Control Board set up by the Act of 1928 or, (2) on a licensed track of a dog racecourse in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 1934. Off-the-course betting, on the other hand, on this pool principle appears not to be unlawful provided that there is first no resorting to premises for the purpose of effecting pari-mutuel or pool betting transactions, and, secondly, that the betting is conducted on a credit and not on a cash basis. The proposals of this Bill are on these lines: The Bill proposes to leave alone pool betting on the course as allowed under the Acts of 1928 and 1934, hut it proposs to prohibit all kinds of off-the-course pool betting. We all know that it is the growth of football pools which is the cause of the introduction of this Bill. The Bill is not limited simply to prohibiting football pool betting, and I think the House will agree that if there were agreement on the principles that pool betting is an evil it would not be right to prohibit only one form of it in relation to one sport but that all sports should be put on the same basis. That is the effect, as we see it, of the proposals of the Bill.
I ought to say a. word about the actual terms of the Bill, because there are certain defects in it. For example, it leaves Section 3 of the Act of 1934 unrepealed and unamended, and the result is that the new Bill and Section 3 of the Act of 1934 considerably overlap each other, and if the Bill passes in its present form there will be confusion as to the provisions of the law. Secondly, the Bill lays down that the penalties for infringement of its provisions would be those under the Betting and Lotteries Act of 1934, but that Act laid down specific 2380 penalties for specific matters, and, of course, does not actually provide any penalty for a failure to conform to the provisions of the Bill now before us. Therefore, the provisions as to penalties are meaningless and would have no effect. A third point of some importance is that as drafted the Bill applies to Northern Ireland, but betting and gambling is a subject which is within the competence of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and it would be quite contrary to constitutional practice for this Parliament, except by agreement, to legislate in regard to a subject within the competence of Northern Ireland; aid I think we should all agree that cur fellow British subjects in Northern Ireland are inclined to hold strong views on most subjects and that on a subject connected with sport their views are likely to be unusually strong.
We have heard a number of arguments on both sides, many of which depend for their force on what are the actual facts as to the scale of this pool betting. A number of estimates have been given, some, I think, too modest and others exaggerated, and I feel the House will agree that it would be a great convenience if it were possible to establish on a reasonably sound foundation an estimate of what is the extent of this pool betting at the present time. I am in a position to give the results of a special investigation made by the Post Office into this matter. It was made up to December last and has been supplemented by further information. The general result of that investigation will be given to the House as objectively as I can. First of all the season lasts, we understand, for about 35 weeks. Business was growing throughout the season. The number of individual participants or syndicates each week throughout the season, averaged about 3,800,000.
The number of postal orders bought weekly by participants, and presumably reaching the promoters, was about 3,000,000, and the average value of those postal orders was abort 2s. 6d. Those of 1s., 1s. 6d. and 2s. were the most common, covering about 58 per cent. of the total. The postal orders of from 2s. 6d. to 5s. were also a fairly substantial proportion. The number of postal orders bought by the promoters and presumably remitted to winners came to about 2381 165,000, and the average value 12s. 6d. No doubt larger winnings were remitted by means of cheques and no doubt other remittances sent by participants were in stamps, bank notes and so forth.
On the basis of the figures that I have given to the House, the sums remitted to the promoters during the present season will be in the neighbourhood of £13,000,000 or £14,000,000. If you take into account in making an estimate the amount that might be remitted in other forms other than postal orders, the total may come to as much as £20,000,000 a year, and it is growing. I will put to the House that there are two main points that stand out. The first is that there is an aggregate total sum involved which is very considerable, and, secondly, that a large proportion of the individual bets are for relatively small sums. To the best of our knowledge those are the central facts of the situation.
Let me turn for a moment from facts to principles. I think the House has to decide to-day first of all whether this pool betting is an evil, and secondly, whether it is an evil of so formidable a nature as to justify and require intervention by Parliament. The House will probably agree that that is the sort of principle which should govern all social legislation in this country. Perhaps I might say a few words about the general attitude of the Government to these problems. Even the strongest supporters of the Bill would no doubt agree that it would be better not to deal separately with only one aspect of off-the-course betting. They would no doubt be ready to withdraw the Bill if any promise could be given that the Government would introduce comprehensive legislation to deal with off-the-course betting, including the question of street betting, which dominates the position.
The Government are not, however, in a position to give any such undertaking. A comprehensive Bill would necessarily be very controversial, and would be a first class Measure. It would take up a very considerable amount of Parliamentary time, and it is too soon, in our view, after the Act of 1934, for the Government to consider introducing fresh legislation to deal with betting when there are other problems of urgent importance to engage the time of Parliament. Even if time were available, the 2382 Government would hesitate to embark on legislation on such a controversial subject as betting unless it were clear that it embodied principles which were likely to command overwhelming support, both in Parliament and the country.
A comprehensive Bill being out of the question in present circumstances, the question arises, what should Parliament do in respect of the limited Bill which is now before it? I think I should be interpreting the sense of the House in saying that we have to decide to-day whether football pool betting is a practice of such a nature, or is conducted in such a manner, as to necessitate interference by Parliament. We have heard views fully expressed on all sides to-day, and the Government have put forward all the information we have on the subject. In our view it is pre-eminently a subject which is fitted for the decision of the House of its own volition. We are all completely free to take any view that we like, and I may say that that freedom extends even to Under-Secretaries; even they and I are I are in the position to-day to do as we may wish. It may not interest the House to know how I intend to vote to-day, but in case it does interest hon. Members I would say that at the present time, and in the present circumstances, I propose to vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. MABANE
Do I understand, from the estimates that the hon. Gentleman gave us, that, on those figures, £600,000 a week, approximately, goes to the promoters, and £100,000 comes back?
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not desire to stop anyone else who wishes to speak, or to prevent the House from coming to a decision fairly quickly, but I have risen because I am going to vote for this Bill, and, as that is a very unpopular thing to do in the House to-day, I should not like to give a silent vote. When I first saw the Bill, I thought I should vote against it because of its imperfections, which have been pointed out by the Under-Secretary and by other Members, but I am going to vote for it because I consider that pool betting is spreading the evil of gambling very considerably, and that, as I think most people who are associated with masses of the people will agree, betting and gambling generally do lead to great degradation of character and conduct.
2383 It is all very well for people who have no sort of temptation from the point of view of money and the desire to enjoy things to think that what is called an innocent flutter just remains innocent. People start by putting on a shilling or joining in a pool, and very soon a fair proportion of them think that that is an easy way of being able to add to their income, and they resort to all kinds of methods for that purpose. From my experience, the spread of this system to football is very likely to extend to cricket and even to the Boat Race. We have always thought that the Boat Race was a fair race, and one of the best sporting events in the country, but it would be possible in this way to bring it down to the same kind of level to which football has been brought, that is to say, to the buying and selling of players.
My main reason, however, for voting for the Bill is to express my own very strong conviction that this form of betting is leading to a terrific increase among young people of the idea that it is better to get the means of living or the means of enjoying life in this way than by working in the ordinary way for their daily bread. I should have liked to be in the majority to-clay in defence of individual liberty and freedom, lout I would point out to the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. A. Herbert) that he, too, was slightly inconsistent to-day. At the end of his speech he declared far free and full liberty, as a good, true anarchist should, but in the middle of his speech he was pleading for regulation. He cannot have it both ways. He will learn, as I have had to learn, and as all of us learn here, that consistency is something which is absolutely impossible in life. I have said many times that we shall be consistent when we are dead, but not till then. Life is so varied and conditions so various that we need not waste our time wondering whether we are consistent or not.
§ Mr. ALAN HERBERT
There is no inconsistency between what I said in the earlier part of my speech and my advocacy of regulations.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If the hon. Gentleman will read his speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will find that at the end of his speech he completely contradicted what he had said earlier. He wanted freedom for people to fight temptation in their own way and to develop in that fashion. Life is not carried on like that now. There are a thousand-and-one laws and regulations which no one would ever dream of upsetting or would think are all right and proper. I do not like to go into the Lobby with a small minority without having said my say to the majority. I believe that gambling and all that gambling means are being extended in a very insidious way by this form of betting.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I would not have spoken had not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) spoken, but in view of the fact that he has taken upon himself to give to the House the reason why he is going to support this Bill, I want in about two sentences to show why I am going to oppose the Bill. I resent the attitude that the right. hon. Gentleman took up. He denounced this pool betting as an evil. I suggest that he should allow the people who are taking part in pool betting to decide whether it is an evil or not. In this House there is too much of a habit of people getting up and assuming a superior morality, assuming that they know a great deal better than the working people themselves what is good for them. I am not going to assume any such superiority. I have received a very considerable number of letters from my constituents telling me that they want this thing to go on. I have received other expressions of opinion from them, and in view of the fact that it is a matter which concerns them entirely I am going to oppose the Bill.
Question put, "That the words pro posed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 24; Noes, 287.2385
|Division No. 141.]||AYES.||[3.45 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. I. (Armagh)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Grenfell, D. H.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Gardner, B. W.||Holland, A.|
|Birchall. Sir J. D.||Garro-Jones, G. M.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Preston, Sir W. R.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Scott, Lord William||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Thorne, W.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Watson, W. McL.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)||Mr. R. J. Russell and Mr. Barr.|
|Acland-Troyte. Lt.-Col. G. J.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Kirby, B. W.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Davison, Sir W. H.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Adamson, W. M.||De la Bère, R,||Latham, Sir P.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Denville, Alfred||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Albery, I. J.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Leach, W.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Dobbie, W.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Donner, P. W.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Levy, T.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Duggan, H. J.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Assheton, R.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Dung lass, Lord||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Dunne, P. R. R.||Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Eastwood, J, F.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Eckersley, P. T.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Batey, J.||Ede, J. C.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Lyons, A. M.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Bellenger, F.||Ellis, Sir G.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||McEwen. Capt. H. J. f.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McGovern, J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Entwistle, C. F.||McKle, J. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Errington, E.||MacNeill, Weir, L.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Everard, W. L.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Findlay, Sir E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon H. D. R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Fleming, E. L.||Markham, S. F.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Bracken, B.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Mathers, G.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Frankel, D.||Maxton, J.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Maxwell, S. A.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Bromfield, W||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Brooke, W.||Glbbins, J.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Gledhill, G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Goldie, N. B.||Montague, F.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Morrison, W. S. (Clrencester)|
|Butler, R. A.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Muff, G.|
|Butt, Sir A.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Munro, P. M.|
|Calne, G. R. Hall-||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Nail, Sir J.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cape, T.||Grimston, R. V.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Groves, T. E.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Cary, R. A.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Cassells, T.||Guest, Maj. Hon.O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Patrick, C. M.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Cautley, Sir H. S.||Guy, J. C. M.||Petherick, M.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Hanbury, Sir C.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E,|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hannah, I. C.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chlppenham)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Potts, J.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Harvey, G.||Price, M. P.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hayday, A.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Chater, D.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Qulbell, J. D.|
|Christie, J. A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ralkes, H. V. A. M.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Clarke, F. E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Co'onel A. P.||Rankln, R.|
|Clarry Sir R. G.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Reid, Captain A. Cunningham|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Holmes, J. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Robinson, J, R. (Blackpool)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Critchley, A.||Hunter, T.||Rowlands, G.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Rowson, G.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Jackson, Sir H.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Cross, R. H.||Joel, D. J. B.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Salt, E. W.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Keeling, E. H.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Daggar, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Dalton, H.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Sandys, E. D.||Stuart, Hon. I. (Moray and Nairn)||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Selley, H. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Wells, S. R.|
|Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Sutcliffe, H.||Westwood, J.|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Tate, Mavis C.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Shinwell, E.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, K. J. (Ogmore)|
|Short, A.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, s.)|
|Simpson, F. B.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Willoughby at Eresby, Lord|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Thurtle, E.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Tinker, J. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Smith, E. (Stoke)||Touche, G. C.||wise, A. R.|
|Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Tree, A. R. L. F.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.||Vlant, S. P.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Wakefield, W. W.||Young, A. S. L. (Partlck)|
|Spens, W. p.||Walker, J.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wallace, Captain Euan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stephen, C.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Mr. Lennox-Boyd and Mr. Alan|
|Storey, S.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)||Herbert.|
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there added."
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
The Bill, the Second Reading of which was proposed to-day, has met not with an untimely but with a very timely end, and will not be regretted. I should not be in order to discuss its origin now, but I should say that it was only half-bred. It was by Mugwamp out of Mrs. Grundy. It is very curious how when matters of this sort come up for discussion they engender a good deal of feeling, one way or another. We have now to consider the words to be inserted in the form of the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). The Amendment has a great deal to commend itself to the House. Those who support it are by no means indisposed to consider the advisability of regulation. The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) accused hon. Members who are opposed to the Bill as being absolutely rigid individualists. We are not so rigid as he would suggest. He said that we were the sort of people who liked to put sand in sugar, and that sort of thing. If when he is in his more valiant mood he will introduce a little more reason into his rhetoric, we should be a little happier about the remarks that he occasionally makes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."] I am speaking on the Amendment, and I propose to discuss—
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put,"
2388 Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question, "That the proposed words be there added," put accordingly, and agreed to.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved,That this House, while sympathetic towards the principle of the regulation of football pool betting in the interest of subscribers, considers the proposals of this Bill to he an unjustifiable interference with private liberty, and further is of the opinion that there is no sufficient reason for proceeding with a Bill which provides for the amendment of the laws relating to betting within the space of two years after the passing of the Betting and Lotteries Act, 1934.