§ 26. Sir Cooper Rawson
asked the Home Secretary whether any discrimination is shown in police prosecutions in respect of whist drives between those run for personal profit and the normal drives organised by various clubs and associations; and will he make some clear pronouncement on the subject to allay the existing disquiet?
§ Sir S. Hoare
There have been a number of judicial decisions to the effect that whist drives held under certain conditions are unlawful. It has, however, always been recognised that, as ordinarily conducted, whist drives are an innocent form of amusement and free from the element of mischief which accompanies gambling. Accordingly, while the Home Secretary has no authority to give instructions to the police on a matter relating to the enforcement of the law, chief 1461 constables have been advised by the Home Office to the effect that, in the view of the Secretary of State, the police should not institute proceedings except where there is reason to believe that a whist drive is a cloak for gambling or for profit-making out of gambling, that the police should limit their interference to cases where they have reason to think that actual harm is being done, and that whist drives held as a purely incidental part of their various social activities by members of bona fide clubs or institutions would not usually come within the mischiefs aimed at by the law. I have no doubt that the police generally are guided by this advice.
§ Sir C. Rawson
Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether the decision to prosecute rests entirely with him, or with the local watch committee or the police?
§ Sir C. Rawson
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that an ordinary whist drive for some club or organisation should come within the definition that he has mentioned?
§ Mr. Thorne
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that a game of draughts or chess in this House for a cigar would come within the definition of gambling?