HC Deb 27 March 1947 vol 435 cc1419-22

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 13, at the beginning, insert: (1) Subject to the provisions of this section.

4.5 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I think it will be for the convenience of the House that all the Amendments made in another place shall be taken together, and I hope therefore I may be allowed to make a statement covering all of them. During the Committee stage of the Bill last Friday, two Amendments were proposed, one by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson) and the other by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam), the aim in each case being to give the Minister and those who have to administer the Measure greater elasticity in the arrangements that could be made. I was not able to accept the Amendments in the form in which they were moved, but towards the end of the proceedings the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) appealed to me to see whether I could not make the Bill more elastic and prevent the hardships which might arise if we tried to apply to the whole of the country conditions which might not be justified in every place. I undertook to consider the possibility of doing that, and in another place certain Amendments were moved by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, which have resulted in these Amendments appearing on the Paper today.

They enable the Secretary of State to have regard to needs, not merely of a licensing area but of part of a licensing area; if in respect of any such area or part of an area it would be desirable, or would not be objectionable having regard to the needs of industrial production, to allow one of these meetings to be held in the middle of the week or to allow it to start earlier than 1 p.m. on Saturday) the Secretary of State will be empowered to make an Order to enable the appropriate variation to be made. I think that explains the nature of these Amendments. I think it would have been very unwise to have got out of one strait-waistcoat merely to get into another, which might work awkwardly in certain parts of the country. I hope that with these Amendments we shall have secured the freedom of movement that will enable us to avoid any unnecessary curtailment of reasonable enjoyment.

4.8 p.m.

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

I am sure my hon. Friends on this side of the House will be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government for introducing these Amendments into the Bill. They will give him a much greater flexibility of adminstration, and he will be enabled to do whatever is necessary to relax the full stringency of the provisions of the Bill in cases where that course may become desirable. I am glad these Amendments are being introduced, and I am grateful to my hon. Friends behind roe who put forward their Amendments, although they had only 48 hours to consider the Bill, which was passed through all its stages in this House in one day.

4.9 p.m.

Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

Does this sanction supersede any authority of the appointed licensing committees, and will the Home Secretary, in taking any decisions with reference to allowing dog racing in any particular area, before doing so consult with the appointed committees who know the complete arrangements in relation to their own particular areas?

4.10 p.m.

Squadron-Leader Fleming (Manchester, Withington)

I would like to ask the Home Secretary one question with regard to the fourth Amendment, which says, "If the Secretary of State is satisfied as respects any particular licensing area…" etc. I would like him to clarify that matter in this respect: Will he consider applications from local authorities, or from, say, a greyhound race track at the seaside, in this matter of mid-week racing? It is not quite clear as to how the Home Secretary would satisfy himself. To put it the other way round, what should the people interested do in order to satisfy the Home Secretary that they do need midweek racing at, say, Blackpool during the Easter holiday?

4.11 p.m.

Mr. Ede

By leave of the House, I would like to reply to the two questions addressed to me. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock), the main effect of the whole Measure is to remove, for the duration of this Measure, the fixing of days and times from the licensing authority. Ordinarily, the only day in future is Saturday, except for the four appointed days, which are usually Bank Holidays in England and Wales. Nothing in these Amendments will restore to the licensing authorities any powers that the Bill takes away from them, but of course in arriving at a decision as to whether racing should be permitted I shall consult all the people who appear likely to be able to give me suitable information, and I imagine that that would include a body like the local licensing authority.

With regard to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Withington (Squadron-Leader Fleming), I think the persons who will apply will be the promoters of the greyhound racing tracks. I do not have to be assured that the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituents want to bet at Blackpool, I have to satisfy myself that, if I give permission for betting to take place at Blackpool or anywhere else, industrial production will not be interfered with.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that I never suggested anything about betting; I said enjoying themselves at Blackpool by going to the race track.

Mr. Ede

Unfortunately, this Bill is concerned only with betting. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman's constituents want to enjoy themselves without betting, I have no say in the matter. It is the fact that this Bill deals with betting, and I do not want to say anything that might appear offensive either to the hon. and gallant Gentleman or to his constituents, but I have to be satisfied that industrial production will not be interfered with, and it may very well be that a seaside resort may be so near a place in which industrial production is carried on that it would be wrong, on the information that may come to me in itself, to permit greyhound racing to take place.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.