HC Deb 14 July 1955 vol 543 cc2101-3
55. Mr. Boardman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been prosecuted in Lancashire during 1955 for playing housey-housey in social clubs.

Major Lloyd-George

I understand that proceedings have been taken during 1955 in respect of unlawful gaming at two clubs and that the number of persons involved is 115.

Mr. Boardman

Is the Home Secretary aware that the game is a traditional pastime of the British Army, that under the name of tombola it is played in certain seaside holiday camps whose brochures advertise it as one of the aura-Lions, and that under the name of either tombola or bingo it is played in the most fashionable London clubs? Why should there be discrimination against Lancashire clubs? Is it not time the law was amended to legalise this innocent pastime?

Major Lloyd-George

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman says about housey-housey. I dare say that a number of us played it in our younger days. However, those with experience of the Army know that there are different ways of playing different games. In any event, this is really a matter for the local police authorities, and in this case the chief constable took action. The number of people involved was 115. They happened to be in the clubs; they had their names taken, and I understand that they were bound over.

Mr. Burden

What is housey-housey?

Mr. Boardman

Surely the Minister will appreciate that a law operated on a geographical basis can only bring itself into contempt?

Major Lloyd-George

If the hon. Gentleman really means that, he is going to have a very busy time in this House. In Lancashire responsibility for action in respect of this law falls upon the chief constable.

Mr. M. Stewart

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there is a very reputable encyclopaedia which contains an article about the game written by the verger of a cathedral? Will he consider introducing legislation to remove this anomaly?

Major Lloyd-George

I am not quite clear about that. Does the hon. Gentleman want legislation to amend the encyclopaedia?

Mr. Stewart

No, to legalise the game.

Mr. W. R. Williams

As the game is most popular among not only young people but also very elderly people in many Lancashire towns, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman have another look at the matter? Is it not ridiculous to forbid people to play an innocuous game which gives great pleasure, particularly to old people in hundreds of clubs in Lancashire?

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman bear in mind that the full rigours of the law in this matter, as in other matters, can always be mitigated by a judicious use of the prerogative of mercy?

Mr. D. Howell

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had time to consider representations made to him by the Birmingham Watch Committee following the report of the chief constable of Birmingham that the gambling laws generally are so archaic as to need complete revision, and what action does he intend to take?

Mr. Speaker

We are now getting some way from housey-housey.